The Florida 15-year-old girl who had sex with multiple boys, a group that reportedly included members of the South Fort Myers football team, was a victim of human trafficking and held captive for two years, her family says.
In an effort to tell her side of the story, a family spokeswoman spoke with NBC station WBBH to share the girl’s tragic history.
Sixteen students were disciplined in the incident, the Lee County school district told Gannett partner the Fort Myers News-Press. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is checking into the cellphone video taken of the incident and the Florida Department of Children and Families is also involved in the case, spokeswoman Natalie Harrell confirmed.
Megan Estrem, founder and CEO of Be the Light — an advocacy group for victims of sex slavery — said the girl’s mother brought her to Estrem after her having saved her from her captor. She was placed in multiple treatment programs in an effort to help.
“She was only 13 when she was trafficked,” said Estrem. “She did get some help, but it wasn’t specific for what she needed.”
The girl had only been at the school for two weeks, her mother told the TV station. She went to the bathroom to meet a boy she had a crush on and had sex with him. Word spread and other boys showed up.
“She did not sleep with 25 boys in the bathroom. There was only a handful that she did sleep with. In this case, it was more of a spectator sport,” said Estrem. “She has been in an environment where she has been told to behave a certain way, and there were severe consequences if she didn’t.”
The girl has been removed from the school by her mother, who is trying to protect her from the firestorm that has erupted in the aftermath of the incident.
“What happens is not to go straight to shaming and sharing this, but find out there all facts, what happened, why did she do this, who else was involved and what was their role. She needs to be prayed for and encouraged, not degraded and discouraged,” said Estrem.