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Human trafficking suspect accused of prostituting young girls

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Jerry Mitchell covered his face on the way to court Wednesday morning to face an initial hearing on charges of child molesting, human trafficking and promoting prostitution.

Mitchell is accused of coercing two girls, one 16 and the other, a 12-year-old with mental disabilities, into having sex with himself, his friends and other men.

“He raped me,” one girl told metro police detectives. “The pimp had us on the street… to make money.”

“He gives condoms and tells us where to go,” said one girl, who added that she was told to, “walk like a prostitute.”

One child told police that she would charge men $70-80 for 15 minutes of sex.

Mitchell’s arrest follows Monday’s announcement by the FBI of a nationwide crackdown on human traffickers exploiting young girls for sex. During that operation, the FBI arrested 159 adults and rescued 105 teenage girls.

Sarah Russell and Katie McAtee are Central Indiana school teachers, preparing for the start of classes after having just returned from two months in southeast Asia where they counseled young girls rescued from brothels and the sex trade.

“I would say most of the girls that are at the safe house are removed from extreme poverty,” said Russell who found some girls as young as five years old were sold by their families into the sex trade.

McAtee uses her art skills to get through to the girls who have been rescued.

“The girls draw houses and flowers and they draw their families and friends and I think that’s a huge testament to how much healing that’s already happened by the time they get to me.”

McAtee has been to southeast Asia four times to work with rescued children. Russell is in her seventh year of rescue work.

Both said it is less common to see men walking hand-in-hand with young girls.

“When you see that, there is something that builds up inside of you that just wants to yell and scream, ‘What are you doing?’” said McAtee.

“Obviously, trafficking happens here and a lot of times that happens with runaways and if that child that ran away had a mentor and somebody in their life that provided them some sort of value, that is a significant thing to keep them off the streets and keep them safe.”

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