CNN.com has a disturbing article about two 16 year old girls who pimped out other girls at their school (age 14 to 17). They rented an apartment for the sole purpose of setting up sexual liaisons – in essence, running a brothel.

The girls are being tried as adults – one girl faces thirteen felony counts and the other girl faces four felony counts. The grandma of one of the girls (the one facing four counts) is stunned that they are being tried as adults. Personally, I’m not surprised that they are being tried as adults. This was not some childish prank or someone unable to control their childish anger. There was a level of sophistication that you do not typically see in juvenile cases.

There are a lot of disturbing angles to this story. I’ll touch on just a few.

The girls that were recruited
These girls recruited 14 to 17 year old girls with the promise of lots of cash. They claimed that it would be a better environment for the girls, since they wouldn’t beat them up like a male pimp might.

Did any of these girls stop to think for a minute and realize that they were placing their lives in the hands of 16 year olds? Teenagers aren’t always known for having the best judgment. Who knows that sort of guys the prostitutes were being set up with. Then, of course, are the obvious dangers of STDs. Teenagers also occasionally overreact to perceived slights. What if one of the prostitutes has unknowingly insulted one of the girls – would they have intentionally put her into a dangerous situation?

These girls should have seen lots of red flags.

The customers
Granted, we’re not talking about model citizens here. And perhaps the 14 year olds really looked like they were 18. But at some point, people were finding out about this brothel by word of mouth, and this word of mouth likely originated at the high school. It’s possible that all of the customers were high school kids, but it seems likely that some older men were involved. Apparently, some of the kids who were spreading the news thought it would be a good idea to create a situation where the men would be committing statutory rape (note: the article does not mention anyone being charged with statutory rape). These men might want to reevaluate the people who are giving them advice.

The families
How did everyone overlook the warning signs that something odd was going on? At the very least, they were probably spending considerably more money than they had in the past . The one girl was staying with her grandma after leaving her mom’s house – perhaps this caused things to slip through the cracks a bit.

The school administrators
They were actively recruiting girls and the school administrators didn’t hear any gossip about this? At some point, you would think that a girl would have rebuffed their offer and reported it to the authorities.

The landlord
These girls rented an apartment to use as their brothel. How, exactly, do two 16 year olds rent an apartment? I would think that their credit history (or lack thereof) would have raised some red flags. Perhaps they paid an older friend to rent the apartment for them. In this case, that “friend” should have been curious why they wanted to rent the apartment. Did they pay with cash every month? Again, this should have raised a red flag. Complaints from neighbors about strange men coming and going at all times of the night? Red flag.

Tax issues
Taxes are probably the least of their worries right now. However, income from illegal sources is fully taxable. If they don’t claim the income on their tax return, the IRS might also take a swing at them. Additionally, there is the question of whether or not the girls they recruited were independent contractors or employees. Does the fact that a brothel was used (as opposed to having the girls find their own accommodations) tip the scales toward employee? In that case, they would have been responsible for withholding income tax and FICA.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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