JUVENILE SEX TRAFFICKING ARREST MADE FOLLOWING SOCIAL MEDIA TIP
Thursday, May 7, 2015
—A 26-year-old man has been charged with involuntary sexual servitude of a minor after the Cook County Sheriff’s Special Operations Unit arrested him during an undercover operation, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said today.
Kinshasha Johnson, of Chicago, was arrested May 5 following a social media tip made by a concerned member of the community. In mid-April, a local law student began looking Backpage.com as part of a research project on prostitution. In recent years, Backpage’s “adult services” page has emerged as the most prominent facilitator and profiteer of human trafficking and prostitution in the United States, with Sheriff Dart frequently calling on legislators to amend the federal law that allows Backpage’s owners to claim immunity for this criminal activity.
During her research, the law student came across an advertisement that appeared to feature a girl in her mid-teens. Suspecting juvenile prostitution, she brought the ad to the attention of Sheriff Dart via his Twitter account (@tomdart), which initiated the Sheriff’s investigation.
During the investigation, members of the Special Operations Unit matched the picture in the ad to the Facebook account of a 16-year-old girl. The Facebook account also included photos and correspondence between the victim and Johnson. Sheriff’s investigators learned that the girl recently ran away from her home in Central Illinois and was suspected to be in Chicago.
In late April, Sheriff’s investigators learned that the victim was likely with Johnson and engaging in sex acts for money. Meanwhile, ads appearing to feature the same girl began appearing on Backpage’s Milwaukee page.
On Monday, Sheriff’s investigators received information indicating Johnson and the victim had traveled to the South Side of Chicago. The Special Operations Unit located them in separate apartments in building. Johnson was placed under arrest, and subsequent investigation confirmed that he had indeed been profiting off of sex acts performed by the victim, who has since been returned to her home and offered support services through the Sheriff’s Office.
Jackson was charged Wednesday with involuntary sexual servitude of a minor under 17 (Class X felony), promoting juvenile prostitution under 18 (Class 1 felony) and trafficking for labor/benefits (Class 1 felony). He is scheduled to appear in bond court today (Thursday) at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courts Building.
“This investigation and arrest clearly demonstrate how the public can get directly involved in the fight against sex trafficking. I implore all concerned members of our community who suspect incidents of sex trafficking to work with my office via phone, email or social media,” said Sheriff Dart. “Additionally, this arrest yet again confirms that Backpage is nothing more than a criminal enterprise that profits off of human misery and sexual slavery.”
Sheriff Dart wishes to thank the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office for its support throughout this investigation.
Sheriff Dart also reminds the public that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the government in a court of law.