Nightline (Television program). [2010-09-22], Pornland USA: Teen Prostitutes


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Created: 2010

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Nightline (Television program). [2010-09-22], Pornland USA: Teen Prostitutes
Summary: "Thanks to numerous strip joints and massage parlors, Portland Oregon, has also earned the nickname Porland. It is also an epicenter for child prostitution. Many of the girls are not kidnapped or runaways -- they're tricked into walking the streets in exchange for clothing, jewelry or just human love. It seemed implausible for one of the most livable cities to be a hub of this sort of thing. The Nightline team did some research and called some advocacy groups first -- which then they directed us to the sex trafficking unit for the Portland Police. Almost immediately we developed a relationship with a detective Meghan Burkeen who subsequently put us in touch with corrections officers (to find pimps) and social workers (to find young girls). The calls were daily for four months. These were not runaways; these were suburban girls who met guys at the mall who bought them nice things. There are only a handful of cops who specialize in prostitution and human trafficking in the city, and they patrol the streets looking for any new young faces. But it's incredibly difficult to prove these girls are doing anything wrong'if they show up in the same trouble spots often enough, that's a red flag. Often times, the police check the girls cell phones for texts -- that's the main technique for a pimp to communicate with them. It's also incredibly tasking to find victims willing to talk, on camera. Nightline Producer Ursula Fahy had countless conversations with girls who were temporarily off the street who were under 16 that gave Fahy their word that they'd talk to her, but then they would disappear, not answer calls, and go missing. Often, the pimps would traffic them up and down the northwest corridor, so Fahy made a connection, the girl would fall back into prostitution and her pimp would get nervous and move positions with her. When they're young they are worth so much more money for the pimp, and they are also so much more damaging, so they keep them extremely protected. We finally found a 'reformed' pimp to speak with us. She was a prostitute, then moved up to 'bottom bitch' (that's the term for head prostitute) and decided to organize girls on her own. Once we had her, we decided to head to Portland and do some interviews. We spent several nights in patrols with cops driving up and down the track talking to girls, mostly about 17 or 18 that had been out there for a couple of years'they had ponytails flip flops and pedicures. Fahy was in constant contact with two organizations -- Sexual Assualt Resource Center and Shared Hope. On the first trip, they had JUST rescued a 15 year old girl who they were trying to get into a shelter and was willing to talk in shadow. On the second trip, the cops set up a hotel sting, they ordered up a bunch of girls online, but the trail went cold quickly -- one girl got suspicious and spread the word. We also met a single mother who made six figures and lived in fancy neighborhood whose daughter had gone missing. A week and a half later, we turned the pieces around for Nightline to an astounding number of responses from viewers. "--2010 Peabody Awards entry form.

Corporate Producers: ABC News | ABC Television Network

Persons Appearing: Sharyn Alfonsi (Reporter)

Broadcast Date: 2010-09-22