MANKATO — A sex trafficking case that evolved from a string of prostitution complaints and a false robbery report in Mankato has drawn attention to something that’s become an important cause for Susan Meyers.
Meyers and other members of Elevate Church spent hours out in the cold earlier this month raising awareness about sexual slavery. They surprised those who would listen with statistics that ranked Minnesota at 13 for the nation’s top child sex trafficking centers and said an average of 45 girls are sold for sex in Minnesota on any weekend night.
So Meyers wasn’t surprised to hear a brother and sister from Milwaukee were arrested Sunday and charged Tuesday with forcing a woman to work as a prostitute in Mankato. Police had more than one run-in with the siblings and the woman at various Mankato hotels before a would-be John called 911 to falsely report an alleged sex deal gone bad as a robbery.
“We know from personal research that it goes on here and comes through this area,” Meyers said. “When this happens it’s a bright light to people. We’re not just telling you it happens, it’s in the news. It’s out there for people to see.”
Meyers is hoping to educate people about sex trafficking in Minnesota because she wants Mankato area residents to know it happens here. One specific group she wants to hear the message is the men who are potential customers.
Those men often don’t realize the females they are dealing with could be under the age of 18, or older and long-term victims of someone who has been abusing them for years, Meyers said. They also aren’t aware of the extent of the abuse or the fact that the women, or girls, they are dealing with have no desire to be a prostitute and aren’t benefiting in any way.