A Hopkins High School senior faces felony charges that she prostituted one of her cheerleading teammates — a 16-year-old girl who receives special education services.
Montia Marie Parker, 18, of Maple Grove will appear in Hennepin County District Court next week to face charges of sex trafficking and promoting prostitution. The cheerleader is accused of setting up a Backpage.com ad for her teammate, claiming she wanted to help her make money, driving her to a Crystal apartment to have sex with a man and then taking the $60 the girl made.
Across the state, police working at high schools are seeing more cases involving teenage girls whose sexual services have been peddled on Backpage.com, a common website for juvenile prostitution.
“We’re seeing a lot of Backpage-related stuff,” said Minneapolis Lt. Kim Lund, president of the Minnesota Juvenile Officers’ Association, adding that the cases aren’t just happening in the metro area but in St. Cloud and rural Minnesota. “It’s probably more prevalent than we want to admit.”
However, Lund said, it’s unusual for a case to involve a teenager prostituting a fellow teen; most human trafficking cases involve adult men or women trafficking adults or teens.
In March, the FBI and Minnetonka police were contacted to investigate a prostitution case allegedly involving Hopkins High School girls. They discovered that the 16-year-old sophomore girl, who works with a social worker because of a developmental cognitive delay, had mentioned to her cheerleading teammates that she was trying to make some money.
According to the criminal complaint, Parker sent the girl a Facebook message asking for her number and then sent her a text message asking if she’d be willing to have sex for money. When the girl said she’d be willing to have oral sex for money, Parker requested the girl send photos of herself that are “not too nasty but kind of cute,” the charges say.
Parker posted the photos on Backpage.com, listing her own phone number. On March 5, the girls left Hopkins High School and went to a Crystal apartment building. “You’re up!” Parker told the girl. The 16-year-old girl went into the apartment and had oral sex with a man for $60, giving the money to Parker, who deposited it into her bank account, the charges say.
The same thing happened the next day. This time, Parker pretended to be the girl’s mother and called the school to get her excused. The girls left school and went to a Brooklyn Park home where the girl was directed to have intercourse with a man. She refused.
“You’ll be fine — I didn’t drive up here for nothing, and eventually you will need to have sex,” Parker told the girl, according to the complaint. The girl told the man she wouldn’t have intercourse with him but would have oral sex. The man refused and Parker drove the girl back to Hopkins High School.
The girl’s mother, noticing changes in her daughter’s behavior and hearing that she had an unexcused absence from school, checked her daughter’s cellphone and saw the text messages between her daughter and Parker. She called Minnetonka police.
Disturbing, but unusual
Minnetonka Police Chief Mark Raquet said he’s never heard of a case in his department’s history involving Backpage.com prostitution of a student. “This is highly unusual not just for this school, but any other school in our jurisdiction,” Raquet said.
Parker was permanently removed from Hopkins High School in March, according to the school district’s policy. District spokeswoman Jolene Goldade said it’s a serious case for the 1,800-student school, but because it didn’t happen on school grounds, parents weren’t notified. “When we learned of [the charges], we acted immediately to ensure the safety of all Hopkins High School students,” she said in a statement.
Police traced the Backpage.com ad to Parker, who admitted to police that she created the ad for her teammate. She told police she received “a lot of calls” from men for the ad.
She was booked into the Hennepin County jail May 22, appearing in Hennepin County District Court on May 23 and posting a $50,000 bond. Parker, who is represented by a Hennepin County public defender, is to appear in court next Wednesday.
If convicted, she faces up to 20 years behind bars and/or a $50,000 fine.