Abduction-sex ring suspect tied to earlier cases

DETROIT (AP) - A man suspected of running a ring that kidnapped women and girls, then forced them into prostitution, was questioned by police at least twice over the years but released for lack of evidence.

The 32-year-old Chicago native was arrested Monday and was expected to be arraigned Thursday on criminal sexual conduct and other charges, police said.

Police arrested but later freed a 17-year-old Detroit boy because there was not enough evidence to charge him, they said.

Investigators said dozens of girls and women might have been attacked and forced into prostitution in Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago.

The man and the teenage boy were arrested after a 17-year-old Cleveland girl led officers to a home in Detroit where authorities said at least three teen-age girls had been held against their will.

The FBI is examining evidence in the case to see if there are grounds for federal charges as well, said Special Agent Dawn Clenney, a spokeswoman for the Detroit bureau.

Police raided the home Monday after the 17-year-old girl told a store security guard in nearby Highland Park that she had been kidnapped from a bus stop in Cleveland and forced to perform sex acts, Sgt. James Tolbert said.

The guard, Dorian McConnell, then called police.

The department has been investigating the alleged sex ring since reports of kidnappings began surfacing six to seven months ago, Tolbert said. He said several other girls had reported being
kidnapped, raped and forced into prostitution.

"I've never seen anything like it," sex crimes unit Officer Jose Ortiz said. "The majority of his captives were loyal to him. Some were hesitant at first, but then converted."

Detroit police first encountered the 32-year-old in 1998 when a girl jumped out of a car at a restaurant and told officers she had been raped.

Prosecutors said they lacked sufficient evidence to charge him.

In 2000, police answering a disturbance call at a motel found him with three girls ages 15, 15 and 17 and an 18-year-old woman. The 18-year-old said she had been raped. But the other teens
refused to cooperate, and he again was not charged, police said.

In the latest case, the mother of the Cleveland 17-year-old who led police to the home Monday said she had been kidnapped Jan. 9 while waiting for a bus after leaving work at a clothing store.

She said the man told her daughter: "'I'm your boss. You have no more say-so over your life. You're no longer your own person. I'm your daddy.'"

Besides the Cleveland girl, two Detroit girls, 15 and 13, were being held against their will, Cmdr. Gerard Simon said.

Tolbert said the abduction-prostitution ring apparently operated mainly in Chicago. It also may have spread to other cities in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, he said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)