New York City police say they are trying to rescue teens forced into prostitution, only to find that the girls often don’t want their help.
A state law enacted last year considers prostitutes under the age of 18 victims, not criminals, and police are encouraged not to charge them with a crime.
But according to Inspector James Capaldo, head of the NYPD’s new anti-sex trafficking division, their efforts to help girls forced into prostitution are often spurned, he told the City Council at a hearing on sex trafficking yesterday.
The teens are often terrified of being punished by their pimp, or they’re brainwashed into thinking he is a boyfriend, said Capaldo. They also often lie and say they are 19.
“Sometimes they refuse to talk,” he said. “If it takes a man six weeks to put this woman in a situation, how do we undo that in 46 hours?”
The teen prostitutes often advertise their illegal services on Backpage.com, according to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.
Earlier this year, in Brooklyn, a tip led police to “Jennifer,” 18, who refused to testify against her pimp. Instead, prosecutors found him through a prostitution website. He was charged with sex trafficking.
Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro.