A look into child trafficking within Tippecanoe Co.

Tippecanoe County Courthouse (WLFI File Photo)
Tippecanoe County Courthouse (WLFI File Photo)

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Officials in the judicial system said it’s very likely the young women being arrested for prostitution were once trafficked as minors. They said they have dealt with only a few cases of child trafficking.

Tippecanoe County does not have statistics of the exact number of child trafficking cases. Officials say it happens too little to have statistics, but the cases they have dealt with they will never forget.

“Does it happen here? Probably. Do we know it happens here with documented cases? Not so much,” Tippecanoe Superior III Judge Faith Graham said.

In the nine years with the juvenile court, Graham said she has dealt with one case of child sex trafficking where an out-of-state runaway was discovered with several men and another case of allegations of child trafficking.

Graham said Tippecanoe County does not have statistics of how many cases of child trafficking happen in the area. If it were to happen, it would be lumped in the statistics of substantiated sexual abuse cases.

In 2012, there were 57 substantiated sexual abuse cases.

“Could one of those be a concern about human or sex trafficking? Possibly,” Graham said.

Indiana Youth Institute CEO Bill Stanczykiewicz said as more 18, 19, and 20-year-old women are arrested for prostitution, more light could be shed on child sex trafficking.

“Girls, often as teenagers, are trapped in this situation and can’t get out,” Stanczykiewicz said. “This can continue year after year into their adult years.”

Graham said the case she worked involving child sex trafficking happened in January 2012 around the time the city of Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl.

“It allowed us to intervene,” Graham said. “And through the interstate compact, get that child returned to the proper state.”

Bill Lindblom with the public defenders office talked off camera, but on the record about that case in January 2012.

Lindblom said the girl was found with dozens of condoms and several new purchases from the store Victoria’s Secret. He said anything that seems suspicious should be reported.

He stated as an example, if anyone in the Victoria’s Secret store saw a young woman with several men buying new items and they felt it was suspicious, it would have been reason to call the police.

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