Social media messages common tactic in recruiting teen prostitutes
PORTLAND, Ore. - A former competitive cheerleader from Lake Oswego, who is facing federal charges for getting her teenage friend to become a prostitute, is also accused of using a common tactic to recruit her - a message on social media.
Julia Lynn Haner, 19, is accused of the sex trafficking of a minor and the transportation of a minor for prostitution. Konrod Steven Mason, 30, who police say was her pimp, faces the same charges. Both have pleaded not guilty.
According to court documents, Haner reached out to a 17-year-old girl through Facebook because Haner was "lonely working as a prostitute by herself."
Pimps often convince girls to recruit more girls. According to the U.S. attorney's office, they use social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
"It doesn't look as dangerous of a lifestyle if one of your teenage girlfriends is asking you to join her, it doesn't look dangerous but it is dangerous," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie Beckerman. "We see simple texts and emails like, 'Do you want to make some money?' Or they'll show pictures of cash or luxury goods."
Haner's former cheerleading coach, Terrie Sheik, is heartbroken to hear one of the girl's she's worked with is now in jail.
"She was in a really good place here, a really good place, so I was surprised and very saddened," Sheik said. "Julia was a very talented athlete, a real spunky fun young girl."
Haner was with Lake Oswego Cheer in 2011 but also worked with other competitive teams in the area.
Sheik told KATU she sat down with other girls on the team Tuesday to talk about what happened.
"They were good friends with her. They took her in, and they laughed together. They spent time together. They went to camp together. I mean there's a lot of bonding at cheer squad. They feel bad and yet they seem aware," " said Sheik. " Just because we are in this nice community, it's everywhere."
Joel Shapiro, policy adviser for Shared Hope International, joins KATU's Steve Dunn in the studio to discuss sex trafficking in Portland, what makes girls a target, what parents can do to protect their children from becoming a victim in the first place and how social media makes it easier for pimps to get access to children.
Watch the interview below.