Reality of Sex Trafficking in the US: Corinna Slusser Missing
Corinna Slusser, 19, was last seen at the Haven Motel in Queens, New York the morning of September 20, 2017. New York Police Department (NYPD) fears she was kidnapped by a sex trafficking ring and friends and family fear the worst.
According to relatives, in early 2017, Slusser had dropped out of her Bloomsburg, Penn., high school and moved to New York City with a 32-year old man she had hoped was giving her a “fresh start.”
According to Marnie O’Neill’s article “Missing teen feared kidnapped by sex-trafficking ring left a cryptic Instagram clue,” Slusser’s aunt Julie Anne Becker-Calfa told Dateline, “She wanted out of this small town and this guy gave her that out.”
Police instead suspect the man, turned “pimp,” lured her into a prostitution.
Court documents revealed on August 25, 2017, police had responded to a 911 call at 1:15 am at the Harlem Vista Hotel and found Slusser “crying and shaking.” She told officers her pimp had stolen $300 from her while she was in the shower. He then began strangling her when she confronted him, then slamming her against the wall, making it hard for her to breathe.
The pimp, whose name has been withheld by police, was arrested and held on a $1000 bond.
The court issued a temporary “order of protection” to Slusser and a copy mailed to the address she listed on file at her mother’s home back in Penn.
Slusser’s mother Sabina Tuorto opened the mail to find a copy of the order several days later, and fearfully called her daughter to ask what was going on but Slusser told her mother not to worry.
When Slusser did not show up at her grandfather’s funeral in Fla., her family reported her missing on September 12th.
On September 20th, an anonymous individual called the NYPD and told them Slusser had been seen leaving a hotel in Queens that has been confirmed by police, but she has not been seen since, elevating concerns of family and police.
Mysterious Instagram Post
On September 10th, Slusser posted a puzzling message and mysterious photograph on Instagram featuring a young woman wearing a black baseball cap and smoking a joint in the middle of heavy traffic on a city street. It was her last post since she was reported missing.
She tagged the picture “The Bronx” but friends and family both have said the picture looks like it was taken somewhere in South America rather than New York.
NYPD’s Vice Human Trafficking Team fear Slusser has been kidnapped by a sex-trafficking ring and passed to different pimps since her disappearance and subject of a desperate search. Investigators suspect sex-traffickers kidnapped Slusser after she reported her pimp to police, a rule not to be broken in the underground world of sex-trafficking.
Prior to her disappearance, a cheerleader and popular student in high school with future dreams of becoming a makeup artist, Slusser suddenly moved out of her mother’s home at age 17 and dropped out of school.
While staying at a friend’s home near her mother, Slosser began suffering from depression and attempted suicide. While recovering in the hospital, she met the man who lured her to New York in March.
From High School to Possible Call Girl
According to an interview with Oxygen, “Corinna Slusser’s Aunt Believes She Was a ‘Call Girl’ Who Was Killed or Abducted After Attempting to Go Home” Becky’s aunt told them she fears her niece was abducted or murdered after trying to return home.
While in New York Slusser sent home photographs of her new apartment in the Bronx telling family she was working “customer service” on weekends.
According to Slusser’s aunt Becker-Calfa, Slusser’s social media posts were becoming more provocative and inappropriate.
She told Oxygen “People have come forward saying she was boasting that she was making a lot of money doing things called dinner dates but saying there was no sex involved – that was when she first moved out there – and that meant they were just paying to take her to dinner. [Police] believe that escalated into actually being a call girl. She was still being treated well and apparently was able to get her own apartment. When she wanted to go home the next day, that was when they believe she was abducted.”
On October 10th, Slusser’s mother posted a plea on Facebook, “My daughter was a great student, a cheerleader. She had many friends and lived her life as a normal teenager. I need her home and I can’t bear any more days like this, I fear the worst, but I pray for the best and her return home.”
NY Daily News “Missing teen sex trafficking victim has likely been passed between pimps and sent out of New York,” reports police suspect Slusser is no longer in New York citing they feared she had been moved from her home-base in Harlem or killed after filing assault charges.
A source told Daily News, “There is no indication she is subject to foul play,” but added that nothing is certain. Slusser’s name has come up in several vice investigations giving some hope she is still out there.
As an avid social media user, there have been no posts from Slusser since September 2017.
The toll of human and sex trafficking
Human trafficking is defined as the exchange of money for services that have been obtained by force, fraud or coercion. There is little to no difference is the definition of sex trafficking.
Thomas Lauth, CEO of Lauth Investigations International, has worked missing persons, human and sex-trafficking cases for over twenty years. “Human trafficking is a hidden crime because victims are often afraid to come forward,” said Lauth. “They fear the wrath of the traffickers and may also fear law enforcement.”
A sex-trafficking victim profiled in a BBC report “Shandra Woworuntu: My life as a sex trafficking victim,” had arrived in the U.S. hoping to start a new career in the hotel industry. Instead, she was trafficked into prostitution, sexual slavery, forced drug-ingestion and extreme violence.
“Customer service is the key to this job, I was told, said Woworuntu. A graduate of finance, she passed the tests for employment and accepted the job working in the U.S. for $5,000 per month.
“I arrived at JFK airport with four other women and a man and we were divided into two groups. Johnny took all my documents, including my passport, and led me to his car with two other women,” said Woworuntu.
The driver proceeded to take her to another driver, they exchanged money and demanded they switch cars. This happened three more times. They were taken to a house where they were and exchanged yet again to a driver with a gun.
“After just a few hours in the U.S. I was forced to have sex,” Woworuntu said. “I did what I was told.”
The traffickers who participated in Woworuntu’s kidnapping were American, Indonesian, Taiwanese, and Malaysian Chinese. One man even had a police badge though she does not know to this day if he was really an official.
She was then taken up and down I-95, to various brothels, apartment buildings, hotels and casinos on the East coast. Woworuntu said, “I was rarely in the same place, and I never knew where I was going.”
The traffickers made her take drugs like meth, cocaine, and weed at gunpoint, along with alcohol. Some customers were violent, white guys, black guys, Hispanics guys, old men and even university students.
The traffickers had told Woworuntu she had to pay back $30,000 before freedom would granted. That meant she would have to serve 300 men at least. She felt hopeless.
With all the strength she could muster Woworuntu found an opportunity to escape. She went to police, the Indonesian consulate but received no help. She found herself sleeping on the Staten Island Ferry, the NYC Subway and Times Square when a man listened to her story and called the FBI.
Eventually, “Johnny” and others were arrested due to Woworuntu’s testimony. Several other women freed because of Woworuntu’s courage.
The rest of the story is now history and Woworuntu is a success story. “The FBI connected me with Safe Horizon, an organization in New York that helps victims of crime and abuse, including survivors of human trafficking,” said Woworuntu.
The group helped her get housing and secure a job. For her cooperation with the FBI, she was granted permanent residency.
Now, 17 years later, Woworuntu now runs Mentari, a Human Trafficking Survivor, and Empowerment program.