Missing teen was sex trafficked to dozens after meeting man on dating app, US feds say

The 16-year-old said she had met Brown on the dating app 3Fun. — Image by Freepik

A 16-year-old girl missing from her Indiana home for several months was being sex trafficked by a man she met on a dating app, US federal authorities say.

The Evansville, Indiana, girl and her friend from Greenwood, Indiana, were found at the man’s Ohio house in October, court documents show. The 26-year-old man, identified as Payton Jamar Brown, now faces federal charges of sex trafficking of minors and sexually exploiting children, according to the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Brown is expected to plead not guilty, his attorney told The Cincinnati Enquirer.

During an interview with investigators in November, the 16-year-old said she had met Brown on the dating app 3Fun. He took her to Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio, and they began a sexual relationship after she said she did not want to return to her home, federal authorities said.

She said at one point Brown “cheated on” her. To retaliate, she sent Facebook messages asking for a ride away from his home in exchange for marijuana that Brown had been growing, according to the complaint.

A Facebook user agreed to the arrangement, but the driver left with five pounds of marijuana before the 16-year-old could get in the car, prosecutors say. Brown told the girl he was not angry and offered a way for him to pay her back.

“He told her the marijuana that was taken was around US$3,000, and because he was out money, he asked if she would be willing to go on ‘dates’ with men for money,” according to the complaint.

She agreed, and naked photos of the 16-year-old were put on an escort website, investigators said.

From July to October, the 16-year-old had sex with about 45 men for money, she told authorities. Some of the sexual encounters were filmed, and she used SnapChat to sell the pictures and video, according to prosecutors.

What she described as “the worst part,” prosecutors said, was traveling with one of the men to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.

“You gotta do it, it’s US$2,000,” Brown told the girl, according to the complaint.

Another man wanted her to be his “sugar baby”, according to the complaint.

She later asked Brown if they could pick up one of her friends in Indianapolis. After picking up the other 16-year-old and returning to Brown’s home in Ohio, the girls were safely recovered by officers with the Colerain Police Department, prosecutors said.

It’s unclear if the second girl was also being trafficked.

Brown was arrested Friday, Feb 24, in Cincinnati, court records show. – The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service

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