Last Updated on May 16, 2022
A 15-year-old girl was kidnapped at a Dallas Mavericks NBA game and taken to an Oklahoma hotel where she was sex trafficked for days on end. Her family says the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks, and even the police did nothing to help, and that the teen was only rescued after her family members launched their own investigation and discovered nude images of her online, where she was listed for sale.
The 15-year-old girl went missing during the Dallas Mavericks’ April 8th home game against the Portland Trailblazers, which she had attended with her father. She ultimately left her seat around halftime to use the restroom and never returned.
She was later spotted on surveillance footage being ushered out of the American Airlines Center by a black man, who was reportedly able to gain entrance to the venue using a fake ticket.
Her father reported her missing to the Dallas police officers stationed at the arena right away, but was told to go home and make the report to his local department in North Richland Hills. When he called the police back home in the suburbs, he was told that they couldn’t do anything about it, because the incident took place outside of their jurisdiction, in Dallas. The family filed missing person reports anyways and refused to give up their search. According to their attorney, the family made repeated attempts to contact Dallas PD regarding their search for their missing daughter, but the authorities refused to act.
“By the time the Mavericks game ended, his daughter had not been found, and the father was instructed by authorities he should return to his home,” said the family’s attorney, Zeke Fortenberry. “For the next several days, the family repeatedly called the Dallas Police Department to help locate their daughter,” but Fortenberry says that the “Dallas Police never began an investigation and failed to make any efforts to locate the teenage girl.”
All the while, the missing girl was largely ignored by the media, particularly sports media, who paid virtually no attention to the story. The NBA, which issues statements on left-wing political causes on a very regular basis, stayed quiet on the missing girl and the Dallas Mavericks issued a minimal statement wishing the investigation well.
Unsatisfied with the continued lack of a response they got from the police, the NBA, and the American Airlines Center, they began working with a Houston-based team of investigators that specialize in identifying and taking down human trafficking networks.
Investigators with the non-profit Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative were able to use facial-recognition technology and reverse image searches to locate a nude photo advertisement of the 15-year-old girl online, where she was being sold for sex. The ad was traced back to an Oklahoma City, Oklahoma hotel, and police were ultimately conducted a raid in which the young girl was rescued on April 18th. While at the hotel, she is said to have endured horrific sexual abuse.
Amazingly, while police had the girls’ information for over a week and appear to have made no advances in the case, and are accused by her family and family attorneys of making no real effort, the team of private investigators with the Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative was able to locate her in just one day.
While the girl has fortunately been returned to her family, attorney Zeke Fortenberry says that they will be pursuing claims against various parties “for their negligence” and it is speculated that the Dallas Mavericks and the American Airlines Center will be included in any upcoming litigation.
“She was gone missing a total of 11 days,” Fortenberry says. “[These organizations] are on notice that we’re pursuing claims against them for their negligence and other causes of action.”
A total of 8 individuals, including the black man who the girl was spotted with leaving the arena, were arrested and charged with crimes related to the kidnapping and subsequent sex trafficking and abuse scheme. Their names and charges are listed below:
- Kenneth Nelson – human trafficking /distribution of child porn
- Steven Hill – second-degree rape
- Sarah Hayes – human trafficking /distribution of child porn
- Karen Gonzales – human trafficking /distribution of child porn
- Thalia Gibson – felony warrant
- Saniya Alexander – felony warrant
- Melissa Wheeler – robbery warrant
- Chevaun Gibsion – offering to engage – prostitution