A Kent man was charged last week with sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl who has developmental delays, the U.S. Attorney’s Western Washington Office said in a statement Monday.
Al-Penyo Brooks, 26, allegedly started messaging the girl via Facebook in May, according to the statement. Because she had expressed interest in music and songwriting, Brooks told her he could help promote her in the music industry, the statement said. The girl, who lives in Spanaway, has the developmental age of a 12-year-old, the charges said.
Their Facebook conversation began May 13, with a discussion about their shared interest in music, according to the federal complaint. At one point, when Brooks asked the girl how old she was, she told him she was 17 and gave him her birth date.
After the girl told Brooks she “felt abused at home,” the charges said, he suggested she run away with him, saying he could help her make money. He later told her he was a hustler and wanted to take her to places where she could earn money through prostitution, according to the charges.
The two continued messaging for several hours, and later that day Brooks made plans to help the girl evade her guardian and pick her up near her home, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
After he picked her up, Brooks took the girl to another house, where someone helped her style her hair and change her clothes, the girl told Seattle police detectives during an interview several weeks later. Brooks then told her he was going to take her to Aurora Avenue North in Seattle — a “notorious highway frequented and used for prostitution,” according to the complaint — where she would work as a prostitute and expect to earn $1,000 a day.
The girl later told police she had made it clear to Brooks that she didn’t want to go into prostitution, but he ignored her, the charges said. The two also didn’t discuss how much of the money she earned she would be able to keep, she told police.
At some point that day, the charges said, Brooks gave her marijuana and alcohol, then had sex with her.
The next day, on May 14, the two began messaging again. According to a Seattle police detective, Brooks appeared to be frustrated that the girl hadn’t made any money the day prior.
Later that day, while the girl was still on Aurora Avenue, a man pulled his car up next to her. He told her to get in the car, and he drove her to his home, allowed her to shower and gave her something to eat. A few hours later, he had sex with her, the charges said. The girl told police the man hadn’t paid her for sex, though he gave her some money afterward. She said she “was not sure what the money was for,” the charges said.
On May 15, Seattle police and Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies, who had started searching for the girl when her guardian reported her missing, tracked her to a North Seattle apartment, from where she had most recently signed into Facebook.
When officers contacted the man who had picked her up on Aurora Avenue, he eventually took her to meet them a few blocks away from his apartment.
Brooks made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court on Friday, and is scheduled to next appear on Wednesday for a detention hearing.