On April 8th, a Texas father experienced every parents’ worst nightmare: His daughter went missing. The pair were at a Dallas Mavericks game. The teenage girl went to the bathroom during halftime and never came back. Police found her 10 days later thousands of kilometers away in Oklahoma City. She was the victim of sex trafficking.
Teen Girl Trafficked At Dallas Mavericks Game
A teen girl and her father were enjoying a father-daughter night out at a Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball game. At halftime, the young teenager went to go to the washroom. When the whistle blew to start the second half of the game, however, she had not returned. Panicked, her father began searching the arena for her, as well as notified arena security. They did not locate his daughter. Security camera footage shows her leaving the arena with a man that the father did not know. (1)
What ensued was 10 days of hell, both for the missing teenager and for her distraught parents. A group of people took the girl to a hotel in Oklahoma City where they sold her for sex, abused her, and published nude photos of her on their online websites. On April 18, police located her at the Extended Stay America Hotel on the southwest side of OKC. (2)
They Didn’t Do Enough
Her parents are now speaking out, saying that no one involved did enough to bring their daughter home sooner. They say she suffered horrific traumas for 10 days because the Dallas Police didn’t act quick enough or appropriately. The parents also say that the Dallas Mavericks arena and the Extended Stay America Hotel are also at fault. (3)
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The Dallas Police
The first mistake was that the Dallas Police registered her as a runaway rather than a kidnapping case. The day of the game, they sent the father home at midnight without even asking him for a photo of her. This was not the first time the teen had disappeared. About a year earlier she had run away, but authorities found her in two days. Her father said that her mental state was much improved by this point and that she was on good terms with her family. Running away just didn’t make sense. (4)
Despite the father begging the Dallas Police to look for the girl, they referred him to the North Richland Hills in Tarrant County police department, their hometown department. They say this is because runaways are considered juvenile offenders. They cited the Texas Family Code which says that these cases need to be taken care of in their home county. Runaways are a lower priority than abductions.
The police finally put a bulletin out about the girl’s disappearance on April 11, which was three days after she actually went missing. Fed up with the lack of help they were receiving from the police, the family sought the help of the non-profit Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative. Within hours, the organization found nude photos of her online advertising her for sex in Oklahoma City.
The Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative immediately alerted Oklahoma Police. On April 15, the authorities arrested three suspects linked to the case. On April 18, they finally located and rescued the teenager. During the week and a half that it took for her to be rescued, she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by various people.
The Dallas Maverick Arena and Extended Stay America Hotel
The parents also have questions for the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma hotel where authorities found their daughter. Firstly, the father and daughter were season ticket holders and seated in the platinum level, a restricted area of the arena. They want to know how one of the men responsible for her abduction was able to enter the restricted area and why the staff were not more vigilant. Secondly, they want to know why the Extended Stay America Hotel in Oklahoma allowed a registered sex offender with a fake ID and credit cards to book hotel rooms.
“Extended Stay America failed to implement safety and security protocols to protect the teenage victim and ignored clear signs of human trafficking,” said the family’s attorney. “The Dallas Mavericks and the AAC failed to protect the victim from the man with the illegal ticket in a restricted area. Despite being immediately notified of the teenager’s disappearance within minutes of it occurring at the AAC, the Dallas Police Department refused to investigate the case.”
While still waiting for answers from the arena and the hotel, the family is now focused on their daughter’s recovery and helping her come to terms with the trauma she has faced. They are also trying to deal with the reality that there are now nude photos of her online that are next to impossible to get rid of.