Police say missing teen was forced into prostitution - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Police say missing teen was forced into prostitution

Erick Jermaine Banks (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office) Erick Jermaine Banks (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)

By Keitha Nelson - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A 15-year-old girl is now safe after being missing from her home for six days. While on the streets, police said she was forced into prostitution.

The man accused of selling her for sex, Erick Banks, 29, is in jail. The Baton Rouge Police Department arrested him while he tried to check out of a hotel where they say he pimped the teenage girl.

She was reported missing after she ran away from a Baton Rouge group home. Officers reported before they or her family could find her Banks did.

"I'm stunned," said the victim's mother. "I always knew there was that kind of reality in the world, but for it to be this close to home I'm shocked."

Detectives believe the teenager was held in a room at the Extended Stay America on Corporate Boulevard for at least three days. They said she had sex with men who responded to an ad placed online offering sex. Banks is accused of placing the ads and using the girl to make some money.

"My fear was that she was dead somewhere, not that it was prostitution or the selling of a child," the teen's mother explained.

She said her daughter was missing for six days. Fearful, family members plastered posters all throughout their White Castle community.

"You hear about it in movies. You hear about it in other states. You don't hear about it this close to home," the mother stated.

Police believe Banks was targeting runaways, finding them on the streets and using them for his own personal gain. They're not sure how long he's allegedly been up to these tricks, but officers warn the streets are no place for kids.

"I'm mad, very mad, but I'm also grateful she's safe. She's well and he is locked up," the teen's mom added.

The 15-year-old's mother said this should serve as a wakeup call to other teenagers. Running away is not the way to go.

If convicted, Banks could serve a maximum of 50 years for his charge of trafficking a child for sexual purposes.

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