OHIO COUNTY, Ky (WEHT) – Kentucky State Police arrested a Beaver Dam man on Tuesday after they say he sold his juvenile daughter.
According to KSP, troopers and social services launched an investigation in November after learning the man’s daughter gave birth in March. Troopers say the man sold his daughter to Lucas Mateo, 20, of Beaver Dam, in August of 2020 and the juvenile has been residing with Mateo since then.
The juvenile’s father was charged with human trafficking and Mateo was charged with rape. Eyewitness News is not identifying the father of the juvenile to protect her identity.
Kentucky State Police say this is an ongoing investigation.
Kentucky State Police say their investigation started after they learned that a juvenile girl that gave birth to a baby earlier this year. They add this case is highlighting the issue of human trafficking.
“Many times we have preached that technology is the number one driver to a lot of these predatory type crimes, but when it involves parents, that really hits home to me as a father myself,” said Trooper Corey King of Kentucky State Police. He says the juvenile girl was sold to him by her father in August of last year for several thousand dollars. He also says the case shows that human trafficking and sex trafficking can happen anywhere and even involve parents.
“I think really, that should wake up a lot of people in this community,” he said.
“It happens all over the United States. It happens here,” says Samantha Sigler of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Green River District. She adds the number of human trafficking and child exploitation cases in the seven counties they cover reported to their agency went from five in fiscal year 2020 to 13 this past fiscal year. Sigler says Kentucky is a mandated reporter state in human trafficking cases.
KSP identified the following signs of human trafficking:
- A victim may show signs of physical or mental abuse.
- A victim may not have control over their own money, ID or personal possessions.
- A victim may not be able to speak on their own behalf or unable to leave on their own.
- A victim may appear to be fearful or submissive.
- A victim may not know what city or state they are in or where they are living.
- A victim may work excessively long hours.
- Victims can be found in restaurants, farming, massage parlors and soliciting at hotels, parking lots or house to house.
Sigler warns not all victims have the same signs.
“Because trauma affects us all differently, we all respond to a situation differently. There’s many factors that play in to that,” Sigler says.
If you suspect someone may be involved in human trafficking or a victim of human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 (TTY: 711) or text 233733. You can learn more at the National Human Trafficking Hotline website. The website features a “Quick Exit” button to leave the site instantly if necessary.