Updated: 12/12/2013 12:58 PM
Created: 12/12/2013 11:57 AM KSTP.com
By: Jennie Olson
A man and woman have been charged with trafficking a 15-year-old girl in St. Paul and putting an ad for her on Backpage.com.
According to the criminal complaint, the victim emailed Backpage.com and referred to an ad, saying “These pictures was taking of me and posted on backpage the people that posted them have been making me sleep with the guys that called im only 15 years old…. Please help.” The ad claimed the girl was 19 years old.
The message was sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and then to the Human Trafficking Unit of the St. Paul Police Department.
The investigation revealed that the ad was placed from a URL that originated on the 600 block of Edmund Avenue in St. Paul. Officers went to the location on Monday, Nov. 25, and found 24-year-old Johnathan Bernard Edwards and 21-year-old Kauser Mohamoud Yusuf.
Officers say a black sheet was separating the back bedroom from the rest of the house and that there was a blow-up mattress on the floor.
During the investigation, officers talked to the victim, who said she met Edwards and Yusuf in July. She claimed they took her to a hotel in Maplewood and that Edwards took pictures of her in lingerie and put them on the internet.
The victim said Edwards and Yusuf had men come over to the house to have sex with her; she estimated she had sex with 7-20 men a day.
Officers executed a search warrant at the home Monday, Dec. 9, and confiscated 16 items, including two cell phones, a laptop computer, and photos of the victim in lingerie.
Yusuf denied engaging in sex trafficking, and Edwards denied even knowing the victim.
Yusuf and Edwards have each been charged with first degree sex trafficking. If convicted, they each face up to 20 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.