Local teen freed from sex slavery; two charged

L: Derwin Kerr; R: Dominic Mitchell

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Police say two dangerous men are off the streets after forcing a young girl to be a sex slave. Derwin Kerr and Dominic Mitchell are charged with trafficking a child, a first degree felony that carries a possible life sentence.

Investigators tell KXAN the victim was considered a missing person in January and was found nearly a month later at one of the suspects’ apartments. Police are still looking for two others they say are involved.

Investigators say Kerr and Mitchell met a 15–year-old girl online and convinced her to meet them on 6th Street. From there, police say she went home with them and for nearly a month was a sex slave — advertised online.

“They are making money off of these girls and the demand is the reason we still have this crime,” Sparks said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re doing this to other girls right now.”

Investigators with the Department of Public Safety eventually found the girl at one of the suspects’ homes. But they say for several nights they kept her at a Motel 6 not far from downtown Austin.

Sparks says they’re starting to work with kids as young as middle school; teaching them what to look out for when on social networking sites.

“We need to give these kids the tools to look out for predators and to know the signs and respond appropriately,” she explained.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 81 percent of missing children are runaways. Austin Police say any time there is a big event in town it can lead to more sex trafficking cases.They say it’s based off supply and demand. With more people in town there’s a higher demand for sex. APD’s human trafficking unit said today that they’ll be closely watching for at-risk runaways, prostitution and trafficking during South by Southwest.

Austin Police are also changing the way they treat victims in sex trafficking cases. In October, we revealed APD’s human trafficking unit was shifting its strategy. Instead of sending the girls and young women to jail, they are helping them find a safe place to go. In many cases, they are taken to shelters and drug recovery centers. Though police also warned they have difficulty finding appropriate housing.

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