David Jones mug

David Jones, via OPSO

Authorities in New Orleans have jailed a man suspected of selling a 13-year-old girl to others for sex after a live video of the young runaway being abused surfaced on social media last month.

The arrest of David Jones, 26, comes as state officials say human trafficking for sexual purposes has been on the rise.

Although law enforcement agents often resort to undercover sting operations to capture suspected sex traffickers, in this case, a graphic video clip apparently prompted her family to contact authorities for help.

According to police, the mother of the unidentified girl reported her as a runway on Aug. 2. Six days later, an unknown woman called the mother and told her a video was streaming live on Twitter of several men having sex with her underage daughter.

Police said the mother soon learned that the girl had been dropped off at a relative’s residence.

Detective Nijel Baddoo then recovered the video clip, which depicted the teen having intercourse with one man while five others chanted encouragement to the man.

The girl was taken to Children’s Hospital to speak with a forensic interviewer who specializes in sexual abuse. During the interview, the girl said she ran away from home and ended up staying at an unspecified hotel in New Orleans’ downtown area with a man she knew only as “D,” police wrote in court records released Monday.

The girl said D made her have sex with men in exchange for cash, which she then gave to D.

The girl told men who asked her age that she was 13, but she said D slapped her, grabbed her by the neck and ordered her to say she was 18.

The girl said D beat her on other occasions and forced her to have sex with him “to earn the clothes he purchased (for) her.”

Court records don’t explain how police ended up determining that “D” was Jones. But by Aug. 20, Baddoo had secured a warrant to arrest him.

Jones was booked Friday on trafficking of children for sexual purposes, sexual battery, second-degree kidnapping and cruelty to juveniles.

He could face decades in prison if eventually convicted as charged. His bail in the case was set at $125,000. But he was being held without bail for an alleged parole violation and remained in jail Monday.

Attorney Craig Mordock, who is representing the girl's family, commended the NOPD for arresting Jones.

“But, as is made clear from (Jones’) warrant, there are other individuals involved who have committed a sexual assault on this girl,” Mordock added. “And we would expect them to be brought to justice as well.”

It wasn’t clear Monday whether police had warrants to arrest anyone else in connection with the case.

Louisiana last year registered more than 680 reports of human trafficking, a jump of 52 percent from 2016. The increase could be explained by more agencies and service providers reporting the data, officials have said.

Three of the five parishes with the most reported victims are in the New Orleans area: Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany.

The Legislature this year passed two bills targeting sexual exploitation. One set policies for employers to detect when job candidates are human trafficking victims; the other one increased penalties for prostitution crimes. 

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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