Framework

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Marisela Quintero, third from left, is the only social worker in Clark County assigned primarily to child prostitutes. Here, she appears in Judge William O. Voy's courtroom in Las Vegas.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Quintero talks with a girl who had been picked up over the weekend, taking her history and explaining what to expect in court. "I am a social worker because I love to help. Sometimes it can be really challenging, but when you can make an impact on one person's life, you have tremendous power to affect change," she said.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Quintero, married and a mother, works with teens who need a family but instead have found a pimp.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Quintero listens to a girl at the Clark County Detention Center. "At the beginning, a lot of times the girl thinks this is a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship," Quintero says, regarding their relationship with their pimps.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

In Las Vegas, the girls are treated as victims, not criminals, a relatively new tactic. Solicitation charges are usually dropped in favor of less severe offenses.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

A 17-year-old girl reads a Danielle Steel novel in her cell at the Clark County Detention Center. She has a history of being abused and working as a prostitute. "My quota -- I had to at least make between $500 and $800 a day. If I didn't, I had to stay out until I did."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Quintero drives to a group home to meet with a girl with a history of prostitution. "The girls have been sexually abused and hurt. They have been brainwashed by pimps," she said.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Quintero walks into the detention center. "I have heard girls talk about situations where they were thrown into a tub full of ice.... Graphic, really gruesome things that happen," she said.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Quintero talks with a girl who said, "Honestly, it was kind of a thrill.... I really didn't think about my health or if I was going to get killed or not -- until after I got beat."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Part of Quintero's job is to consult with prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers, group homes and the girls’ relatives to recommend where the girls should go next.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Quintero talks with a girl she's known for many years outside a Las Vegas courtroom. After a history of prostitution, the girl is planning on going to beauty school.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

"What haunts me is not knowing if [the girls] are going to be OK. Sometimes I can have all the services in place. Potentially, they can be killed out on the street," Quintero says.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Susan Roske, chief deputy public defender, left, talks with Quintero. "These children are victims. They are not criminals. They are not whores. They are victims of sexual exploitation, and they are worth saving," Roske says.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Quintero hugs one of her clients during a visit to a group home. "At 14, 15 years old, some girls are playing with Barbies and riding their bikes. These girls are being forced to sell their bodies. These are children."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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3 Comments

  1. October 7, 2011, 9:33 am

    [...] Photos: Teen prostitution in Las Vegas [...]

  2. December 18, 2011, 1:47 pm

    the only diffrence between some not all metro vice nd these gurls is smart not better, arent they also calling on these same gurls ? power alone shld not drive u making a diffrence should but in a place with only socio paths nd conformist, trained to kill with no remorse nd crusify with r without conviction r coruption, i cnt spell but i can think! nd maybie they need to open up some of those wgurl killings nd see who is really responsible ? r who really cares but some of us are diffrent we will bring resolution nd conclusion to stero types, point of views……….___

    By: chngenotpwer
  3. December 25, 2011, 4:22 pm

    This is really a waste because the court system is eager to dump those girls as soon as possible. They think a few counseling sessions are enough to reverse the influences of pimps, drugs and money in the metro area. Try getting the probation officers to do their jobs! Even when these girls get in trouble multiple times, they lock them up for a few days then hand them back to a parent or into foster care with a sarcastic “good luck!” No one really gives a damn about them and so they will never go away.

    By: HatingVegas

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