Crime & Courts

Wichita sex offender paid girl to recruit other girls for sex, court records show

The difference between prostitution and sex trafficking

According to experts, it's important to understand the differences between prostitution, which is voluntary, and sex trafficking, which can trap victims with involuntary sex work.
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According to experts, it's important to understand the differences between prostitution, which is voluntary, and sex trafficking, which can trap victims with involuntary sex work.

A Wichita man charged with sex trafficking was paying a teenage girl to find girls he could pay for sex — and he wanted to make sure they were young, according to a court document unsealed Friday.

The teenage girl, who is not named in the court documents, recruited her “homegirls” into human trafficking and kept a portion of their earnings for herself. She was born in 2002, court records show.

Long Van, a 38-year-old registered sex offender, was arrested July 29 at 500 E. Central. He was already on probation for a 2017 child sex crime.

The newest charges accuse Van of sex trafficking a 15-year-old, “knowing that the child, with or without force, fraud, threat or coercion, will be used to engage in sexual gratification of the defendant or another, involving the exchange of anything of value,” court documents say.

Van was arrested after Wichita police went through the teen-aged girl’s phone. She had been advertising on an online escort site, and Wichita police arranged a meeting at a hotel where she agreed to exchange money for sexual acts, according to a probable cause affidavit released Friday.

On her phone, police found 2,903 messages with Van from February 21 and May 28.

The messages, some of which are included in the affidavit, show that Van frequently asked the girl, who is only identified by the initials “CDS” in the court documents, to find him girls that he could pay for sex. He would ask for pictures and said, “I like yall young.”

“How old is she,” he asked CDS about one of the girls on March 7.

“15,” CDS said.

Van asked to see the girl’s student ID as proof.

Then he wrote: “Then I want her,” “She young,” “I wanna make sure,” and “Im kool with her being young,” according to the affidavit.

CDS told Van to pay her $200 and the 15-year-old girl $100, but keep that “between us.”

“U gonna pay her 100 and pay me 200 for bringing her and cause she’s a virgin,” CDS wrote to Van.

He repeatedly asked her “Any new girls?”

“Good young ones ok babe,” he said on March 18.

CDS wrote that “young girls really don’t mess wit it like 17-19 do tho . . . That good? . . . youngest I can try is like 16.”

“Ya i mean i don’t want no old ones,” he responded.

On April 28, CDS sent Van a text message saying, “I got 3 girls for you rn !”

He wanted to know how old they were and where she found them.

“They my homegirls and I was wit them and they wanted to get put on,” she wrote.

CDS told Van to pay her $120 for the three girls — “40 each girl.”

In addition to charging Van a fee for finding him girls, CDS would also take 40% of the money from the girls being trafficked, according to the affidavit.

Six different girls under age 18 are shopped to Van by CDS from the end of February to May.

A 15-year-old girl who had visited his house for sex in exchange for money identified him in a photo line-up of similar-looking Asian men before he was arrested, the affidavit says.

Wichita police have previously declined to provide details about the circumstances surrounding Van’s arrest.

“During an ongoing sex trafficking investigation, investigators obtained probable cause to believe he was involved in sex trafficking,” Wichita Police Department spokesman Charley Davidson said of Van.

The court document unsealed Friday shows that part of the investigation included responding to online escort ads on a website similar to Backpage.com, which was shut down by the federal government last year.

CDS had posted a photo of herself on the site, the affidavit says. Wichita police’s vice unit arranged a meeting at a motel where she agreed to accept money for sex.

CDS was taken into custody and for questioning, and police searched her phone. That’s where they found Van’s messages.

Wichita police recognized Van from a previous case. He was serving a 24-month probation sentence after pleading no contest to less severe felonies than he was initially charged.

His previous charges stemmed from his activities between March and May 2017. He was charged with six counts of commercial sexual exploitation of a child involving two minors. One was 15 and the other was 16, court records show.

As part of a plea agreement, Van pleaded no contest to two lesser counts of unlawful use of a communication facility. Four of the charges were dropped.

Sedgwick County District Judge Stephen Ternes sentenced Van to two years of probation on Dec. 20, 2018, with the option to get a 20% reduced sentence for “good time credit.” He also ordered Van to register as a sex offender for 15 years. His sentencing documents specify that his crimes were sexually motivated.

Van is out on $250,000 bond and remains on probation. He is barred from contacting anyone under 16 while he’s out of jail.

If you have a tip for Wichita police related to human trafficking, you may call 911 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

Chance Swaim won the Betty Gage Holland Award in 2018 for distinguished service to honor and protect the integrity of public dialogue on America’s college campuses. He has been a news reporter for The Wichita Eagle since 2018. You can contact him at 316-269-6752 and cswaim@wichitaeagle.com.
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