Prosecutors Say Sex Trafficking of Minors a Growing Problem
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Federal prosecutors say the case against 26-year-old Marques Williams is yet another example of commercial sex trade in our area. He's accused of advertising a 15-year-old girl as a prostitute on a website. That girl allegedly worked as a prostitute for Williams during the summer months of last year.
Prosecutors believe Marques Williams rented a room at the East Avenue Inn in Rochester where the minor allegedly met with clients. Back in March, Williams’ father, Michael, was arrested and charged in a seperate sex trafficking case. However, the Western New York DA's Office says the father apparently knows the son's alleged victim.
Earlier this year, the D.A.'s Office reported another local case of alleged trafficking of minors in a sex trade with the arrest of 40-year-old Thomas Cramer. The Brighton man was charged with promoting and profiting from the commercial sex trade involving teenage girls.
"So many people that think it means girls or young girls, or boys coming in from outside countries,” said Andra Ackerman.
Ackerman is deputy chief of the Special Victims Trial Division in the Monroe County District Attorney's Office. She says the problem of sex trafficking is growing not only in Monroe County, but surrounding counties as well. She says often times the victims involved are runaways or drug users-- who are under the close watch of a perpetrator.
"They will actually wait outside of schools and see which kids are hanging around the school afterward, they'll go to bus stops, the mall. Really good perpetrators can look at a girl and assess within 15 minutes whether they can get her to work for them,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman says work is being done on a state level to identify victims and not view them as prostitutes, but rather as victims of domestic sex trafficking.
"There are programs out there that can reach out to the vunerable population and really provide them mentors."
Marques Williams was released to his step-father with an electronic monitoring device. If convicted, he faces a minimum of ten years in prison. No word on his next court date.
His dad meantime was at a detention hearing in federal court Wednesday morning to argue release while he awaits trial, but a judge sent Michael Williams back to the Steuben County Jail.