A 14-year-old girl connected with a 28-year-old stranger named Gregory Lionel Foster on Facebook. A fear so many parents have. It's unclear if this was planned, but sometime after, Foster saw the girl at a gas station where he bought her snacks and a drink. He offered the girl a ride home. He kidnapped her. Less than seven hours later, the girl was saved by Orlando police, but not before she was forced to have sex with Foster who then attempted to make her a prostitute. Foster has been charged with human trafficking and kidnapping.
In total there were 44 people arrested during a three-day sting. This unthinkable crime happens all too often. What happens is those kidnapped fall into what the police call dysfunctional relationships because they are vulnerable and easily manipulated. They tell the young girls they are beautiful and give them gifts, but use them to make money when they sell them for sex. Police say there is a demand for the sex trafficking of minors.
Tomas Lares, the chair the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force, said that predators are looking for children. He said that it seems that "the demand is growing to have sex with children. It's going to take a collaborative effort to really put a dent ... and hopefully save many of the children in our community from these predators."
Last year there were 126 human trafficking tips filed in his district in Florida, which is twice as many as the year before. This is a horrifying detail.
This girl was subjected to about seven hours of torture and it was all before her mother even realized her daughter was in trouble ... or missing. It was reported that the 14-year-old realized she wasn't safe with Foster and tried to run away, but he took her to a motel where he forced himself on her. He then went online to a sex site and arranged for the girl to have sex with a stranger for $270. That's how he was caught and the girl was saved.
In a short seven hours, this girl's life changed in the most horrific way. I hope the law takes care of this man and the 43 others arrested in connection. I hope this child finds a way to overcome this, as well as her mother and family.
Kids are just so vulnerable. We can teach them that they shouldn't meet up with strangers they meet on Facebook, tell them the dangers of getting in cars with people they don't know -- but we cannot fully protect them from everything. We cannot be next to them every minute holding their hand in every decision they make. I can only hope that this tragedy helps other kids learn and helps police gain more insight on getting these perpetrators off the streets.
What type of punishment do you believe Foster should get? Is this type of crime rising in your area as well?
Image via Central Florida Police