Since earlier this week, thousands of people have commented and shared our article about the 15-year-old girl who was Snapchatted having sex with 25 boys in Florida high school bathroom. Many people commented judgements about the young girl or blamed her parents for such behavior, ignoring the inexcusable behavior of the teen boys.
New facts have come to light that evoke feelings of sympathy for the girl, rather than criticism. The girl’s mother recently reached out to NBC-2 to help tell her story and set the record straight. She does not want to be on camera, so she asked a woman who has worked with her daughter to be the family spokesperson.
The biggest takeaway from this shocking and now heartbreaking incident is this young girl’s tragic history.
“I had heard about a lot about the incident through the news. I heard it and thought there’re some red flags,” said Megan Estrem. “What’s upsetting about this is this behavior is not uncommon for human trafficking victims.
Estrem is the founder of Be the Light, an advocacy group for victims of sex slavery. She sees cases like this all the time.
“Sex trafficking is a very traumatizing experience,” said Estrem.
The girl’s mom brought her daughter to Estrem after having saved her from a human trafficker who held her captive for two years. “She was only 13 when she was trafficked,” said Estrem. The girl was placed into multiple treatment programs, the most recent was eight months long. But because she’s a runaway, only a handful of programs would accept her. None of them addressed the devastating ramifications of sexual abuse. “She did get some help, but it wasn’t specific for what she needed,” said Estrem.
She was a student at South Fort Myers High only two weeks when the incident happened.
“She was not equipped to make a stable, rational decision in that situation,” said Estrem.
The girl’s mother said her daughter went to the boys bathroom to talk to a boy she had a crush on. She said the boy wanted sex, and her daughter complied. Then word got out.
“She did not [have sex] with 25 boys in the bathroom. There was only a handful that she did [have sex] with. In this case, it was more of a spectator sport,” said Estrem.
It lasted an hour and ended because the students involved had somewhere else to be. It’s deeply disturbing that even a single male participated in this, without consideration of her, or the effects of their actions.
“She has been in an environment where she has been told to behave a certain way, and there were severe consequences if she didn’t,” said Estrem.
“They are usually stuck in slavery until someone busts it up,” said Nicole Waid, a former chief assistant U.S. attorney based in Fort Myers.
“You’re talking these young girls having sex 30 to 40 times a day with different customers,” said Waid.
Some abduct their victims, others are lured using the internet, but what they all have in common is some vulnerability.
“Fourteen to 16, the age because they feel isolated from school, isolated from parents, that the world’s against them,” said Waid. “It’s truly one of the most horrific crimes, you are selling young girls, and young boys for sex.”
The pimps are targeting runaways, outliers and those with low self-esteem.
“They’ve done it before, they know exactly what they are saying, the words to say, they know what this kid needs to feel like, ‘Oh I’m on your side,’ and then to lure them into some situation,” said Waid.
And once in, it’s very hard to get out.
“They are highly complex rings. They are traveling and trafficking these girls from Southwest Florida to Atlanta to up to New York City to Boston and back,” said Waid. “It was such an issue that we started a human trafficking task force to educate law enforcement and the community and prosecutors.”
The biggest misconception — it’s not an illegal immigrant problem. It’s a domestic one.
“What I don’t think people really understand it happens everywhere, it could be your neighbor or a girl in your English class,” said Waid.
The girl’s mom has pulled her out of school. She is trying to protect her from the rumors, comments and video swirling around the Internet right now.
“What happens is not to go straight to shaming and sharing this, but find out there all facts, what happened, why did she do this, who else was involved and what was their role,” said Estrem.
As for the video that has been taken, a few people have posted the graphic video on social media. Comments have been made about wanting to see the video, while some are offering it to people who subscribe to their channel.
We at Fight the New Drug are heartbroken to hear these new facts concerning this story that we reported on. We felt lots of sympathy for the girl originally, but now that the story has taken an even darker and more tragic turn, we want to be sure others know the background story as well. Sex trafficking is a huge global issue, one only fueled by pornography. Unfortunately, there are many in our society that are blind to the inseparable link between porn and sex trafficking. And so many others are blind to what porn is teaching young men (and women) about sex. These boys’ willingness to take advantage of a traumatized sex trafficking victim by engaging in group sex is another sad example of today’s porn culture. How is any of this healthy or okay? While many were quick to judge the girl, we should all be just as concerned with the behavior of the boys who thought it was okay to do what they did.
The porn industry is a sketchy industry to begin with, but when it takes a really dangerous turn is when porn involving sex trafficking victims is made and distributed, much like the video of this poor teenage girl now circulating the internet. Countless girls like this Florida teen have been coerced, abused, drugged, and threatened into the sex trade. It’s not a hard stretch to make to assume that this wasn’t the first time this girl was coerced into sex and had multiple people standing around to watch and even record. By speaking out and being educated on this worldwide issue, we can hopefully prevent this from continuing to happen.
What YOU Can Do
If you shared or commented on our original post, SHARE this article to raise awareness on the bigger issue–human sex trafficking, and the porn industry’s effect on sex education.
If you are a victim of human trafficking or suspect human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-(888)-373-7888.