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Dallas DA fails to prosecute suspected sex trafficker, sparking questions

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The Dallas County District Attorney's Office is being questioned over its failure to prosecute a man accused of trafficking a girl out of a Texas stadium in April 2022.

The girl was taken from a Dallas Mavericks game and trafficked for sex. Now, her mother and Attorney General Ken Paxton are reviewing a case in which Dallas County District Attorney John Clouzot failed to prosecute a suspect who was caught on video removing the victim from a game. American Airlines Center.

The victim, who was 15 years old at the time, was attending an NBA game with his father and as he got up to go to the bathroom, he met Emmanuel Jose Cartagena and walked out of the arena with him. Police previously announced that the incident was caught on surveillance camera.

Police said Cartagena then took the boy to an “unknown house” in Dallas, where he sexually assaulted him.

Emmanuel Jose Cartagena was arrested on January 26, 2023 on a felony warrant for the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl. (FOX 4 Dallas/Getty Images)

What is human trafficking?

The family's attorney, Zeke Fortenberry, said in a statement in November that Cartagena was “a known person who was forced into prostitution and then taken to Oklahoma City, where she was trafficked, forced into prostitution, and repeatedly engaged in prostitution.” “She was a prostitute.” To have sex in a hotel. ” Cartagena was convicted in 2016 of a case in which she promoted prostitution for persons under the age of 18.

The victim was tracked to an Extended Stay America hotel in Oklahoma City on April 18, 10 days after a private investigator found him searching for online ads, according to news outlet Texas Scorecard. That's what it means.

In May of that year, the Oklahoma City Police Department arrested eight people in connection with the case on charges ranging from rape to prostitution, human trafficking, and offering to distribute child pornography.

However, although Cartagena was arrested in connection with the scheme in January 2023, he was never charged.

In October, a Dallas County grand jury decided not to indict him for child sexual assault because jurors did not find enough evidence to indict him on child sexual assault charges.

“I was shocked,” the girl's mother told Texas Scorecard. She said Dallas police and prosecutors made several mistakes throughout the case.

The mother says police classify missing older teens as “runaways,” even if they are under the age of consent, so police initially thought her husband had filed a missing persons report. He reportedly refused to do so.

Photos of eight people involved in the sex trafficking of 15-year-old girls.

Oklahoma City Police arrested Saniyah Alexander, Melissa Wheeler, Chevan Gibson, Kenneth Nelson, Sarah Hayes, Karen Gonzalez, Talia Gibson, and Stephen Hill in connection with the human trafficking case. (Oklahoma City Detention Center)

Biden administration vows to crack down on human trafficking

He also directed the family to call local police in North Richland Hills, about 30 miles from the scene of their daughter's disappearance.

“It's a huge problem,” she told Texas Scorecard, noting that the family had to hire a private investigator to track down their daughter.

She also said Dara city officials declined an invitation from Oklahoma authorities to come gather information that could help the investigation after her daughter was found.

She also told the outlet that she chose Cartagena from among the candidates because her daughter was too young to consent to sex, but the grand jury still sided with Cartagena. A grand jury ultimately found Cartagena “no charge,” meaning the jury had not seen enough evidence to indict Cartagena.

After the grand jury released Cartagena, Fortenberry highlighted several flaws that Clouzot and his team made in the case.

The lawyer said in a statement that it took more than seven months for the prosecutor's office to interview the victim after Cartagena's arrest, and that prosecutors did not discuss the facts of the case.

Fortenberry said he offered to provide Assistant District Attorney Summer Elmazi with medical and treatment records that could supplement the case, but she declined.

57% of U.S. human trafficking victims were minors in 2021 federal prosecutions: report

The lawyer also said that although the girl was willing to participate, she had not been subjected to a forensic investigation into the Dallas incident, and urged Elmazi to consider human trafficking charges against Cartagena. said he refused.

On Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton shared a Texas Scorecard article about X, writing, “This is unacceptable and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Ken Paxton on the podium

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Fortenberry said the girl's parents met with Clouzot after the no-charge decision and provided therapy notes, but Clouzot declined to pursue the case further.

“Despite the lack of a complete investigation and new evidence to support the human trafficking charges, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office has notified parents that it believes the case is closed,” the November statement said. ” is stated.

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Clouzot told Fox News Digital in a statement that his office met with the family to hear their concerns after the decision was made.

“Since that meeting, our office has reviewed all of the evidence presented to the grand jury and believes that all possible criminal charges have been presented,” Clouzot wrote.

“By law, grand juries deliberate in secret. Per agency policy, we have not made a recommendation to the grand jury and we respect the grand jury's decision.”

Fox News Digital has also reached out to the Dallas Police Department for comment.

Meanwhile, the girl's mother is trying to raise awareness about the case and the thousands of human trafficking victims. A 2016 University of Texas study found that 79,000 minors in Texas were victims of sex trafficking.

The girl's mother told Texas Scorecard, “Without God's goodness, we would not have had our daughter. We are lucky. She is safe.” “But we are not normal. What about the other victims?”

FOX News' Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.

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