The names of all victims and their relatives have been changed. Quotes from Dennis Paris, Gwen, and Alicia are taken from court testimony.
“He called me a stupid bitch … a worthless piece of shit.… I had to tell people I fell off stage because I had so many bruises on my ribs face and legs.… I have a permanent twitch in my eye from him hitting me in my face so much. I have none of my irreplaceable things from my youth.”
—From the victim-impact statement of Felicia, minor prostitute-stripper enslaved by trafficker Corey Davis.
“Prostitution is renting an organ for ten minutes.”
—A john, interviewed by research psychologist Melissa Farley.
“Would you please write down the type of person you think I am, given all that you’ve heard and read?… I’ve been called the worst of the worst by the government and it’s going to be hard for you to top that.”
—Letter postmarked June 27, 2008, to Amy Fine Collins, from Dennis Paris, a.k.a. “Rahmyti,” then inmate at the Wyatt Detention Facility, in Central Falls, Rhode Island, now at a high-security federal penitentiary in Arizona.
The Little Barbies
I n the Sex Crimes Bureau of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, in the pediatric division of Fort Bragg’s Womack Army Medical Center, in the back alleys of Waterbury, Connecticut, and in the hallways of Hartford’s Community Court, Assistant D.A. Rhonnie Jaus, forensic pediatrician Dr. Sharon Cooper, ex-streetwalker Louise, and Judge Curtissa Cofield have all simultaneously and independently noted the same disturbing phenomenon. There are more young American girls entering the commercial sex industry—an estimated 300,000 at this moment—and their ages have been dropping drastically. “The average starting age for prostitution is now 13,” says Rachel Lloyd, executive director of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services ( gems ), a Harlem-based organization that rescues young women from “the life.” Says Judge Cofield, who formerly presided over Hartford’s Prostitution Protocol, a court-ordered rehabilitation program, “I call them the Little Barbies.”
The explanations offered for these downwardly expanding demographics are various, and not at all mutually exclusive. Dr. Sharon Cooper believes that the anti-intellectual, consumerist, hyper-violent, and super-eroticized content of movies ( Hustle & Flow ), reality TV ( Cathouse ), video games ( Grand Theft Auto: Vice City ), gangsta rap (Nelly’s “Tip Drill”), and cyber sites (Second Life: Jail Bait) has normalized sexual harm. “History is repeating itself, and we’re back to treating women and children as chattel,” she says. “It’s a sexually toxic era of ‘pimpfantwear’ for your newborn son and thongs for your five-year-old daughter.” Additionally, Cooper cites the breakdown of the family unit (statistically, absent or abusive parents compounds risk) and the emergence of vast cyber-communities of like-minded deviant individuals, who no longer have disincentives to act on their most destructive predatory fantasies. Krishna Patel, assistant U.S. attorney in Bridgeport, Connecticut, invokes the easy money. Criminals have learned, often in prison—where “macking” memoirs such as Iceberg Slim’s Pimp are best-sellers—that it’s become more lucrative and much safer to sell malleable teens than drugs or guns. A pound of heroin or an AK-47 can be retailed once, but a young girl can be sold 10 to 15 times a day—and a “righteous” pimp confiscates 100 percent of her earnings.