CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - With the Republication National Convention coming to Cleveland, a new light has been shed on a dark problem in the city -- human sex trafficking.
More than 1,100 Ohio children become victims of sex slavery each year. Events like the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and Republican National Convention are big money making opportunities for those looking to sell sex.
"Any time you get a large body of people together that have a lot of money, there's drinking and alcohol, a lot of parties, it's guaranteed sex will come into play," says Renee Jones of the Renee Jones Empowerment Center on West 65th Street in Cleveland.
Jones has been counseling victims of sex trafficking for 14 years. She's seen victims as young as 9 years old.
One of the survivors she counsels now is Rachel. At age 16, she was lured from her home and her parents by a man posing as an attorney and promising her a life of love and riches. Instead she was taken to the streets and forced to have sex with paying customers. Her pimp would beat her and threaten her if she tried to escape. Rachel says she knows firsthand what happens behind the scenes during events like the Republican National Convention.
"The RNC is money. When I would go into different states and stuff like that would happen, that was money," she said.
Local law enforcement, outreach groups and volunteers are preparing for the convention. They say education and awareness is key.
See the full story on Cleveland 19 News Tuesday at 11 p.m.
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