NEW YORK – A police detective and a woman forced a 13-year-old runaway to work as a prostitute at parties around the city, telling her that if she tried to escape the officer would make her sell herself on the streets, prosecutors said.
Wayne Taylor, 35, and Zelika Brown, 29, were arrested on charges of kidnapping, promoting prostitution, assault and endangering the welfare of a child, the Queens district attorney's office said Wednesday.
Taylor, a 14-year New York Police Department member assigned to the housing bureau, was suspended without pay, the department said. Both he and Brown pleaded not guilty Wednesday.
Taylor's attorney, Peter Brill, told reporters his client "has the right to have the case proven against him beyond a reasonable doubt." Randall Unger, an attorney for Brown, did not immediately respond to an after-hours phone message seeking comment.
Taylor and Brown each face up to 25 years in prison if convicted. They were each being held on $250,000 (euro170,000) bail, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, the teenage girl ran away from her home in the city's Brooklyn borough on Jan. 10 and met someone who offered to get her a job dancing for money at parties. That person then introduced her to Brown, who told the girl that she had bought her for $500 (euro340) and that she had to work off the debt, prosecutors said.
Taylor instructed the girl to tell people that she was 19 years old and that she charged $40 to $80 (euro25 to euro50) for sexual acts, prosecutors said.
Taylor and Brown took the girl to parties throughout the city where she was told to have sex with about 20 men in exchange for money given to the pair, prosecutors said.
While holding the girl against her will, Brown chided her for not earning enough money and slammed her head into the floor, prosecutors said.
Taylor told the victim that if she failed to earn more money or tried to leave, he would force her to work as a prostitute on the streets, prosecutors said. He told the girl an alarm on the house would alert him if she tried to leave, they said.
A 17-year-old girl was also being held on charges of promoting prostitution, assault and endangering the welfare of a child, prosecutors said. Her arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday night. She will be charged as an adult.
The 17-year-old was told to oversee the 13-year-old at parties, prosecutors said. She is accused of slapping the 13-year-old at Brown's behest for being too talkative with customers and punching the girl, giving her a black eye, prosecutors said.
The 13-year-old escaped to her family, who took her to a police precinct, police said.
"This case is every parent and every child's worst nightmare, made even more frightening by the fact that one of the defendants is a police officer who swore to uphold the law and the community he serves," District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement.