tv Sex Slaves Motor City MSNBC July 7, 2013 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
on the streets of detroit and throughout michigan, hard times are leading to hard choices for a growing number of young women caught up in the underground sex trade. >> domestic trafficking in the state of michigan is a huge problem. we've seen cases involving 12 and 13 year olds in small towns. we've seen cases involving young girls in the big cities here. they are modern day slaves on the streets all around us. >> out of work and out of options, more and more are turning to the oldest profession in a desperate bid to make ends meet. >> and why are you guys out doing this?
>> but lushing in the shadows are the pimps and traffickers. prid tors will stop at nothing to extract their pound of flesh. >> they're going to beat you, kill you or overdose you. one of the three. you're going to leave here in a bad, tragic way. >> get your hands up! >> tonight, msnbc goes undercover with the fbi in michigan as they battle to rescue the young and the lost caught in the grip of sex slavery in the motor city. detroit, michigan, once the very hub of american industrial might, the city's economic collapse is staggering. today with unemployment hovering near 20%, motown is a tough
place to find a job. that is, unless you happen to be dealing in one of the few lines of merchandise that still pays around here. the buying and selling of sex for cash. >> we actually have a number of partners that are in the task force. >> special agent michael glennen heads up the fbi's human trafficking task force in michigan. >> why the need for a task force when it comes to this issue of sex trafficking? >> in detroit, a lot of people don't realize that we're kind of a hub of both recruitment as well as what they call a destination city and a recruitment city. it's kind of the end of the i-75 corridor. there's a lot of truck traffic, a lot of components that make it a very popular area for trafficking unfortunately. >> today the task force has invited us to ride along for a first hand look at their efforts
to combat the elicit sex trade in the motor city. investigators begin the operation by browsing the online ads for adult services in metro detroit. they are hunting spefkically for postings like this one for little barbie who appears to be under age. >> initial calls to set up a date with little barbie go unaensd. but detectives keep her very much in mind. >> meanwhile, undercover officers begin to set up dates with other women who also appear to be quite young. investigators have booked adjoining rooms in an upscale hotel. in a matter of minutes, they will transform the scene into a high tech snare for call girls. >> the surveillance room where we'll be set up is 204.
the undercover room will be 206. we'll have it wired up for video and audio. >> as one team wires the rooms for video and audio surveillance, undercover officers continue to work the phones. >> hi, tiffany, hey, it's chris. >> in the course of an hour, officers make nearly 100 calls. hoping to identify and lure potential juveniles to the sting. 90 minutes into the operation, the team's efforts begin to bear fruit. >> cab's been called. she's going to call me when she's on the way in the cab. >> a young woman named sunny is the first to take the bait. >> she came inside.
she produced two condoms. she actually seemed a little naïve. she was real eager to get undressed. asked to touch the officer, stuff like that. they don't think the police will do that. i asked about oral sex. she agreed to. and i then gave the bust signal. the arresting, assisting officers enter the room. >> i can't get my purse or nothing? >> investigators soon learn that sunny is only 22. and a long way from home. >> it's going to be out of indiana. >> right now she's going to be interviewed. based off the information she gives we will either keep investigates.
if she gives us any leads in terms of any underage girls, if not, she'll go back to the state police post and she'll be held there in a cell. we'll allow her to post bond at the end of the night that way she won't be able to warn other girls. >> i don't have a job. it's like my mama don't feed me, my daddy don't feed me. we do what we got to do to get money. >> she's been doing it for approximately two months, along with her sister. they're having financial difficulties at this time. that's the reason that they had decided to become involved in prostitution. >> while sunny is taken downtown for further investigation, undercover officers continue to prime the pump. >> i'm calling to set up an appointment. i was actually hoping for barbie. >> the team continues their search for little barbie, with
the call to one of her old contact numbers. >> oh, well that's not good. >> she said barbie's locked up. >> investigators disregard that caller's information for a moment and call yet another number for barbie. this time they make contact. >> hey, it's chris. >> barbie tells the investigators that she's not comfortable doing out calls. if he wants her, he will have to travel to her location. unfortunately, the team is not set up for travel today. and the rendezvous with little barbie will have to wait until tomorrow. there are, however, a number of potential juveniles who are willing to come out. and tonight, the task force must focus on them. coming up, the task force brings down the kur tape on what
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it's a friday night in detroit, and investigators with the fbi's human trafficking task force are out in full strength. the scene is an upscale hotel in the suburbs where investigators have laid a trap for unwitting prostitutes and pimps. during this call, a woman going by the name of tiffany offers to bring a friend along for what investigators refer to as a two-girl show. >> how much will it be for the two of you, then? okay. >> tiffany's bringing a friend.
>> outside the hotel, investigators keep an eye on the front door. and it's not long before tiffany and her friend come calling. >> two likely females just went in. >> what we had was the two-girl show. the outside surveillance was able to see what vehicle they got out of, which was a white van. >> while the outside team watches the white transport van, the action inside room 206 is heating up. investigators in the room next door watch and wait for the go signal, while the undercover gets the women to agree verbally to the deal. it's a good deal, and the
arresting officers move in. with the women now in custody, investigators quickly target the white van that delivered them. >> it turned out to be four individuals. one being the boyfriend of one of the girls who was in the room on the original date. >> inside the van, detectives find dirty clothes, a mattress and a television, all signs that the vehicle is doubling as a living space, and just one more indication of hard times in detroit. >> and why are you guys out doing this for the first time? >> i'm homeless with four kids. >> and i'm trying to get my kids back. >> have you ever gone through this before? >> tiffany and natasha say that
this is their first arrest for prostitution, but both admit to prior experience dancing in the local strip clubs. >> this is your first time getting busted? >> no. this is my first time doing this, period. >> this kind of work? >> yeah. this is my first call to do or wherever i'm going. >> everyone knows what goes on at the strip clubs. >> no, i've never done [ bleep ]. i always tell guys i have babies. i have to kiss my kids goodnight. remember, you still got to kiss my babies. oh, man, my husband's going to shoot me. >> tiffany and natasha's arrest is barely five minutes old when they get word that the next date is en route and only moments away. >> i'd say she's definitely 20 or below. >> the team has no choice but to stash the women in the bathroom
of the surveillance room. while the undercover goes to work in the room next door. as soon as this young woman agrees to $180 for a half hour of sex, investigators move in and make yet another arrest. the young woman who goes by the name natalia is only 19. erratic and unusually talkative, she appears at first to be under the influence of drugs. >> did you just get done smoking some? >> huh? >> did you just get done smoking some? >> i don't smoke. >> my stomach just hurts. i'm pregnant. >> we've got a lied on another
vehicle. >> meanwhile, outside the hotel, investigators run down the vehicle that delivered natalia. inside, they find two females. both are arrested and taken downtown for questioning. the team now has ten individuals in custody. all are transported downtown where investigators hope to gather new information about the ever changing underground sex networks in detroit. >> right now, we're just getting them situated in their cells. we're going to start interviewing them one by one. >> a closer look at tiffany and natasha's case reveals what appears to be a startup pimping operation run by a convicted drug dealer out on parole. investigators will continue to probe this fledge ling outfit for possible juveniles or bigger
players in the local sex trade. as for natalia, the pregnant 19 year old, yields perhaps the most promising tip of the night. >> she was like oh, i need money i'll do that too. >> a lied on a possible juvenile going by the name kristin. according to natasha she is being exploited by a local escort service. >> how old was she at the time? >> at the time 16 or 17. >> she provides investigators with a description of the juvenile, her possible location and the name of the individual who might be exploiting her. all valuable pieces of the puzzle for these detectives who will go on working to rescue the young and the lost, caught in the grip of sex slavery in the motor city. >> we did get intel throughout the operation about juveniles
that are currently out there working. we also identified roughly two to three pimps that are working girls in the detroit metro area that we will continue to build a case on and go after them next time we go out. coming up. one woman's tale of struggle and survival on the streets of detroit. >> they're going to beat you, kill you or overdose you. and one of the three, you're going to leave here in a bad, tragic way. ♪ honey, is he too into this car thing? [ mumbling ] definitely the quattro. ♪ honey? huh? a5. what? [ sighs ] did you say something? ♪
today in michigan, the local economy is on life support. but the business of sex for sale is alive and well. in 2010, the fbi human trafficking task force estimated that roughly 20%, one in five arrested for prostitution, were juveniles. >> i think that domestic trafficking in the state of michigan is a huge problem. >> attorney bridget carr runs the human trafficking clinic
which is compiling a database for all human trafficking cases in the country. >> we've seen cases involving 12 and 13 year olds in small towns. we've seen cases involving young girls in the big cities here. >> so in your mind, the boy, girls are the equivalent of modern day sex slaves. >> all around us. >> i remember the first day it actually happened, like it was yesterday. >> for tina, like a majority of the young women and girls sold for sex, the road to a lifetime of exploitation was paved with violence. >> they're going to beat you, kill you or overdose you. one of the three, you're going to leave here in a bad, tragic way. >> tina's childhood nightmare started when her mother sold her to two neighborhood men. it began in kindergarten, and it
began with raep. >> i came home from school. my mother said i had to stay in my room because i had did something belong, which i hadn't done nothing wrong. i goes to my room. it's two grown men in my bed, completely naked. she said you take off your clothes and get in the bed with them, and that's where you're going to stay for the rest of the day. >> it was a brutal initiation into what would become a life of exploitation. >> how young were you when your mother sold you into sexual slavery? >> i was at least five. >> why did your mom do that to you? >> drugs. alcohol. and she said don't worry about it, this is what all women have to do. if you're going to live in this world, this is what you have to do. >> tina said her mother had also been sexually abused and prostituted as a young girl. >> i guess the guys didn't want her any more so she turned to me. >> at five years old, did you
even know ma was going on? >> no. >> did you know about sex? >> no. i didn't know the difference then between boy and girl. because i only have sisters. when i first told my gran mother that my mother friends was touching me, oh, you just saying that because you don't want your mother with nobody. but your dad. if the men is touching me, he's touching me. so after i told her and she didn't believe me, i just wouldn't say nothing. >> with no family to turn to, young tina was forced to grow up fast and hard on the streets of detroit. turned out by the age of 13, she would be brutalized by one pimp after another. and every time she tried to get out of the life, there was always hell to pay. >> get burned. you would get your nails pulled out with pliers. i have been stabbed here in my
chest. i have a screwdriver stabbed in my face from my first kid's father because i said i wasn't going out to work. i've been stabbed in my shoulder. i was burnt on my back with an iron because i said i wasn't going to be no prostitute. >> so when you tried to fight back, they fought you, and they beat you. >> and it comes out worser on my end than on theirs. >> so it was better to just go along. >> just go do what you had to do and come back. >> there is a promise of love there. and the pimp is very skilled in manipulating love and violence. >> dena is the executive director of alternatives for girls. one of the few nonprofits in america that helps well break free from pimps and prostitution. >> when someone tells you they love you in spite of hurting you, it may turn to love because
it's what you know. >> it's not love, it's abuse and control. >> but for them it is real love, because it is what they've been told is love. love hurts. >> i guess after being in that life for so long that it was all right to be his punching bag or his sex object or whatever. or just a person that he sold to everybody else. >> because you valued yourself so little. >> i didn't know no better. and at the time, i didn't care. i just wanted to live. >> how did you finally get out of that life all together? >> alternatives for girls. >> in 2008, a friend urged tina to seek help from alternatives for girls. there she found compassion, community, and for the first time in her life, unconditional acceptance. >> and what did they teach you?
>> they taught you that regardless of what had happened in the past, i'm a beautiful person. i don't deserve what happened to me. to love myself and keep my head up. >> so a lot of these young victims don't even know that they're victims. >> no. they don't. or even if they do, they just don't -- they think that's all they deserve or that's all their life is going to be. >> it is hard to break the pattern. >> dena says the road out of prostitution can be a long and difficult one, with many struggles and setbacks along the way. >> it's not that i don't want to, i don't brief that i can. >> but it is a vicious cycle. >> it is a vicious cycle because life just keeps pulling you back to what you know. and you have to fight everything that you have been taught. yes, there will be relapses, but
as long as there's that will to survive and change, then she will succeed. >> now i'm going to get my ged and i would like to get into counseling so i can help other women that's in my predicament. i've been close to death three times. i'm not ready to go nowhere. i have something to tell somebody. somebody is going to listen to me somewhere and get help. coming up, investigators try to save a high school girl from the clutches of a would be pimp. >> no man opens up his house to a teenager without expectation. no man does. this summer was definitely worth the wait. ♪ summer's best event from cadillac.
crashing. they say it was going too slow as it approached the airport. the wife of john kerry is in a boston hospital tonight. she arrived in critical condition. no details about the cause of her illness are being released. on our last ride along with the fbi's human trafficking task force in michigan, detectives nabbed four young women and a pimp by luring them to this undercover sting at an upscale hotel. >> all in all, great work yesterday. moving on today, we're going to do the in calls. >> now the task force will be taking their show on the road. >> this is what we would call an
in call operation. we're going to be going from hotel to hotel. undercover officer is at the mercy of the prostitutes to determine when and where these operations will take place. >> because we're going into the unknown, we'll have an emergency planning in case something happens. we'll make sure everyone is vested up. so we're taking those precautions to make sure that we're, we have safety out there for our officers. >> once again, detectives comb the online ads, looking for possible juveniles. the undercover makes contact with a very young looking woman going by the name mercedes. >> said she was 18 years old, and that she was willing to do nude lap dancing but no sex or [ bleep ]. i responded back would she be willing to do a hand job. she said she would be. right now we're texting back and forth.
>> mercedes agrees to $60 for a car date, and the team is off and running. detectives keep a watchful high on the undercover vehicle. mercedes directs the undercover to a shop mall in the suburbs and tells him to wait there in a motel parking lot. within a matter of minutes, she rolls up and climbs in to the undercover vehicle. >> and driver door's open. black female, black top. and she is inside the uc vehicle. >> arresting officers listen carefully to the radio and wait for the bust signal. >> got the call. good deal. >> it's a good deal, and the dents move in for the arrest.
>> police department. go ahead and step out. you're under arrest. we'll explain everything to you in one second, okay? >> a quick look in mercedes' purse reveals she is still in high school. dents learn that she is only two months past her 18th birthday, but they want to know more about how and when she started in the game and who she may be working for. >> so we've got her heading back to do the interviews. one of the big questions will be when did she start into the world of prostitution. did she wait until she was 18, or did she start when she was actually a juvenile. >> back at the most, the interview team grapples with a my ief, headstrong teenager who insists she's done nothing wrong. >> i'm a stripper, and that's not illegal. because i was offering a service of a lap dance. >> she seems very intelligent. she had an answer for
test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test . >> they have like families and stuff. why would you tell someone that it was you. >> do you watch the news right now? >> yes. >> this is detroit. and it's horribly violent. >> not all of these people are in detroit, though. >> the bottom line is, it's dangerous. >> it's dangerous. >> yeah, but i have to make money somehow. >> what we're trying to tell you is there's got to be something
better. you're 18. you know, you're out there. essentially, by yourself, you're a child in our eyes, because we're much older than you. and we're concerned about you. and we're just trying to encourage you to do something else. find something elsewhere you're not going to be in jeopardy. >> i'm finding more and more the youth this day and age is very much what we, what we just saw with her. they think this is their only option. and a lot of kids these days are looking for the most money, the shortest route, the least effort. >> frustrated, the officers suspect they've made little progress with this headstrong teen today. but they know it's only her first arrest for prostitution. and they hope that some time in a detention room might help her see things more clearly. >> maybe at the end of the evening, after sitting in there
for a little bit, she'll have a true epiphany. we won't know that until the end of the night. maybe pass her a business card in case she is looking for a way out. coming up, investigators finally track down little barbie. and the man who's working her. >> don't play stupid with me. don't play stupid. with tums fre. concentrated relief that goes to work in seconds and freshens breath. tums freshers. ♪ tum...tum...tum...tum... tums! ♪ fast heartburn relief and minty fresh breath.
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human trafficking task force are on the streets of detroit metro, conducting undercover sting operations. they're hunting primarily for juveniles and the pimps who exploit them. one young woman in particular has captured the team's attention. she goes by the name little barbie, and she appears to be quite young. initial attempts to lure barbie to a hotel sting failed because the young woman was reluctant to travel. so now the task force will attempt to bring the sting right to her front door. shortly after 3:00 the undercover gets the call back the whole team has been waiting for. it's little barbie. she's holed up in a nearby motel and open for business. three arrest teams race to keep up with the undercover officer,
michigan state trooper sanchez. unarmed and wearing a wire, trooper sanchez is about to brave the unknown. >> okay. uc is making a turn in. i'm going to go by and double back. >> officers must stay close enough to protect sanchez without blowing his cover. they know that somewhere nearby a pimp is lurking and watching. >> okay. room number's 214. it's going to be on the west side. >> okay. we'll pull around to the back. >> slowly and carefully the other units begin to creep in closer to the target. >> uc's at the door, knocking. the door's opening. uc's inside. >> officers listen anxiously to the static filled exchange. they know that sanchez's safety depends on their ability to track and act on every detail. suddenly a big man appears and
swaggers up to room 214. detectives suspect it may be little barbie's pimp. arresting officers continue their creep, slow and stealthy into a position. >> there he is. i see him. >> it's a good deal. and police move in to take down barbie and the male suspect. >> get your hands up! keep your hands up! >> oh, i don't want to go with you. i don't want to do nothing with you. stop. he took my clothes off. i didn't do nothing. >> when barbie realizes she's been caught, she screams, protesting that she's been raped. >> i'm not falling for this. you're going to jail no matter what. >> i didn't do nothing.
no! stop! >> where's your clothes. >> right there. i didn't do anything. he ripped my clothes off. >> put your pants on. >> i have a right, you know. >> right now you have a right to put your pants on. put them on. >> step out. >> hands up. >> despite barbie's hysterics, the male suspect is remarkably calm. >> don't play stupid with me. don't play stupid. >> man is quickly subdued in the parking lot, but upstairs in room 214, little barbie remains utterly inconsolable. detectives suspect she may be under the influence of drugs. >> yeah. she's on something.
>> please, please, i beg you. >> she's on something. are you on anything right now? >> no! >> trooper sanchez was the first to make contact with barbie. he offers another possible explanation for her amped up state. >> upon entry, she was upset, advice bring upset. said that she just got beat up. i asked her if she was okay. she didn't want to talk about it. she said she picked up the phone. she called somebody. she said it was her pimp. the pimp was going to come upstairs and pick uh the money in the room. >> police suspect barbie may have suffered a beating from the man just moments before they arrived. after ten minutes in handcuffs, the fight has finally left little barbie. >> how old is she? >> she just said i'm under age.
>> she did look young. she advised me on the phone when i talked to her earlier that she was 19 years old. when we were in the room she advised she was under age. it has not been determined how old she is. >> she is recognized from a previous sting where she was caught with a different pimp and a crack pipe. the task force is careful to keep little barbie isolated from her counterpart as they transport both of them back to the post for processing. coming up, concerned investigators throw a lifeline to little barbie. >> if you want out, if you want us to get you in a shelter, get you in a program to get you out of this life, we can. [ moaning ]
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as little barbie must decide whether or not to cooperate. >> we're going to sit down and talk, okay? >> all right. >> don't worry. i'm not a bad guy. all right? >> investigators determine barbie's real identity. despite her initial claim, she is not underage. she is 19-year-old heather jiardan. >> you got kicked out of the house. how old were you? >> 18. my grandma kicked me out because i called her a bitch. >> like her and thousands like her, their path to prostitution began with desperate circumstances. >> i wanted to go to school so i was stuck walking the street doing this life because i had no other -- i was trapped out there, basically. >> down the hall, officers interview heather's counterpart, an ex-felon known as miko. >> let's talk about today. >> okay.
>> miko denies the pimp label and claims to be nothing more than heather's driver and bodyguard. >> technically, i feel i'm doing a good thing by protecting someone. >> and how much do you make doing this? >> on average, i can get -- like on a $200 call i can get 50 bucks for driving a $200 call. on an in-call, it varies on what they want to give me. >> how much does heather make? >> whatever she wants. 75% usually and she gives me 25%. >> while miko tries to paint a rosy picture of his arrangement with heather, the 19-year-old gives police the real deal. >> how much do you get to keep? >> it's a family concept. just give it all to him. >> he keeps everything? >> i never see any money. ever. like if i ask for some, he'll give me like $5. >> he won't give you like $100. >> he weent won't give me enough to run away with basically. no bitch shall keep a dime. that's the pimp rules.
>> heather told police she tried to run away from miko twice in four months but each time he's tracked her down and pulled her back into the game. >> he don't hurt you unless you mess up. >> what do you define as messing up? >> by not listening. >> so if you don't listen to what he says -- >> you get hurt bad. >> okay. >> so you have to obey. especially a girl my size. >> officers will now offer the teen a different way out. >> if you want out, if you want us to get you in a shelter, get you in a program to get you out of this life, we can. you have a choice. if you want to do that, we'll do that. we'll start making phone calls now, get you hooked up with a shelter and get you a safe place where no one will know where you're at. >> am i being charged with anything tonight? >> no. >> we want to make sure you're safe. >> this is your choice, heather.
if you want out now, we'll make phone calls and nobody will know where you are. >> if you want to make the choice later, that's okay. >> thank you guys. >> unfortunately, the task force can see heather is either too scared or paralyzed to make a change tonight. >> we'll go this way. >> before heading out the door and back to miko, heather agrees to sit down for an interview. >> so when we first entered the room, you were screaming. >> yeah. i was screaming. >> so you screamed that he raped you. >> well, he forcefully pushed me onto the ground and i didn't know what that was at first. and then he says, you're under arrest after he's on top of me. it was, like, get off me, get off me. so i thought, okay, this is some weird guy just trying to rape me.
and i got mad at the cops for doing this. sorry i said that. but of course i didn't mean it. he did not rape me. >> our interview with heather is briefly interrupted when police walk miko down the hallway. his very presence seems to affect her demeanor dramatically. >> i don't want to take sides on this. i can't -- it's dangerous to take sides on this. >> what do you mean? >> life or death. can we redo that part? >> what do you mean it's life or death? as in, like -- like people i know could get hurt. >> could you get hurt? >> no, no, no. not -- no. >> are you on anything right now? >> no! >> to appreciate the devastating reality that is heather's existence, one needs only to look carefully at the place that serves as her home today.
amidst the sex toys, junk food and filth, a search of the squalid hotel room reveals a trove of letters and childlike drawings. heather confirms she is the author of the stories which describe a daily life of torture, agony and sorrow. among the confessions there are angry rants against the police and love letters to miko, begging him never to leave. >> is he your pimp or your boyfriend? >> he's my boyfriend, not my pimp. >> but in your letters you call him daddy. >> because he's like a father to me. he takes care of me. >> how long you have been in the life? >> about a year and a half. >> so since you were how old? >> 17. >> did you not graduate from high school? >> no, i didn't. >> why did you leave high school? >> to be in the life. i wanted to be in the life. i like the life. i thought it was, you know, fun. >> when you take a female prostitute at the time of her
arrest, it's easy to come up with that understanding, like, why are you doing this, to not be sympathetic, you knew what you were getting into. however, when you get to know them and that's what we do here, find out their life stories and you realize this may be the only thing that they have, this may be the only family that's there for them, this may be the only way they feel they can survive. every person is motivated by certain things, and it may be a warm bed to sleep in. it may be someone who feels like they're loved. so like i said, there's a number of different facets working simultaneously that i think one has to really look at to really gain an understanding of why someone is in the situation they're in. >> so are you going to try to get out of the life? or -- >> just trying to rethink it.
maybe it's not such a good idea anymore because someone could get hurt. could get killed. maybe raped. >> have you seen other girls get hurt? >> yes, i have. and i've seen real pimps actually beat their girls up bad. >> how badly? >> so bad they'd be in the hospital. it's not worth it. >> those who advocate against human trafficking know that the outcome for victims like tina and heather is often grim without meaningful intervention. >> to those people who are preying on these young women, who are on the internet and trolling and looking for an easy target, what do you say to them? >> i say that it is violence. i say that you are hurting girls. i say that you are hurting women. >> oh, my god! >> you're hurting her inside, and the hurt that is there inside will be there and she will continue to hurt herself and let others hurt her until most likely she's gone and dead. and that's what happens. girls and women die because of this.
on the streets of detroit the fbi is taking a hard line on those who sell young girls. >> i'm looking for some young girls. >> how old are you? >> investigators are scooping up more and more teens. >> is she underage? 17. >> from michigan to the suburbs romeo pimps sell dreams to the naive and even the girl next door. >> you're a victim. >> don't judge a book by its cover. just because i live in a nice house doesn't mean i live a nice life.