Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Men charged with forcing teen into prostitution


SEATTLE - Two men pleaded not guilty today to charges they forced a 14-year-old girl into prostitution.

Police believe they did it by threatening to kill the girl and her family.

Yonatan Ogube and Samuel Rezene are accused of driving the teen to Aurora Avenue, where she says she was forced to have sex with strangers.

"And he threatened her both with her own life, and that he would also kill her family if she didn't comply," said Lisa O'Toole, prosecutor.

The victim also told police the men approached her about two weeks later as she walked in Holly Park, grabbed her by the hair and tried to drag her into their Cadillac a second time, but that she managed to get away. That night she told her father, who called police.

According to charging documents, the day after the victim gave her statement to police, they found the white Cadillac she'd described. Later, on a search warrant, they found a loaded handgun inside.

Friends of the two suspects say the charges aren't fair. They claim the young girl wasn't forced, and that race may be an issue since she is white.

"They were probably just playing around just to see like how far she'll go," said Sonny Mensure, the defendant's cousin. "And then she probably got scared or something."

Today bail remained at $50,000 for each of the defendants.

Rezene has a been booked for various crimes 14 times since 2006 and has a felony drug conviction.

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