Two arrested in teen sex-trafficking case

Vancouver woman, man allegedly preyed on girl, 17

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: March 21, 2012, 5:55 PM

 

Police have arrested two Vancouver residents, a man and a woman, on suspicion of child sex-trafficking of a teenage girl. Authorities suspect there may be more victims.

Dorothy M. Phillips, 38, and Kenneth H. White, 22, were arrested this week on suspicion of promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor.

Vancouver police Sgt. John Chapman said Phillips and White are roommates and work together in the trafficking trade.

Phillips appeared before Clark County Superior Court Judge Scott Collier on Tuesday, who set bail at $25,000. White made his first appearance Wednesday, and Judge Robert Lewis set bail at $75,000.

The two are being held in the Clark County Jail.

The case started after the 17-year-old girl met Phillips and White through a third person. Phillips encouraged the girl to begin prostituting herself; she allegedly drove the girl to Gresham, Ore., on March 15 to meet a man for sex, according to court documents. Then, police allege, Phillips kept the money paid to the girl.

Four days later, Phillips allegedly took the girl to meet another unknown man to have sex in exchange for money.

Phillips was arrested by Vancouver police investigators Monday night.

At an unknown time in the past week, White had allegedly held the girl against her will at his Vancouver home and took away her cellphone when she texted a friend for help. He also allegedly sexually assaulted her, Chapman said.

After Phillips reportedly took the girl to Portland to prostitute, White provided phone numbers to call to set up “dates,” according to court documents.

Chapman said investigators were alerted to the case by the girl’s friends in Oregon City, Ore., who had received text messages that she was being held against her will.

After serving a search warrant Tuesday at the two suspects’ home in the 1900 block of Northeast 84th Way in Vancouver, investigators arrested White.

The girl, who lives in Oregon, was rescued and is in a safe, undisclosed location, Chapman said.

Child sex-trafficking in Clark County has gained attention over the past four years, as police have seen an increase in the number of pimps, as well as more juvenile girls being sold for sex traveling between Vancouver and the Portland area for “dates.” In a November Columbian article, police estimated between 150 and 200 girls are being sold for sex in Portland and 50 girls in Clark County.

Asked whether female pimps are rare, Chapman said: “We’ve seen a few. Do I think it’s rare? It probably is.”

Phillips will be arraigned March 30 and White will be arraigned April 4.

Chapman said the investigation is ongoing, but Phillips and White are believed to be the principal players.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.