On April 8, a fifteen-year-old Texas girl went to a Dallas Mavericks home game with her father. It was the kind of father-daughter night that is usually remembered fondly by both of them for many years to follow. However, on this particular occasion, the evening was a disaster for the girl's parents as well as the girl herself.
Just before halftime, the girl left her seat for a bathroom break but never returned. Although her father had declared her missing before the game finished, the family’s attorney stated that the “Dallas police never began an investigation and failed to make any efforts to locate the teenage girl.” Instead, the father was instructed, with no information about the whereabouts of his daughter available, to return home and wait until he received a response from authorities.
The family's grief and worry grew over the next few days. They phoned the Dallas Police Department before calling a non-profit organization known as the Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative and discovered that their daughter was being advertised and offered for paid sex in Oklahoma City.
Eight people have been detained to date in connection with the investigation, which includes charges ranging from human trafficking to dissemination of pornography involving a child to sexual assault. As reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, family attorney Zeke Fortenberry “sent a letter to the Dallas Police Department, the American Airlines Center, the Dallas Mavericks, and Extended Stay America saying that their actions or policies failed the victim and her family.”
Fortenberry claims that the family's allegations regarding both the Mavericks and the American Airlines Center focus on the man who left the stadium with the girl and who was in possession of a fraudulent ticket. The person who offered the ticket to the man is allegedly engaged in the sex-trafficking activities of the Mavericks and the America Airlines Center. The person who had the fraudulent ticket gained access to the restricted zone, where he was able to meet the girl. The problem regarding Extended Stay America centers on its employees in its Oklahoma City location, where police found staff lacking the necessary training to spot the sex-trafficking activity taking place.
An interesting note from the WFAA’s story about the crime indicated that Fortenberry stated that he hadn't yet received any answers from the people to whom he addressed the letter. However, he says he would like to hear from them in a month, which would ensure the matter could be resolved without the need for a lawsuit.
The story reveals a horrifying fact. Sex trafficking isn't just for young women smuggled across international borders. It's happening right here in the United States. For those involved in the incident, pray that God will be merciful to their souls, as nobody else on the planet will be so inclined. For the girl, we pray for her to find healing.