Stolen youth: Prostitution exacts its price

24-year-old woman describes five years of too-common pain

Pioneer Press, August 15, 1999
By Ruben Rosario

Editor's note: Because of fears that harm might come to them, the mother and daughter profiled in this column requested anonymity. The Pioneer Press agreed to protect their identities in exchange for their stories, most of which is corroborated through court records and interviews with police and prosecutors.

Angela did her first trick at 13.

By 16, the former St. Paul suburban middle-schooler was her accused pimp's "golden girl," as she puts it, making upward of $1,000 a day having sex for money and dancing in topless bars and strip clubs from Baltimore to Florida.

By 18, she had contracted venereal diseases, undergone two abortions and, when she got out of line, been beaten and punished sexually in every way imaginable.

At 19, she was trying to build a new life and reclaim a childhood forever lost.

At 24, she is still at it.

"We showed her a Christmas reunion photo album and I could see her get emotional because she was not in them," says her mother, who hired a private investigator and cruised some mean streets herself in search of her daughter. "There's no question she lost her childhood."

Angela's story from troubled runaway to high-priced teen prostitute is horrific, but all too common. Last's week federal indictment of people suspected of running a Minneapolis-based juvenile prostitution ring that operated in 24 states and two Canadian provinces only reinforces the dangers our children are facing when they leave home.

Angela grew up with an older sister in middle-class suburbia. She says she was used like a pingpong ball in her well-to-do parents acrimonious divorce and custody battle.

"They played kidnapping games, back and forth, hiding us out," she says. "My parents were into partying, and I resented that. I didn't want to have anything to do with them until I got older and realized how hard life is."

She fought constantly with her mother, and one day in 1988, depending on who's telling the story, ran away or was kicked out of the house. A young man befriended her outside a theater in downtown Minneapolis. He said he had a friend who would offer her a place to stay for the night.

That man, she says, was James Edward Hayes, 35, formerly of Minneapolis and now inmate No. 203115 at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Moose Lake.

Hayes and everyone else in the house, including another young woman, were "real sweet." The niceties lasted about a week. Hayes, she said, told her she had to give back something in return. The woman with Hayes told Angela she worked for a call service and described a glamorous life of fast money and travel.

"I didn't feel like I could walk out the door," Angela recalls. "I did not want to go to juvenile hall, where I would be placed in a foster home. I chose to stay."

It would be the worst mistake of her life, though she didn't know it at the time.

Bonnie, Angela's mother, is a businesswoman in her late 40s who lives in a nice suburban home that backs up to a lake.

Shortly after her daughter's disappearance, she filed a missing persons police report, hired a private investigator and hit the streets herself.

"I went to clubs, where I thought she might be, paid for information and went to Hayes' home one time looking for her," Bonnie recalls. "He had a smirk on his face and told me that he didn't know whom I was talking about. My daughter later told me she was there and was hustled out the back way."

The cops picked up Angela one time. Bonnie noticed in her daughter's belongings a book filled with the names and the phone numbers of tricks. There were also the numbers of escort services, the same ones she had seen listed in the local Yellow Pages and newspapers.

She knew now what her daughter was doing. She called some of the numbers in anger.

"I told them I was Crystal or whatever name she was using, and that I had tested positive for AIDS. Then I would hang up," Bonnie said last week.

She sent her daughter to a group home in northern Minnesota. There, Angela learned she was pregnant and then underwent the first of two abortions. She was in constant contact with Hayes.

"I thought I was in love with him," Angela says. "It's all a game. You believe that you are the one he loves, and that all the other girls are just whores."

Bonnie got her daughter an apartment and a job in Dinkytown after Angela was released from the group home. Angela bolted five months later, and returned to Hayes.

After two years of working out of hotels and private homes in Minnesota, Angela spent the next three years working the escort service-dance club circuit in Tampa, Fla., and Baltimore.

For the most part, her tricks were predominantly white, married and willing to pay a higher premium for younger girls. She followed the rule of the pimp game: don't look any men in the eye unless it was a trick or you got permission. Rule No. 2: hand over all the money.

"It was hardly `Pretty Woman,' " Angela says. "The fact of the matter is that I never kept a dime."

Why didn't she just leave?

"I tried to leave a couple of times and he beat me up and I thought he was going to kill me," Angela said of Hayes in a police interview.

Angela lived in a world of pimps, prostitutes and "johns." One overly generous trick pulled out a fur from his wife's closet, and offered it to her. Beatings, whether witnessed against other girls or inflicted upon her, were a daily reality.

At 18, maturity opened her eyes. She told her mother that she wanted to leave Tampa, Hayes and the lifestyle to make a new life out West. It was 1992.

"I had not given hope up on my daughter, but it got to the point where I was resigned just to hear from her and know that she was still alive," recalls Bonnie.

On March 19, 1997, five years after Angela had left, a young prostitute claiming to have been physically and sexually abused by Hayes filed a police complaint against him.

Acting on a warrant, Minneapolis police Sgt. Andrew Schmidt arrested Hayes three days later in an illegally parked van in Minneapolis. Three women were inside the van, which contained day planners and scores of sexually explicit pictures of naked young girls, some of them having sex with Hayes.

One picture shows a wisp-like, blond girl wearing a T-shirt that read: Sir Hayes -- PIMP (Person Improving Men's Problems).

It turned out to be Angela.

Hayes was charged with several counts of criminal sexual conduct in connection with Angela and promoting prostitution with another victim. Angela was contacted and agreed to testify. Hayes pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct after prosecutors agreed to dismiss the prostitution charge.

Citing incompetent legal representation, Hayes unsuccessfully tried to withdraw his plea and was sentenced in July to three years and four months in prison, 15 years' probation and required to register as a sex offender and undergo sex-offender treatment.

Hayes will serve an additional 100 months in prison if he violates probation. He has denied most of Angela's allegations.

"I was messing with her when she was 16, but she was my girlfriend and doing all that stuff on her own," he said from prison. "I didn't do anything like that (pimping). I never beat up nobody, and I never had sex with no 13-year-old."

Case prosecutor Chuck Salter chuckles at Hayes' remarks.

"Based on our evidence, he's both a child molester and a pimp," Salter says. He says prosecutors couldn't charge Hayes with prostituting Angela because the three-year statute of limitations had long expired when Hayes was arrested.

Angela works as a heavy-equipment operator in the state where she lives. For the first time in her life, she has formed a loving relationship with a man. Mother and daughter are close. But demons persist.

"I cry all the time. I trust nobody," she told Schmidt in a police interview in 1997. "I missed my whole childhood. I never went to high school. I don't know, I'm 22 now and starting over."

Today, she feels better about her life.

"I was brainwashed, and I was messed up mentally and emotionally. But I feel better about myself. I hope other girls in my situation just leave right now and go to someone they trust. But I also know that, in reality, there may be nothing I can say to them to do that. They have to do it themselves."

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