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It’s the internet that has made the crime so prevalent.
In a few clicks, people can anonymously buy sex from anyone, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said.
“We do everything we can, and we work as fast as we can, but trying to get to her took time.” The hardest part, Kroshus said, is trying to stay up-to-date on victims’ locations as phone numbers and emails rotate and Backpage advertisements disappear, only to reappear in a few days.
“As we’re trying to catch up to them, we’re kind of a city behind,” he said. And in that case: “There’s nothing we can do,” Kroshus said.
An IP address, the emails associated with it and the number of Backpage listings per email, usually up to 200 or 300, are returned to Kroshus. The team once spent three weeks sifting through prepaid-phone records, fake email accounts and inconclusive social media searches to track down a 13-year-old girl.
“It’s frustrating from the law enforcement side, because they know this is going on,” Ali said.
“I can order up a human being to come to my house and sell her body to me, and then I can order a pizza — and I’ll bet the gal beats the pizza to my door,” Orput said.
Beyond Washington County, Ramsey and Hennepin counties have developed training for hotel staff to identify potential victims and have partnered with advocacy organizations to provide victim support.
Searching a child’s name on Facebook or Instagram is hit-or-miss; sometimes, Schroeder can identify the victim — and the perp — herself.
Then, she sends the case to Woodbury police Detective Paul Kroshus.
“If we can’t track them, we can’t track them.” “With limited resources, the best way I can describe what I have to do is triage,” he said.
“There’s only so many hours in a day, and so many days in a week. Even with kind of being on the early side, I’m completely inundated with a caseload that I can’t keep up with.” The Washington County Board last week accepted a 4,000 state grant that will fund a law clerk, legal assistant and project manager for the county attorney’s office.