Orlando, Florida authorities arrested four people after discovering a then-17-year-old girl was dancing in a local strip club.
Flash Dancer owner William Sierer, and managers, Jonathan Johnson, Kimberly Sinclair and Paul DeValle each face a human trafficking felony charge for commercial sexual activity of a child.
The unidentified teen has been dancing at Flash Dancer strip club since she was 15. She worked there until 2021 when she was 17, News 6 reported. An affidavit claimed the adults had her working at the strip club without proof of her identification or a county-required entertainer’s license. The Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI) had investigated the shady Orlando club from September 2019 to February 2021.
The girl told the MBI in February 2021 that she said she was 20 when she started working at Flash Dancer. She told investigators that she worked several jobs, including other local adult entertainment clubs, to support herself and her mother, according to Fox 35.
Court documents noted that the adults “knowingly permitted private performances, lewdness and specified sexual activity to occur” involving the teen. The group of four suspected traffickers also reportedly featured the 17-year-old teen in prostitution ads, using her stage name.
The lengthy investigation also included surveillance footage from March 2021 that included staff performing sexual acts inside the club. Johnson was reportedly at the club controlling what the women did.
The affidavit said the Orlando strip club owner failed to provide MBI with “an accurate list” of employees. The legal document accused the establishment of excluding the teen “from every list sent to MBI, during the time (the victim) spent dancing at the establishment.”
Information on Black girls in Florida who are victims or survivors of sex trafficking is lacking.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline in Florida received 1,146 signals from victims of human trafficking victims and survivors in 2021. Out of those alerts, 638 were about females, 574 were sex trafficking-related and 151 concerned minors. The southernmost state also ranks third in the country for human trafficking.
In February 2021, survivor-led nonprofit Voices for Florida posted footage from a panel titled Perspectives: The Impact of Sex Trafficking on Black Women and Girls. The organization supports Florida’s Open Doors Outreach Network. The latter is a 24/7 service dedicated to young sex trafficking victims.
Panelist Chanel Dionne spoke on how the adultification of Black girls can impact foster care and sex trafficking outcomes around the 46:26 minute mark.
Dionne, a survivor-mentor and advocate against human trafficking and sexual exploitation, said, “People are assuming that these girls should be more independent. That they’re already adults. [That] they’re making all these decisions on their own and they don’t need the support of the community, when in fact, they do. “
An undated report by The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation stated that “through a two-year review of all suspected human trafficking incidents in the U.S., 40 percent of sex trafficking victims were identified as Black women.”
Nonprofit Rights4Girls noted in a 2018 fact sheet that girls make up nearly 61 percent of juvenile prostitution arrests, and Black children account for nearly 53 percent.
The number for the National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-888-373-7888.
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