Police in Florida have uncovered a high school prostitution ring run by a 17-year-old girl and a boy, 15. The high school teens recruited fellow students and used social media to transact deals for which they charged between $50 and $100 in cash plus alcohol.
It is believed that the idea to sell students for sex in exchange for alcohol and money was hatched during the summer. After speaking with students, Florida police believe that at least three deals for sex were made using Facebook’s private messaging service as well as Kik and Snapchat. A search warrant obtained by police for the Facebook account of the 17-year-old girl resulted in the discovery of messages between she and the 15-year-old boy, other participants of the ring and prospective clients and included information on how the the deals would be made. Police also discovered the rates charged for the different services offered, which included between $50 and $70 for oral sex and $100 for sex with a virgin. The prostitutes received 40 percent of the money.
The alleged prostitution ring at Venice High School was discovered after four students of the school told the School Resource Officer in October that they were being recruited to join the ring by the 17-year-old, who attended Sarasota High, and the 15-year-old male student who had once attended their school. It was during the same time period that police were investigating a Florida man named John Michael Mosher, 21, for having an alleged sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl from Riverview High School.
The 17-year-old girl ring leader was arrested on Friday by Venice, Florida, police and has been charged with felony human trafficking. Her accomplice, the 15-year-old boy, had already been taken into custody on unrelated charges, but will also be charged with human trafficking for this case, said Captain Tom Mattmuller of the Venice police. Both juveniles are in custody in the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. The Guardian Liberty Voice does not identify juveniles who have been charged with or are victims of crimes.
Also taken into custody on Friday was Mosher. According to police, he paid to have sex with a 15-year-girl in the shed of a community pool in August. The girl was not a willing participant, and told Mosher that she did not want to have sex with him and that she wanted to leave. He held her against a wall of the shed to prevent her from leaving. Mosher paid for the girl with a bottle of liquor and an additional $40. He faces charges of sexual battery of a person older than 12 years of age, which is a felony. He is currently jailed without bond under orders that there is no further contact between he, the 17-year-old or the victim. Jail records indicate that Mosher was homeless and worked as a dishwasher, but formed part of the same social group as the students involved.
It is believed that the 15-year-old victim is the only person who was actually sold for prostitution, and that after the two ring leaders received payment for her from Mosher, they made a push to recruit more members in hopes of making more money and alcohol. Witnesses have told police that at least some of the money earned was used to buy drugs.
Florida police believe that no activity related to the prostitution ring occurred on school property. The principal of Sarasota High School, speaking for the school district, said no comments will be made because the investigation is ongoing.
By Jennifer Pfalz
Photo of Venice High School by Laurie Avocado – License