10 June 2010

Living with "Daddy" and "Uncle C"

37-year-old Colin Anthony Dyer goes on trial this morning on charges of sexual battery on one woman, and human trafficking of her and another. He was one of four arrested last year in what the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office described as a sex trafficking ring.

Authorities at the time said Dyer's co-defendant, Kenyatta Cornelous, was the ringleader of a group that lured in young women, impressed them with a $600,000 house the men were renting in Treasure Island, and forced them into prostitution. Dyer is the first to come to trial. Cornelous' trial date has not been set.

The alleged victim of the rape is a woman who was older than 18 but under 21. Her name and exact age are not listed in court records.

She told attorneys in April that she was working as an exotic dancer in February 2009 and needed to move out of her apartment. She heard that a man named Kenyatta Cornelous "helped out girls that were down on their luck."

After several conversations with Cornelous, she also met Dyer, whom she called his "wing man." The men helped her sublet an apartment near 49th Street in St. Petersburg. She also visited Cornelous' house in Treasure Island, where there were several other women who appeared to be living with him.

Later, she said, Cornelous told her he could get her a job at Vegas Showgirls, 10570 Gandy Blvd. N, near St. Petersburg. It had more customers than the club where she was working at the time, "So I figured I'd give it a try."

Then, according to records, Cornelous explained the deal to her: "He was my, quote-unquote, 'Daddy.' I worked for him now. I would be working at the club six nights a week for 12- to 14-hour shifts. He explained to me the way that the VIP room works, like $275 for half an hour. You have to do whatever the gentleman requests, whether it's having sexual intercourse or just oral intercourse, whatever they want, they pay for it. The club supplies, you know, condoms and things like that, towels and stuff."

Chip Jones, manager of Vegas Showgirls, denied last week that there had been any prostitution in the club, and said the charges against Dyer, Cornelous and the others, "had nothing to do with us."

Colin Anthony Dyer
"There was never nothing done inside here," he said.

The woman said she also would have to give sex to Cornelous and his cohorts. "Pretty much they owned me."

Cornelous also told her Dyer "was my Uncle C and he would be taking care of me … until I was broken in or whatever," she said.

Kenyatta Cornelous
She was "incredulous," but she says they gave her a drink and she blacked out. When she awoke, she said she found tears and bleeding on parts of her body that indicated to her she had been raped. There was no way to get to a doctor. Ultimately, she says she lost her baby — she was in the first trimester.

The men, including Dyer, also gave her little blue pills — oxycodone — for the pain, she said. She ended up getting addicted.

She also said some of the men got angry one night and, "Kenyatta took me back in the bedroom of the Treasure Island house in the master bedroom and raped (another woman) and I." Another night, she said, Cornelous ordered her to give oral sex to Dyer. Another time, she said, Dyer raped her.

One night, she says, she and another woman started screaming "we're being kidnapped" and "help us." She says Dyer stopped them, at one point shutting the door on the other woman's finger.

Her break came when Cornelous needed her to get some new identification, which meant she had to call her father. She says Cornelous gave her a script of what to say, and watched closely as she made the call.

But another woman started "throwing a fit" about something, which distracted Cornelous, and gave her the chance to tell her father to "come save me."

She told him, "bring some money so you can pretend you're a customer."

So that night, she said, her father arrived at Vegas Showgirls as planned, acting like a customer, and said he was going to get her away from the club.

But she was worried about Cornelous. She told her father, "I'm scared that he's going to kill me."

They left anyway. "I didn't even get dressed, I didn't even put my street clothes on, I walked out of there with the bikini on and my 8-inch clear heels … and my dad was holding my hand, pulling me out the whole time."

When bouncers rushed out of the club and tried to stop them, she says her father told them: "This is my daughter. … If you try to stop us, I'll kill you."

And she escaped.

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Before the World Cup, South Africa is Already Winning

Top leaders in South Africa's travel and tourism industry signed the Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct - calling for zero tolerance of child exploitation.

JOHANNESBURG, 9 June 2010 - UNICEF applauded the South African tourism and hospitality industry for its significant commitment to put an end to child sex tourism. The Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct is aimed at protecting children and to leaving an enduring legacy of good practice beyond the World Cup, which starts Friday 11 June.

"The contribution of the travel and tourism industry is [vital] to help stamp out child sexual exploitation. When it comes to the sexual exploitation of children, there can be no innocent bystanders. ... Effective child protection is only possible when all sectors of society were mobilised. Together, we must demonstrate [zero] tolerance of child exploitation and make South Africa a tourist destination that is safe for children." - Aida Germa, UNICEF Representative

Fourteen leading organisations in the South African travel, hotel and tourism industry have signified that they are behind the Code. They include AVIS, Hertz, Budget and Europcar; Sun International, Radisson, Protea Hotels and Tourvest. These companies have become signatories to The Code to help ensure that tourism facilities do not become havens for crimes against children.

Yesterday’s signing is also linked to a wider UNICEF-led national communication campaign ‘Let's Give a Red Card to Child Exploitation’ aimed at protecting children during the World Cup and beyond. Tens of thousands of visitors will find Red Card child protection information and referral numbers in their hotel rooms, rental cars and tour package dockets.
To date, nearly 1,000 companies in 35 countries have signed The Code. Tourism businesses that choose to sign The Code commit themselves to implement the following measures on an ongoing basis:
Establish an ethical corporate policy regarding sexual exploitation of children.
Train personnel in the country of origin and in destinations.
Introduce clauses in contracts with suppliers, stating a common repudiation of sexual exploitation of children.
Provide information to travellers (e.g. brochures, posters, in-flight videos, ticket slips, home pages, etc).
Provide information to local "key persons" at tourism destinations.
Report annually.