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Four in NY charged with forcing child into prostitution

By Kiran Khalid, CNN
  • Youngster raped, abused for almost a decade
  • Brooklyn Sexual Trafficking Unit believes there are many more such cases
  • Young woman confided in college professor
  • She only went to police after another family member was close to being recruited

New York (CNN) -- Four men were indicted in Brooklyn Wednesday for forcing a teenager into prostitution beginning at age 13. The Kings County District Attorney charged three of the men with raping the woman on several occasions and a fourth defendant with forcing the victim to have sex for money.

The indictment details eight years of abuse during which the woman was stabbed, beaten and repeatedly raped. On one occasion the woman was sold to a passerby for $20 according to District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.

"Despite the trauma and abuse, the victim still managed to graduate from high school and attend college," Hynes told reporters at a press conference. It was there, he says, that she finally broke her silence with one of her professors.

"There's a long way to go in this case," said Jeff Kern, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and former prosecutor in the Brooklyn DA's office. "But this is certainly a watershed moment."

Kern said the woman approached him after class one night and in a lengthy conversation described nearly a decade of beatings, rape and forced prostitution. Kern said he didn't push the victim to go to the police but subsequent threats from the defendants to recruit another female family member convinced her to do so.

According to Hynes the rampant abuse started in 2003 when she was 13 and she was allegedly raped by defendant Damien Crooks and Jamali Brockett.

"After that encounter, Crooks and Brockett are charged with forcing her to have sex for money and beating her, raping her and forcing her to perform sexually humiliating acts when she refused," Hynes said at a press conference Wednesday. Jawara Brockett and Darrell Dula have also been indicted in the case and charged with rape in the first degree.

Hynes says there's reason to believe that there are more victims in this case.

"If you or anyone you know was victimized by these four defendants, I encourage you to call the Brooklyn Sex Trafficking Unit Hotline, at 718-250-2770," Hynes said.

"If you are a victim, we will protect you. If you are a pimp, we will catch you, and when we do, we will aggressively prosecute you and seek the maximum sentences."

The case marks a milestone for the Brooklyn Sexual Trafficking Unit established by the King's County DA's Office in June 2010. The unit launched a massive public awareness campaign in New York last year including posters in different languages and radio spots voiced by actress Sarah Jessica Parker urging victims to come forward.

"I think we just scratched the surface in terms of these cases," said Lauren Hersh, chief of the Sex Trafficking Unit. Hersh added that the length and extent of abuse in this case makes it especially horrific. "It is one of the sickest cases I've ever seen."

The victim and her family are in protective custody because prosecutors have reason to believe they're still in danger.

"She's a diamond in the rough," said Jeff Kern, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "She aced my class and graduated with honors."