Whenever someone asks me what I’ve Got a Name is, the next question they ask is something along the lines of “Does that really happen here?” I reply with an awful yes and it always hits home. They realize Nebraska really isn’t as safe as they had thought it was. This is the reoccurring problem on the topic of sex trafficking in Nebraska- people are unaware and uninformed. Thus, I have gathered sources to show you the considerable amount of people being bought and sold right here in our state.
December 2008: Leonard Russell convicted in Iowa of harboring, transporting and coercing two Nebraska girls (ages 15 and 16) to perform commercial sex acts (i.e. performances at strip clubs.) The girls had run away from a group home in Fremont and Russell picked them up, later telling them the only way to earn money was by “getting dates” in exchange for the food, shelter, transportation and clothing. Police in Washington, D.C eventually rescued the 15-year-old. Attorney General’s Office Report
April 2010: Richard Costanzo, president of an escort company Dream Girls Inc., arrested for running a prostitution ring in Nebraska, Iowa and the surrounding areas. He had underage girls working for him. He advertised his girls on several different escort websites claiming “Our girls are available 24 hours a day, and can be at your doorstep within one hour to accommodate any situation.” Omaha World Herald Article
February 2011: Mary Crane Horton (32) and Nate Horton (35) sentenced to 17.5 and 14.5 years in prison for trafficking 6 women. They coerced a 15-year-old girl to perform commercial sex acts. The girl had met another prostitute who worked for them through friends at her high school. They used violence & threats on girls to keep them in line. KETV Video Report
January 2011: Jared Rosenow (42) a registered sex offender from Friend, Nebraska, arrested for attempting to coerce a girl to have sex with him, threatening to report her to the police for posting an ad for a “female encounter” on Craigslist. KETV Article
January 2013: Michelle Randall (35) of Upland, Nebraska sentenced to up to 90 years in prison for first-degree sexual assault of a child and possession of child pornography. Randall was arrested after meeting with an undercover officer she believed to be a customer willing to pay $150 to $200 to have sex with her and a 14-year-old girl. The investigation revealed Randall had pornographic pictures of 14- and 7-year-old children on her cell phone and had arranged numerous sexual acts with the two children in several counties. Kearney Hub Article
See, sex trafficking doesn’t only exist in foreign countries. Despite common belief, it is everywhere affecting everyone- your next-door neighbor, your coworker, your classmate. Repost this to your Facebook, Twitter, or other social network to inform your friends, family, and loved ones of the local epidemic. If you do know of someone who may be under the influence of sex trafficking, our director of outreach- Nikki Siegel, is willing to sit down with him/her to take the next steps of getting out of a hostile environment. Nikki works full time at The Bay (an official Safe Place), located at 2005 Y Street.