Trans-America: Selling Boys for Sex in the U.S. Capitol

Every day in the capitol of the U.S., boys identifying as gay or transgender are bought and sold for sex by adult men. In Washington D.C., suburban “Johns” with gold wedding bands drive nice cars into the city to regularly solicit these youths for sex. LGBTQ sex trafficking, and especially transgender sex trafficking, is a grossly misunderstood issue. Fortunately, Courtney’s House in Washington, D.C. is one of the few organizations in the country recognizing trafficking of LGBTQ people.

While Washington, D.C. is a hotspot for gay and transgender child sex trafficking, it happens across the country. LGBTQ youth, and especially transgender youth, are at an increased risk for sex trafficking for a number of reasons. They are disproportionally disowned by their families, and the social stigma and institutional bias against this vulnerable population has led to a lack of services, opportunity and epidemic homelessness. Pimps take advantage of these vulnerabilities and profit from selling these children to adult men.

Pimps who specialize in selling LGBTQ and homeless youth are often called “Mamas,” and they lure LGBTQ youth into an artificial, twisted family structure. The “Mama,” usually a transgender woman herself, acts as the head of the household and sets quotas for her makeshift family that they must fulfill each night via prostitution.  If they don’t make the required sum of money, they are socially isolated by the “family” and threatened to be kicked out.  The money that each person makes on the streets is handed over to the Mama, who then gives them a small, token amount of spending money.  This inadequate allowance isn’t enough to cover living expenses, forcing them to borrow money from the Mama and keeping them in debt.


Elizabeth Smart’s Testimony Inspires Communities to Fight Fear

When Elizabeth Smart testified last week against her captor, she had a lot to say about the details of her 9-month ordeal, but not so much about why she never tried to escape. As discusses, Elizabeth likely stayed put due to pure fear — an act of self-preservation common to those victimized by sex trafficking and other predatory crimes. Inspired by stories like Elizabeth’s, the Not One More Child movement seeks to protect kids from ever having to experience that fear.

At the age of 14, Elizabeth was stolen from her home and forced to play the role of one of Brian David Williams’ “celestial wives,” a term that, for the victim, was nowhere near as mystical as it sounded. She was tied to a tree for a month and raped every day, her will weakened by physical force, alcohol and verbal abuse. And she was kept well-hidden, sequestered from the outside world and well-disguised when out in public. Young, impressionable and lacking the resources necessary for escape, Elizabeth was easily kept captive with not only the abuse she endured, but the simplest, most hard-hitting, easiest-to-believe threat: If she ran, Williams would kill her family.

Tactically speaking, predators like sex traffickers are Brian David Williams’ second cousins. Where Williams sought God’s glory (or whatever other motive existed in his deranged mind) through control of his victim, pimps seek profit.  But their means are quite similar. Sex trafficking victims are raped daily by their clients, and their wills are also weakened by drugs, beatings, verbal thrashings, isolation and meaningful threats. Individuals forced into prostitution often remain quiet and do not attempt escape for the same, simple reason as Elizabeth Smart: fear.


Sadistic Sex Offender A Clear Threat To Children

Joel Antonio Barriga

Joel Barriga is no stranger to the law. As a matter of fact, he’s been in trouble throughout his entire life and has a violent history of sexual abuse against children.

When he was in his late teens, Barriga molested four of his neighbors — all siblings, and all between the ages of 4 and 10 years old.

Barriga told the children not to report the vile crimes, but they knew he needed to be punished and reported him anyway. A short time later, Barriga and his friend put a pellet gun up to an opening in the fence surrounding their property, and shot the children’s pet Chihuahua, Tiny, in the chest.

While the dog writhed in pain, yelping and slowly dying on the ground, cops say Barriga danced around, laughing, limping and mocking the dog in its final traumatic moments.

Four years later, when he was just 19 years old, Barriga lured a 14-year-old girl into his house and violently raped her. Afterwards, he threatened to harm her family if she dared tell anyone.

Joel Barriga has no certifiable job skills, and cops tell us he has never been employed. What he does have is a penchant for molesting young children …


Cops: GPS Device No Match For Violent Pedophile

But the brave young girl did tell — and Barriga was eventually arrested, charged and convicted. However, after just a few short years behind bars, he made parole on Feb. 2, 2008.

On Feb. 4, two days after his release, he told the parole board he was a transient — so they strapped a GPS monitoring bracelet to his leg.

Authorities told Barriga to return the following day to provide proof of registration.

Instead, cops tell us he cut off the GPS device and hasn’t been seen since.

Sexual Deviant Most Likely South Of The Border

Joel Barriga has no certifiable job skills, and cops tell AMW he has never been employed.

What he does have is a penchant for molesting young children, and as long as he’s out amongst the populous, no child can be considered safe.

Numerous people have told investigators that Barriga’s headed down to Mexico, though no one has provided authorities with a precise location.

He’s known to travel back and forth between Mexico and southern California, where a number of his family members reside.

Barriga normally has two hoop-earrings in each of his ears, and he has a number of tattoos on his body. On his left forearm, he has the word “Anthony” tattooed in cursive. On his lower right leg, he has a tattoo of two skulls, with a bone protruding from each one. A number of disturbing faces are inked on his right forearm, as well as the word “Radha,” on his right wrist.

If you know where Joel Barriga is hiding, you’ve got to call our Hotline right away at 1-800-CRIME-TV. Remember: You can remain anonymous.


Henderson Woman’s Plea for Help Goes Viral

 One Henderson woman has been battling through years and years of pain with no medical diagnosis. Kristie Tunick was told by local doctors there was nothing they could do for her.

Tunick is suffering from a number of conditions and her hope is fading fast. Her friends are now reaching out to the masses through YouTube. Already, the video has had more than 1 million views. They want her story to get out.

“There is no diagnoses at all as we sit here today,” said Dave Tunick, Kristie’s father. He says if he could trade places with his 33-year-old ailing daughter, he would.

“She’s been probably at every single hospital in Las Vegas, Henderson, and probably spent, in the hospital, 12 months out of a 24-month period. They’ve never seen any individual at any age with the symptoms she has. The symptoms vary,” he said. “Pain, lack of mobility, lack of going to the bathroom, her blood count drops, she’s now losing consciousness every single day and the pain doesn’t stop.”

A YouTube video was made by Kristie’s friend and more than 1 million people have viewed it. The once vibrant, full of life person, talked to 8 News NOW by phone from Pennsylvania where she is hoping to get some answers.

“We don’t know what it is because the cardiologist thinks it’s my heart, another one thinks it’s my brain,” said Kristie Tunick.

She’s desperate and hoping someone can help her.

“Any speciality clinic, any institution that has the ability to do a complete work up on me. I’m 33 and not ready to die.”

Her family is hoping to get into the Mayo Clinic in New York or the National Health Institute. But have had no luck. Their requests have been denied and now they are reaching out to Nevada’s Congressional delegates for help.


Published in: on November 13, 2010 at 2:59 am  Comments (1)  
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Human Remains Found Near Red Rock Canyon

LAS VEGAS — Hikers at the Red Rock Conservation Area on Thursday stumbled upon remains that turned out to be human. Now investigators are trying to figure who it was.

“It could be an injured hiker that was unable to find his or her way out of the area. It could have been a suicide. It could be remains from a homicide. That’s unknown and undetermined at this time,” said Metro Police Lt. Les Lane.

Metro says around 2:30p.m. Thursday, hikers found and reported what appeared to be parts of a human spine wrapped in a shirt. It is too early to tell whether the remains belong to a man or a woman or how old the person was. The bones were found near Black Velvet Canyon in the Red Rock Conservation Area.

Other hikers described the rough terrain near the canyon.

“The only trail that really goes back into the canyon is through a wash which has got a lot of big boulders, like house/vehicle-sized kind of stuff,” said hiker Bryan Hendrick. “At a certain point, it’s blocked and past that, you have probably a 30 foot cliff you have to climb past to continue going up.”

Metro’s Search and Rescue will head to the area Friday to recover the bones. Crime scene investigators will also scour the area looking for any possible evidence. Police say crews will need some time to positively identify the remains.


Forensic Drawings Raise Hope in Jessica Foster Case

Four years ago, Jessica Edith Louise Foster, a 21-year-old woman from Canada, vanished from the streets of Las Vegas, Nevada. Her family suspects foul play and believes she is a human trafficking victim.

In an effort to spur new leads in the case, Jessie’s family has released two age-progressed portraits, by forensic artist Diana Trepkov, depicting how Jessie might appear today. The drawings depict her in both a natural and unnatural physical condition.

The natural and healthy depiction of Jessie shows normal changes in her facial features. Around the eyes, mouth and cheeks, the age lines are slightly more pronounced and visible. There is less youthful fullness in her facial features and she has a thinner appearance overall.

The unnatural depiction of Jessie shows age progression, along with physical effects that would be expected of someone being held as a sex slave.

“Jessie is depicted in the first drawing as a victim who has not been treated as badly as she is in the second drawing,” reads a press release issued by Jessie’s mother, Glendene Grant. “The reason of course, is because we do not know the way Jessie is being treated and we had to ensure both scenarios were seen.”


“Jessie was born in Calgary on May 27, 1984. She was the second daughter for Dwight Foster and myself,” Glendene told Investigation Discovery. “On June 27, 1987, I moved back to Kamloops, where I grew up and my parents still lived.”

According to Glendene, Jessie stayed with her in Kamloops until she reached the age of 16, when she moved back to Calgary to live with her father.  

“It was very sad for me but the Internet was something that made me feel that she was no farther away than the other room,” Glendene said. “Jessie was in chats with her sisters and me practically daily.”

Jessie did well in school and in June 2002, her mother and siblings drove to Calgary for her high school graduation ceremony. After receiving her diploma, Jessie got her own apartment and began working two jobs. She continued doing that until the spring of 2005, when she moved back to Kamloops.

“About three weeks later, Jessie started getting calls from a man named Donald – someone she knew from when she was a teenager,” Glendene said. “During one of her conversations with him, Donald asked Jessie if she wanted to go on a short trip with him to Florida to visit his mother. She told us he was paying for the trip and wanted company for the vacation. We did not feel that this was wrong, but we did ask Jessie if this guy wanted anything in return. She assured us he did not [and] went away, coming home a few days later with pictures of the trip.”

According to Glendene, Donald called Jessie again a few weeks later and asked her to go with him to New York and New Jersey.

“She was to go to these places and fly back home, but for some reason her trip got changed and she ended up going to Las Vegas. She arrived there on May 13, 2005. She called us and said she had decided to visit a friend she knew there. That friend was dating a man who introduced Jessie to another man, named Peter.”

Peter and Jessie allegedly got engaged and lived together in a 3.4 million dollar home in Las Vegas. Over the course of the next year Jessie racked up several arrests for prostitution and at one point was beaten so severely that she had to be hospitalized.

In 2006, Jessie stopped calling home and her family began to fear something had happened to her. They contacted Peter for answers and he allegedly told them that Jessie had left him in April 2006.  Concerned, Glendene reported her daughter missing to police. Unfortunately, there were few clues to follow and the case went cold.

With the passing of four years, Jessie’s mother is even more determined to find out what happened to her daughter. She has been actively involved in the case from the beginning and currently maintains a website devoted to the case. According to the site, a $50,000 dollar reward is being offered for information in the case.

“I have worked tirelessly in my search for my missing daughter and I will never stop until I find her,” Glendene said. “If Jessie is alive, we need to find her and if Jessie is not alive, we need to find her so her soul can rest in peace. Either way, I will find my daughter.”

Jessie is described as 5’7″ and 120 lbs., with blonde hair and hazel eyes. Anyone with information is asked to call Las Vegas Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

Photo Credits: Contributed

 Link to photo’s:


Published in: on November 10, 2010 at 6:41 am  Comments (2) Sued for Knowingly Promoting Child Prostitution

A child sex trafficking survivor has filed a lawsuit against Village Voice Media, claiming they knowingly promoted the forced prostitution of a minor on their online classified site, The suit comes just days after Craigslist testified before Congress that their “adult services” section was closed for good in the U.S. Is this lawsuit the next wave of a changing tide in the fight against online exploitation of children?

The survivor bringing the suit, identified only as M.A. since she is still a minor, was first sold into the commercial sex industry at age 14 after running away from home. Her pimp pled guilty last week to taking pornographic photos of a minor and posting them to, promoting sex with a minor on Backpage, and several related crimes. That child pornography was posted to Backpage and that child trafficking was facilitated through Backpage is not debated. The question is, did the operators of Backpage know these ads were 1.) pornographic pictures of a minor and 2.) promoting prostitution of that minor. The law suit claims they did, although the details as to how are left pretty vague. According to the filing,

“Defendant had a strong suspicion that the aforementioned crimes were being committed. Defendant had a desire that these posters accomplished their nefarious illegal prostitution activities so that the posters would return to the website and pay for more posting. Therefore, actual knowledge of the specific crime is unnecessary under the ‘ostrich rule’ which allows an inference of knowledge, in that at best defendant was deliberately ignorant of the specific crimes that were being committed on its website.”


Join the National Day of Action to End Child Sex Trafficking in America

At least 100,000 American children are forced into prostitution each year, right here in the U.S. You can help make that number zero by uniting your voice with thousands of people from across the country to demand an end to child sex trafficking and pass landmark legislation which will keep traffickers off the streets, punish those who buy sex with kids, and protect victims.

On November 17, the National Coalition to End Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking is organizing a National Day of Action to pass the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act. Right now in the U.S., there are only a handful of shelter beds for the thousands of children who are being removed from prostitution each year. This legislation will mean more young domestic sex trafficking survivors will have access to the shelter and restorative care services they need. It will also increase resources for law enforcement to arrest and prosecute the traffickers and predators who victimize our children.

This law can absolutely become a reality for the hundreds of thousands of trafficked children in the U.S. The Senate bill is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate and the House bill picked up steam after the Sept 15th House Judiciary hearing where Craigslist announced the permanent closure of their erotic ads in the U.S. But time is running out for the current 111th Congress, and it is critical to pass this legislation, especially in the House, before the session ends.

Here’s how you can make this historic bill to fight child sex trafficking in America become law:


Tell Village Voice Media to Stop Child Sex Trafficking on

Child sex trafficking on, owned by Village Voice Media, is becoming a disturbing trend.

Earlier this week a Georgia man was arrested for pimping two 17-year-old girls around the Nashville area. Detectives responded to a suspicious ad on and drove to a motel. There, they found the teens and their 37-year-old pimp, as well as a laptop computer, likely used for the online advertising. Just four days prior to that, four people in Denver were arrested for forcing a teen girl into prostitution. They also advertised her sexual services, including semi-nude pictures, on Backpage. And last year, a South Dakota couple was arrested for selling underage girls for sex on …. wait for it … yet again.

Backpage’s terms of use, of course, prohibit advertising for illegal commercial sex acts or exploiting minors, but both are happening anyway in Nashville, Denver, and Sioux City. And like Craigslist, Backpage and their parent company Village Voice Media are doing little to prevent the sale of children or trafficked adults on their site. Village Voice Media has a duty to ensure that young girls aren’t being abused in the commercial sex industry with help from their website, and that they aren’t facilitating human trafficking.

humanPlease, ask Village Voice Media to stop child sex trafficking on


Demi Moore Sells Personal Toy Collection to End Child Sex Trafficking

Actress and advocate Demi Moore is so committed to eliminating child sex trafficking in the U.S. and around the world, she is selling some of her prized possessions to raise money for the cause. Demi’s personal toy collection is up for auction on Ebay this week. Every penny of the proceeds will go to fund the DNA Foundation, an anti-trafficking nonprofit she set up with husband Ashton Kutcher. Demi’s toy auction and the campaigns it will fund demonstrate how creative celebrities can fight human trafficking.

Demi Moore, as it turns out, is a passionate toy collector as well as a modern-day abolitionist. But she has been generously willing to part with some of her collection in order to support the DNA Foundation, which recently announced the launch of their new “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” campaign at the Clinton Global Initiative last month. The campaign is based on the idea that high-profile men speaking out against child sex trafficking can help reduce the demand for young and younger girls in the commercial sex trade. So far Ben Stiller, Michael Phelps, and Snoop Dogg have signed up, along with Ashton Kutcher. 100% of the proceeds from the Ebay auction will go to support “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” and other DNA Foundation efforts to fight child sex trafficking in the U.S.

The DNA Foundation auction runs from November 1 -11 on Ebay. You can check it out and bid for items here.  And while the idea of celebrities selling personal items to raise money for a cause they support may not be revolutionary, this is (as far as I know) the first celebrity stuff auction of this scale to support human trafficking prevention. And it’s not surprising that Demi and Ashton, who have become the queen and king of celebrities fighting trafficking, are behind this effort. What is surprising is Demi’s apparent affinity for the mid-90s Nickelodeon show Rugrats. I thought I was the only Rugrats fan left in the U.S.

So check out the Demi Moore’s toy auction and bid on something fun, whether it’s for a child in your life or a shelf in your living room. You’ll not only be the proud possessor of something formerly owned by G.I. Jane herself, but you’ll also be helping support an organization working to end child sex trafficking here in the U.S. and around the world.