The Texas Attorney General’s office is under fire for its handling of a sex trafficking case, which has reportedly left victims and families feeling frustrated and abandoned.
Irma Reyes’ daughter was 16 years old when she was kept at a San Antonio motel and forced to have sex with men. The men charged with sex trafficking her daughter, Rakim Sharkey and Elijah Teel, were let off with just five years’ probation for aggravated promotion of prostitution, despite the original charges potentially carrying decades in prison. There have been years of delay, a parade of prosecutors, an aborted trial and ultimately, a stark retreat by the government.
The attorney general’s office is facing allegations of dysfunction and misconduct, including a criminal investigation by Justice Department officials in Washington. The plea deal has led victims to believe that the state’s legal troubles are undercutting justice for vulnerable victims. At this time, the attorney general’s office declined to answer questions about the deal and the actions of prosecutors.
Although complaints have been filed with the attorney general’s office, the state bar association, and the US Department of Justice, none are expected to reopen the criminal case. Reyes has since turned to therapy and hopes that one day her daughter will be ready to bring a civil lawsuit. In the wake of the case, seasoned prosecutors have resigned over practices they say were meant to slant legal work, reward loyalists, and drum out dissent.