by: Amy Clancy Updated:
Hidden in tents in two Seattle homeless encampments known as The Jungle are as many as six teenage girls -- one as young as 13 -- who are allegedly being raped and traded throughout the camps.
These new allegations are detailed in charging documents filed this week in King County Superior Court against 47-year-old Nghia H. Nguyen.
“Predators take advantage of them, and I can’t think of anything that is a greater priority for us than rescuing these children,” Seattle Police Department Chief Kathleen O’Toole told KIRO 7 News.
KIRO 7 was the first to report that Seattle police detectives were searching for Nguyen for allegedly trafficking a 16-year-old runaway from New Jersey and holding her at gunpoint inside his tent beneath the Jose Rizal Bridge.
The allegations disturbed Allynn Ruth, who lives nearby.
“Being homeless is an unfortunate situation,” Ruth told KIRO 7 on February 1. “But you don’t get a pass for committing and visiting mayhem on other people because you’re homeless.”
The day after KIRO 7’s report aired, “a concerned citizen alerted police that Nguyen was “in the area of 14th Avenue South and East Yesler Way,” according to court documents.
Nguyen was arrested and is now charged with Rape in the Second Degree. He remains behind bars.
His 16-year-old alleged victim told police there were "over six other juvenile girls … in the jungle area," one just 13-years old.
A 14-year-old runaway from Idaho told police she too "was raped and sexually exploited by several persons" at The Jungle.
Seattle Police detectives interviewed a 16-year-old from Seattle who is also "a possible victim of rape and sexual exploitation involving Nguyen."
“We take human trafficking very seriously, but especially when it involves children,” said assistant chief Robert Merner.
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