Two More Defendants Appear In Court In 13 Yr. Old Sex Slave Case
MIAMI(CBSMiami) – There are new developments in the case of the 13-year-old Miami-Dade sex slave who was forced into prostitution and to work as a nude dancer for three weeks at a South Beach strip club.
Two defendants made court appearances on Thursday and the victim’s mother has hired attorneys who are looking into filing a lawsuit against Club Madonna.
A warrant in this case says 22-year-old Marlene San Vincente tutored the victim known as “D.J.” to maximize her earnings as a nude dancer at Club Madonna.
San Vincente went before a Judge where she was held without bond. San Vincente said she earned $1500 a week as a dancer at the club and planned to hire an attorney. Both she and co-defendant Vilbert Jean, 37, were held without bond after separate court appearances.
The victim’s mother was too upset to speak on camera about this case, according to her attorneys who told CBS4′s Peter D’Oench that she was “devastated.”
The owner of Club Madonna, Leroy Griffith, told D’Oench, “Of course if there is a lawsuit we will defend ourselves. I am sorry this happened. The girl and the friend she was with told us she was 18. This has never happened to us before and we have been in business for 27 years.”
According to details in a warrant in this case, the 13-year-old girl was subject to bodily harm if she didn’t make at least $500 a day.
The City of Miami Police in conjunction with Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office arrested Jean. San Vincente and 18-year-old and DeWayne Ward,18, on January 6th.
The 13-year-old had runaway from her home on December 10th. Her mother located her on January 6th in the area of North Miami Avenue and NE 55 street.
Police said, while she was being held against her will, she had been forced to prostitute herself for the benefit of her alleged exploiters.
On one occasion she was forced to have sex with someone for $80.00, according to the arrest report.
“The whole thing is just horrendous. There’s just no describing honestly in words what these victims are going through,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told CBS4′s Lauren Pastrana.
Between December 13 and January 4th, she was forced to dance as an exotic nude dancer at Club Madonna in Miami Beach when she refused to engage in prostitution. While dancing , police said she earned over $1,000 which she had to surrender to her alleged exploiters.
On Wednesday, Griffith told CBS4′S Gary Nelson that he was just as surprised as anyone.
“We are trying to find out what happened. I didn’t know anything about it until Monday, I think is when they came in with a search warrant looking for paperwork and stuff. We’re working with them. We want to get to the bottom as much as you do,” said Griffith.
San Vicente allegedly supervised and tutored her on how to work the nude club scene and how to maximize her tip earnings for the benefit of her alleged exploiters.
According to police, she was forced to have sex with Ward on more than six occasions.
The three also allegedly provided her with alcohol and large amounts of marijuana while she was under their control.
While being held captive, her alleged exploiters showed her an AK47 assault rifle and a 40 caliber handgun. She was also threatened with bodily harm if she tried to escape, according to the report.
Each defendant is being charged with 1 count of human trafficking,1 count of delivering a controlled substance to a person under 18, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and lewd and lascivious conduct on a person less than 16.
“In every sense of word it really is modern day, modern day slavery is the only way to put it,” Fernandez Rundle said.
“Nightmarish” is how Dawn Thompson describes the abuse.
Thompson is the Assistant Executive Director at Kristi House, an organization dedicated to helping victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.
She said traffickers are predators who give their victims a false sense of security to lure them in.
“They’re going to offer the girls food, a place to stay, a sympathetic ear, and that can go on for weeks,” Thompson said. “And then at some point someone’s going to say to them, now you need to make money for me.”
Thompson said the community must come together to spot and report trafficking.
She said there are many girls out there just like the 13-year-old victim.
“Really think twice before going into these strip clubs in Miami, because there’s a very good chance that you’re part of the problem with commercial sexual exploitation,” Thompson said.
If convicted, the three defendants face up to life in prison.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.