Man accused of luring girls to Oklahoma to become prostitutes

Friday, January 21st 2005, 6:11 am
By: News On 6

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A former Wichita high school football and track star who was among 27 men to receive the city's Beautillion Beaux award in 2003 is accused of luring young girls from Wichita to Oklahoma and forcing them to become truck-stop prostitutes.

Bobby Prince Jr., 20, faces federal charges of transporting minors for prostitution and the sex trafficking of children. His father, Bobby Prince Sr., faces similar charges, and the two could face life in prison if convicted.

Wichita police have worked for about a year with the FBI in an operation dubbed ``Stormy Nights.'' They said Bobby Prince Jr. may have used his contacts at Wichita's Northwest High School to lure six girls between the ages of 13 and 16 to Oklahoma, then forcing them into prostitution against their will.

Lt. Alan Prince, no relation, said all six girls came from the same high school, and all thought they were going to Oklahoma on day trips.

But court records show that once across state lines, the girls were held in hotels and worked as prostitutes at truck stops. Documents indicate they were given drugs, dressed provocatively and sold to over-the-road truck drivers during overnight stops along the highways.

At a detention hearing, FBI agent Mike Beaver testified that Bobby Prince Jr. had threatened the girls at gunpoint. He said that when one girl tried to escape, Bobby Prince Sr. found her at a movie theater, choked her, threatened one of her friends, and dragged her across a parking lot and into a car.

The ``Stormy Nights'' operation already has led to nearly two dozen state and federal indictments in Oklahoma City, and eight defendants have pleaded guilty.

Another man, 33-year-old Troy Lamar Sutherland, was convicted last week by a jury in a case based upon the testimony of three Wichita girls.

Police said some of the girls were sold among pimps who traveled through the Midwest and South for $400 to $500.

``These kinds of investigations are difficult because the girls are always on the move,'' Lt. Prince said. ``And when you find them, it's hard to talk to them. I think some of these girls were willing to talk to authorities in Oklahoma City because they wanted to get out.''

Three of the Wichita girls have returned home.

Officials said Bobby Prince Jr. moved from Wichita last summer to Oklahoma City to be with his father.

In 1998, he was one of 13 middle school students to win a scholarship from the Brian David Higby Fund, which recognizes middle school students who show outstanding talent and potential.

Later, he became an all-city defensive back in football, and went to state in track. And in March 2003, he was one of 27 seniors picked as a Beautillion Beaux, a long-standing celebration of Wichita's young black men.

``I have talked to Bobby Prince Jr. on many occasions, and he tells me he's 100 percent innocent of these allegations,'' said Bill Zuhdi, Prince's court-appointed lawyer.