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Continued: Shamed into silence

The man was later convicted of promoting and soliciting to practice prostitution. Two of the three men in the motel pleaded guilty to engaging in prostitution. The third was convicted of a misdemeanor count in the case.

The episode still haunts her, she said. It drove her parents to become even stricter, limiting her contact only to cousins they thought were good influences.

"You do really get isolated," she said.

Slow to forget

Once a label is slapped on a girl, it's almost impossible to remove.

A 14-year-old St. Paul girl who was gang-raped in 1998 says the crime taught her how quickly news travels in the small Hmong community.

"After all this happened, I went to school. Everybody knew. They all just looked at me ... like, you know, 'She's just a slut. Don't look at her.' I felt really bad." Schoolmates called her names and beat up her best friend for defending her, she said.

Her family treated her differently, too. One family member doesn't want her to spend time with her younger siblings anymore, apparently afraid she might be a bad influence.

Now 21, she struggles with self-doubt, telling herself that "the past is the past. I'm a better person now." She tries to ignore what others might think.

It hasn't been easy. She believes she still hears whispering and snickers. She might be out shopping, she said, and encounter a Hmong person who gives her the look -- the cold, condemning expression that says she's worthless.

"They all just look at me like I'm just a tramp," she said. "I'm nothing but air."

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