It started with a call to Yakima police about a girl having “a juvenile problem.”
It led to the arrest of 10 men in what Yakima police described as a sex-trafficking case.
Yakima police Capt. Jay Seely said more arrests are likely, including the girl’s mother who helped her become a prostitute at age 14 to earn drug money.
Special Assault Unit detectives “put a lot of work into this so this young lady is protected,” Seely said. “They spent a lot of time on this case.”
The Yakima Herald-Republic does not name suspects until they are formally charged. The names of sex-crime victims are also not published unless the victim agrees to go public.
Police were called to an apartment for a 15-year-old girl who was experiencing opioid withdrawal, according to probable cause affidavits filed by police. She told police that her bother had got her addicted to pain killers, and she had started having sex for drug money, the affidavit said.
When her mother found out her daughter was having sex for money, the mother “wanted to make sure she did it safely,” the affidavit said, and would go with her to meet with men.
According to the affidavits, the mother would sometimes set up the appointments and the price, and drive her daughter to locations, the affidavit said. The money would go toward buying drugs and household necessities, the affidavit said.
The girl said her mother also engaged in prostitution as well, the affidavit said.
Detectives examined the girl’s cellphone and were able to identify men she had sex with, the affidavit said. In some cases, the girl had sex multiple times with the same person.
She said there was one man she had sex with, but he was not a “John,” and did not pay.
Seely said detectives spent Thursday taking the men into custody, but said they were not able to arrest the girl’s mother. He said other suspects could be arrested as well.
“I’m proud of our guys. They were working to help this young lady out,” Seely said. “They worked hard.”
During preliminary appearance hearings in the Yakima County jail, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Heather Thorn sought $100,000 bail for each of the men, citing the danger they posed to the girl and other children.
Yakima County Superior Court Judge David Elofson set bail for three, with one of them getting $100,000 bail. The other seven were released as part of the pretrial release program and were ordered to have no contact with anyone younger than 18.
One of those released was also accused of paying another girl for sexually explicit photos of herself.
Those released with required check-ins with court staff are:
• A 29-year-old Yakima man suspected of commercial sex abuse of a minor, viewing depictions of a minor engaged in sexual conduct and 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Police say he asked another teen to send him sexually explicit pictures.
• A 55-year-old Selah man suspected of four counts of commercial sex abuse of a minor.
• A 35-year-old Yakima man suspected of four counts commercial sex abuse of a minor.
• A 48-year-old Yakima man accused of four counts of commercial sex abuse of a minor.
• A 51-year-old Selah man accused of four counts of commercial sex abuse of a minor.
• A 57-year-old Yakima man accused of three counts of commercial sex abuse of a minor.
• A 77-year-old Zillah man accused of six counts of commercial sex abuse of a minor and one count of third-degree child molestation.
Elofson ordered the following held in lieu of bail.
• A 38-year-old Selah man suspected of third-degree child rape. His bail was set at $20,000.
• A 36-year-old Yakima man accused of sexual abuse of a minor. He is being held on $25,000 bail in connection with that case and a fugitive warrant in an unrelated case out of Oregon.
• A 37-year-old Yakima man accused of five counts of commercial sex abuse of a minor, five counts of child rape, communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and distributing drugs to a person under 18. His bail was set at $100,000.