Her feet hurt after every shift, but, she says with a smile, “I’m making money legally.” Looking back, what surprises her most about her ordeal “is that I made it out alive,” she says.
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When one did, Summer pulled herself into the cab of his rig and, as the trucker casually watched a small TV, turned her first trick.
“I was scared,” she says, now 15, recalling the first of hundreds of forced encounters with truckers two or three times her age. So I thought, ‘Just do it, and don’t cause problems.'” Summer (not her real name) has decided to tell her story to shine light on a shameful crime—the sex trafficking of minors in the U. Investigators say there are likely hundreds of underage girls like Summer who have been lured to work as prostitutes in truck stops in Oklahoma, Washington, California and other states. “A family pulling into one of these truck stops wouldn’t know this is going on.
A BUBBLY, PONYTAILED GIRL FROM OKLAHOMA CITY, FOND OF VOLLEYBALL AND SPONGEBOB Square Pants, she found herself far from home and stranded at a truck stop along Texas’s Interstate 40 on a chilly January night three years ago.
In jeans and T-shirt, she walked to a strip of tarmac where several 18-wheelers were parked—an area known as “Party Row”—and waited for a trucker to flash his headlights.
“I get pushed in, and that’s it.” Summer’s mother, Cindy, reported her daughter missing to police after Summer disappeared from the family house in January 2003.
Although police investigated her as a runaway, it was up to Summer herself to escape from her keepers.
Once in the car, the pair offered Summer marijuana and alcohol.
In exchange the pimp pays for room and board and occasional perks.
“You get to get your nails done, go tanning, get your hair done,” says Linlee, 18, an Oklahoma City native who became a truck stop prostitute at 12. That’s why a lot of younger girls fall into it.” At the same time the pimps don’t allow the girls to make phone calls or leave the motels where they typically house them without supervision.
She agreed to go on a day trip with him to Oklahoma City—and soon found herself in a car with his father, Bobby Prince Sr. I couldn’t even cry.” Lisa spent the next four months working as a truck stop prostitute. They say things like, ‘If you leave, I’ll kill you and your family.'” Caught in an FBI raid in 2004, both Princes pleaded guilty to sex-trafficking. At 13 she began working to earn money for her family as a maid at a hotel, where an older coworker “told me she knew a great way to make money and everybody was doing it,” says Jennifer. I didn’t talk, I just did as I was told.” In the cab of a truck she had sex with a man in his 50s “who was fat and stunk,” says Jennifer.
“He said, ‘I’m a pimp, and you’re my ‘ho and you’re going to make me money,'” remembers Lisa, now 18. When people ask her why she didn’t just jump out of the car or run away, “I try to explain to them that it’s not that easy. FBI Special Agent Beaver testified at their detention hearing about how the younger Prince threatened the girls with a gun while his father once found another of their girls at a movie theater and choked her before dragging her across a parking lot to a car. “She didn’t specifically tell me what I’d be doing until her son brought me into the city.” Later that day she was taken to a truck stop and handed baby wipes and condoms. “He told me how beautiful I was and tipped me an extra [because it was my first time].” She says she was able to have sex with truckers over the next three months because “afterwards, what you did kind of goes away.