The battle against sex trafficking in the United States cannot be won without people just like you.
Read Madison’s story to find out why.
Madison is a beautiful 16-year-old girl, full of life and a smile that can light up any room. She has two involved parents that have provided everything she could ever want but who have established the rules and boundaries that most teens her age push against. Madison is bright, top of her class in English and Math. She is reliable and is often used by her friends as a good sounding board for navigating the latest issue life has thrown at them.
Her nightmare started on what seemed to be a typical warm summer night last year. She and her two closest friends had just finished eating fro yo at their favorite spot. They were sitting in the quaint, little downtown area of her Pacific North West beach town; the girls were dreaming of what it would be like to live in a big city. They were dreaming of what adventures they would have after their upcoming senior year was completed. Madison had her eyes on attending UCLA and couldn’t wait to leave her small town and dive headfirst into everything the big city of LA had to offer her.
ASSESSMENT AND RECRUITMENT
“Wow, you ladies are stunning!” Was what he said as he sat himself down next to them without asking. Madison had never really dated and instantly felt her cheeks go red hot as she dodged his eye contact. It was in this moment that he picked her as his next target. He knew because this wasn’t the first time he’d done this before.
He introduced himself as Rocco, he was handsome, funny and she quickly felt comfortable in his presence. He said he was on summer break from college and was just in town for a few days surfing with his friends. He asked for her number before he took off and she didn’t think twice about giving it to him. As he left, her and her friends started giggling, she had a stomach full of butterflies. Maybe the adventure she was dreaming of was becoming a reality.
Her phone lit up, it was Rocco, he wanted to meet at the beach, he’d bring coffee. She agreed before really contemplating how she was going to get past her parents. She loved them but they asked a lot of questions each time she left the house, typical protective type. Few little lies and she was out the door. She felt a little twinge of guilt but the thrill of seeing Rocco again was worth it and in her mind, she was old enough now to make her own decisions.
There he was, sitting watching the waves, waiting for her. It took roughly the remainder of that day for his smooth words and quick wit to make Madison feel like she was a princess… his princess. They walked the beach, he bought her lunch, he broke out his camera, explaining that photography was his side hobby at school, as he snapped a few images of her. He called her beautiful, listened intently as she shared her life’s dreams and then he kissed her softly.
The next morning another text woke her up. This time Rocco proposed an adventure… her heart started skipping with excitement. He wanted her to go to a concert with him and a few of his friends, it was a few hours away and she’d be gone overnight. She thought up a plan and told her parents she was staying with friends. Not unusual so her parents didn’t give it a second thought, Madison’s friends agreed to cover for her. She packed a small bag and left the house promising to check in with her parents later in the evening.
As they drove further and further away from her small safe town, she felt a rush of thrill and pure joy flood her body. This was exactly the type of thing she had been dreaming about. It wasn’t until they had been in the car for more than a few hours that she asked Rocco a few more questions. He had been on his phone a lot more today than yesterday, she hadn’t thought much about it until now.
He reassured her they were almost there, shortly after they pulled into a hotel parking lot. They wanted to pre-game a little bit before the show he said as he handed her a shot. Not wanting to remind him how young she was she choked it down. A few more shots and things started to get fuzzy and that safe floating feeling quickly turned into full blown panic. She could feel them touching her, removing her clothes, their hands all over her young, innocent body. It seemed like hours as they each took a turn with her, she tried to scream but she couldn’t manage to get any sound out. Then things went black.
As she woke up the next morning her body ached, her head was spinning, and she thought she was going to vomit. She was still in the hotel, Rocco was there. He told her to get up and get in the shower they had to leave soon. His voice was no longer sweet, he sounded much rougher. As the water ran over her, she sobbed as flashes of the night before began flooding her mind.
As she got dressed and gathered her things, she couldn’t find her phone. He came back into the room telling her to hurry up, he had her phone in his hand. She saw a text from her mom come in, she reached for it and he said, don’t worry I checked in for you. He what?! He was texting her mom. She was going to be in so much trouble when she got home.
As they got back into the car and back onto the freeway, she felt like they were headed in the wrong direction. It was then that Rocco explained to her more about what had happened the night before, he showed her the pictures of her he’d taken on his phone. He told her that if she didn’t want him to text these pictures to her mom, she was going to have to do what he said.
She felt like she was going to be sick. What was he going to have her do, it couldn’t be worse than last night right? A few hours later she found out exactly what he meant. He told her to go in there and show the gentleman a good time and not to cry or else. It took everything in her not to, but she absolutely did not want those horrible images sent to her parents, they would never forgive her.
As the “dates” (as he called them) continued to wander through the door of the new hotel room, she did her best to just survive each one, there couldn’t be that many more before he’d take her home right? She passed out from exhaustion before she got her answer.
MEANWHILE BACK HOME
Jenny, Madison’s mom, was growing more and more worried about her daughter. Madison had checked in, but the texts didn’t quite sound like her. Her husband reassured her she was probably just having fun with her friends and was fine. The next morning when she hadn’t heard from her, she tried calling… it went straight to voicemail.
Jenny couldn’t stand it, she called Madison’s friend and asked to speak with her. After a bit of back and forth and a stern warning from Jenny, Madison’s friend spilled the whole story. Jenny started crying realizing she had no idea where her daughter was and feeling in her gut that something was deeply wrong.
Jenny composed herself and called the local police department.
Detective Johnson was assigned to her case and quickly began speaking with Madison’s friends and learning more about this stranger that had swept Madison off her feet. He realized that he needed to focus on interviews here but had a sneaking suspicion that Madison wasn’t going to be found in town. Things in their quiet town had been a bit busy for the police department lately and they were severely understaffed. Luckily, he had heard of this group at his last detective training that may be able to help him investigate it.
A few phone calls and an e-mail or two later Detective Johnson was able to pass Madison’s story, phone number and picture over to Guardian Group. He knew that he could focus on what he needed to do here in town while the team over at Guardian Group would be scouring the internet for any sign of Madison.
This team of veterans were able to stop what they were doing and devote their time to supporting this resource constrained detective in the time sensitive search for Madison. After a few hours they realized his hunch had been correct, Madison was no longer in her home-town. She was spotted on a popular escort site and being sold for sex in a town about 6 hours away.
Rocco had used those innocent sweet images he had taken of her on their first date at the beach and listed her for sale as an 18-year-old under the name of Destiny.
Guardian Group quickly informed the detective of their findings and informed the police department of where the ad was posted. The two detectives moved quickly and texted the number Rocco had listed acting like they were interested in a date with Destiny.
After some back and forth the details of their date with Destiny was set and the local police officers rallied a team to set up around the hotel. Once in the hotel room the cop simply looked at a shell of the sweet, innocent girl and said, “Madison, are you ready to go home?”
BECOME A GUARDIAN
Law enforcement in every town is resource constrained, rarely would you find someone willing to argue that they are not over worked and overwhelmed. By becoming a monthly supporter of Guardian Group, you help create a reliable and sustainable system for cops, just like Detective Johnson, to use the expertise of our team to assist them in cases like Madison’s.
Monthly support allows the team to focus on the rescue of girls like Madison and enabling law enforcement to have the best case against predators like Rocco. It takes away the unpredictability that exists in the non-profit sector as donations fluctuate. The Guardians program is the lifeblood of the team and is vital to our growth and impact on this crime.
Will you consider joining us in this fight by donating monthly? Together we can stop the Rocco’s of the world and prevent other families from suffering this cruel reality.
*Disclaimer: Madison’s story is a combination of multiple survivors stories.