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May-17-2010 22:27printcomments

'Dan Rather Reports' Investigates Oregon's Growing Problem of Underage Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is often thought of as problem overseas, but it is actually an alarming problem here in the United States – Tuesday, May 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET

Image from Dan Rather's investigation into the growing problem of underage sex trafficking in Portland, Oregon.
Image from Dan Rather's investigation into the growing problem of underage sex trafficking in Portland, Oregon.

(DALLAS, Tx.) - Tuesday’s "Dan Rather Reports" will present an investigation into the growing problem of underage sex trafficking, with a focus on a city you might not expect: Portland, Oregon.

Portland proclaims itself as “The City of Roses,” but beneath its inviting veneer of manicured parks and eco-friendly living, the city has a dirty, dark secret – a burgeoning legal and illegal sex industry. And according to the Portland Police Bureau, Portland has become a hotbed for child sex trafficking.

“These are kids that are ten, 12, 13, 14 years-old. And-- they get paid more because they're young. And it's-- it's mind boggling to me that some man would go have sex with a 14 year-old and pay two hundred dollars because she's 14,” said Sergeant Doug Justus, who has led Portland’s Vice Detail since 2008.

Sgt. Justus has been with the Portland Police Bureau for almost three decades. “If you had told me three years ago that a 14 year-old girl would go to a food court, meet a guy, and three hours later be selling herself I'd a said, ‘No friggin' way.’ It happens every single day, every day.”

In reporting this heartbreaking story, Rather and his team travel to Oregon to interview the law enforcement officials trying to stem the tide of this rapidly growing problem and the girls they have saved.

“He told me, ‘Well, if you love me you would-- you would do a lot for me,” one young girl tells Dan Rather Reports of how her pimp got her started on having sex for money. “So, that's kind of what convinced me, I guess. I wanted to show him how much I love him.”

Sgt. Justus says the profile of girls being sold for sex in Portland has also changed dramatically. In the past it has been primarily runaways, but more and more he's seeing middle-class girls from Portland’s suburbs being forced into sexual slavery. “What we're seeing more and more nowadays, it’s the girl from Beaverton, from Tigard, from Estacada, from Vancouver, Washington,” said Sgt. Justus.

Excerpt from Dan Rather's Report

But it’s not just cities like Portland -- child prostitution persists throughout the United States.

“There are at least 100,000 American kids a year who get caught up in this insidious activity, and there are estimates far more aggressive than that--typically 100,000 to 300,000 kids a year,” said Ernie Allen, co-founder and current CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “I had a police officer say to me once that the only way not to find this problem in any community is simply not to look for it.”

“Dan Rather Reports " premieres TOMORROW on HDNet, Tuesday, May 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET with an encore at 11:00 p.m. ET.

HDNet (hd.net) is the independent network with unique and provocative content that appeals to men of all ages and is delivered in true high definition.

HDNet is the exclusive, high definition home for popular, original programming, including television's only HD news feature programs "HDNet World Report," and the Emmy Award winning "Dan Rather Reports," featuring legendary journalist Dan Rather. Only HDNet goes beyond the headlines to deliver real news that is redefining the way we look at our world. HDNet News is provocative, sometimes controversial and always relevant - telling the important stories of our time in-depth, with attitude and with independence.

Launched in 2001 by Mark Cuban and General Manager Philip Garvin, the HDNet networks are available on AT&T, Charter Communications, Comcast, DIRECTV, DISH Network, Insight, and Verizon FiOS.

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Hope Davis June 2, 2010 7:29 am (Pacific time)

Such an important story that needs to be told! For more information about sex trafficking in the United States and what you can do about it, visit www.sharedhope.org

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