Human Trafficking: Parents of Texas teen who left the Dallas Mavericks game speak out on sex trafficking case

DALLAS, Texas — The parents of a 15-year-old Texas girl who walked out of a Mavericks game with an unidentified man in April, which ultimately led to a human trafficking investigation, are speaking out to raise awareness of human trafficking.

The video above is from a previous report.

Kyle and Brooke Morris said in an interview with ESPN and Good Morning America that they want their daughter’s story to be a warning about the dangers of human trafficking and the use of laws to deal with crime.

“We just want to make sure people understand … that this can happen to anyone, anywhere,” Kyle Morris said. “Even if you don’t think it’s possible, there are people out there who want to make it possible.”

Police found the girl on the side of the road in Oklahoma City ten days after Morris, her stepfather, reported her missing at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. According to her parents and attorney, she had been taken to an Oklahoma City hotel where she was sexually assaulted on multiple occasions, starved to death and not allowed to bathe.

SEE RELATED STORY: A North Texas teen who disappeared at Mav’s game was solicited and sold for sex, authorities say

The nonprofit Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative helped locate the girl through an online ad asking for sex.

Three people were arrested in Oklahoma City and charged with human trafficking and other crimes. Your cases are pending.

The parents said their daughter is safe, has sought treatment to recover from her trauma and is doing well. According to the family lawyer, the girl has given her parents permission to discuss the case publicly. ESPN does not name her because she is a minor.

The girl told her mother a few days after she was found that she had met “so many other girls” in Oklahoma.

“And she said, ‘I wonder how long they’ve been in this life, but no one’s been looking for them,'” Brooke Morris said.

Mavericks season ticket holder Kyle Morris said that he and his stepdaughter were at the Platinum Level Arena on the night of the April 8 game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Just before halftime, the girl told him she had to go to the bathroom. He said she didn’t have her phone with her and left her ID and debit card in their place. When she didn’t return, he alerted security, who searched the restrooms and inside the arena. Morris said an off-duty police officer editing the match told him that surveillance video showed the girl walking out of the arena and that she was last seen entering a nearby parking garage.

Zeke Fortenberry, the family attorney who saw the surveillance video, said the girl did not appear to have left by force. Kyle and Brooke said their daughter had a history of leaving home without her permission. In those cases, Kyle Morris said, she went with people she knew, and in at least one case even left a note.

“This time,” he told ESPN, “… everything was different.”

Fortenberry said the American Airlines Center and the Mavericks were helpful in finding out what happened. Kyle said he found an email address for Mark Cuban and emailed the Mavericks owner, who responded within minutes, adding people who could help and telling them to use any resources that they needed.

“What happened to the unnamed teenager after she left American Airlines Center facilities on April 8, 2022 is tragic, and the American Airlines Center and the Dallas Mavericks are glad she is safe now and wish her well.” all the best on your road to recovery. Attorney Scott C. Thomas said in a statement to ESPN, who is responding on behalf of the American Airlines Center and the Mavericks.

Thomas added, “The American Airlines Center has never had evidence that a human trafficking group was in the arena, including in relation to this incident.”

According to Thomas, arena security personnel began reviewing the video footage shortly after Kyle Morris reported his stepdaughter missing, provided a video to authorities, and had Fortenberry, Morris’ lawyer, view the video.

Kyle said an off-duty officer suggested he return home — the family lives in North Richland Hills, about 30 miles away — to report his daughter missing there. North Richland Hills confirmed to ESPN that it received a report from Kyle and that an officer entered the information into a national missing persons database early on April 9. The North Richland Hills Police Department added a “vulnerable” flag to the report on April 11.

A Dallas Police Department spokesman declined an interview request but said via email that the department prepared a report and assisted the North Richland Hills Police Department. A bulletin about the missing girl was published on April 11. Dallas Police confirmed that an off-duty official at the game was notified of a missing person and that the event and venue were searched that night. The speaker referred to a section of the Texas Family Code. Authorities have interpreted the code to mean that cases of missing juveniles should be investigated as runaways unless circumstances indicate an involuntary act such as kidnapping or kidnapping.

“These cases per code must be filed where the juvenile resides,” Dallas Police said in an email to ESPN.

Said Kyle, “For this situation, I will only say that I believe Dallas’ interpretation or application of this part of the Family Code is incorrect.”

Kyle said he and his wife ended up jumping back and forth between jurisdictions for information about their daughter’s disappearance, fearing the investigation was not making any headway. The parents told ESPN that they were not aware of any formal investigation by the Dallas Police Department.

The family contacted the Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative after the girl went missing for six days, Morris said. They did this on the recommendation of a family friend who had been through a similar situation. The anti-trafficking group located the girl within hours and notified the Oklahoma City Police Department.

On April 15, Oklahoma City police searched rooms at an Extended Stay America Hotel on West Reno Avenue. They made three initial arrests but did not find the girl. After an anonymous tip, police found her three days later walking with another person 6 miles from the hotel. How she got to Oklahoma City remains unclear.

Among those arrested are Kenneth Levan Nelson and Sarah Hayes, who face charges of human trafficking and other offences. They have preliminary hearing conferences scheduled for August 15. Steven Hill, who was charged with Rape II, has a preliminary hearing on July 11. Nelson is being held on a $300,000 bond, while Hayes is being held on a $250,000 bond and Hill on $25,000 bail, according to court records.

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain any type of work or commercial sex. Millions of people are trafficked worldwide every year, including in the United States. Traffickers often use violence, manipulation or false promises to lure victims into trafficking situations.

The national human trafficking hotline is 1-888-373-7888.

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https://abc13.com/teen-human-trafficking-case-missing-texas-teenager-dallas-mavericks-game-sex/11981056/ Human Trafficking: Parents of Texas teen who left the Dallas Mavericks game speak out on sex trafficking case

Dais Johnston

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