INDIANAPOLIS - A 24-year-old man was arrested on multiple counts of child molestation, human trafficking and promoting prostitution, officials said.
Jerry Mitchell was reportedly the leader of a human trafficking operation that involved teenage victims and at least one 12-year-old child with special needs, officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said.
Joniece Peet, 26, was also arrested in connection with promoting prostitution and her involvement with the operation, IMPD said.
The incidents happened in several locations throughout Marion County. Sources close to the investigation said at least two of the victims were runaways.
Police said the pair would troll for children on the street in the vicinity near 16th Street and College Avenue, an area known as a hotbed for prostitution.
The kids were offered up for sale on a well-known hook-up website. The kids were offered all over town and were advertised as adults, sources close to the investigation said.
Sources said the suspects had oral, anal and vaginal sex with the child victims.
"Young children, they're susceptible to all kinds of things and may not understand what they're doing. And as we allege in this case, one of the victims is developmentally disabled. So, her capacity is not even that of a 12-year-old," IMPD Lt. Chris Bailey said.
The situation may have started with a chance meeting when the suspect picked up one of the victims who had been hitchhiking, sources said.
Police were not notified of the situation until the kids went home and told their parents, officials said.
Police said this was still an active investigation and other arrests were possible.
Sources close to the investigation said they expected other children who had been victims to come forward.
"These are all allegations. But detectives believe they have a very strong case against these individuals. And we want anybody else who may be a victim of these predators to come forward and let us know. They are victims," Bailey said.
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