State Police are still looking for possible victims in an alleged sex trafficking ring with roots in Oneida County. More details about the operation were revealed today. Our Andrew Sorensen has been following the story, and has the latest.
MADISON COUNTY, N.Y. -- State police say they're looking for more victims and more people to arrest in the case of a 16-year-old girl being forced into prostitution in Utica after she ran away from home in February.
"She was picked up by a taxi cab driver in the city who befriended her, bought her some clothing, bought her some personal items," said Major Rodney Campbell, NYSP Troop D Commander.
Investigators say Jakeem Penn Sr. was that driver. He's now charged with endangering the welfare of a child. They say he introduced the girl to alleged prostitute Alexandria Davall, who took her to Lynette and Edward Tilden.
“These individuals eventually did then coerce her into engaging in prostitution under the premise that she owed them money for providing food and shelter to her,” said Major Campbell.
Davall, and the Tildens have all been charged in Oneida County's first ever case of sex trafficking. Investigators say they used Backpage.com to solicit the girl up and down the east coast, and also forced the girl to have sex with drug dealers to get cocaine and heroin.
"The drugs were then given to the 16-year-old girl prior to the dates she was set up on," said Major Campbell.
But police say others are to blame here, namely Backpage.com. Captain Mark Lincoln says attorneys general across the country are looking to put pressure on Backpage because of cases like this.