The Dallas Mavericks are showing up in articles about human trafficking thanks to an alleged abduction taking place at one of their games.
A lawyer representing the 15-year-old victim and her family is saying she “should never have had contact with the man at the Mavericks game,” in addition to criticizing arena security and Dallas police for their limited response to the incident, inside the arena and beyond. That could potentially lead to arena security protocol changes for the Mavericks, and perhaps even for other professional sports teams.
As per Mary Papenfuss of The Huffington Post, all of this started when a 15-year-old girl attended a Mavericks game on April 8 with her father. She left him to use the restroom and was found 10 days later in an Oklahoma City hotel room. Local police found the girl following assistance from the non-profit Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative, which tracked down nude images of her on a website used for prostitution.
Six women and two men were arrested in connection with the case earlier this month, and charged with offenses ranging from rape to human trafficking and distribution of child pornography to offering to engage in prostitution to outstanding warrants.
Here’s a report on those arrests last month from Oklahoma City NBC affiliate KFOR:
The family’s lawyer, Zeke Fortenberry, put out a statement earlier this month questioning the actions of the Dallas police in particular, but also raising questions about what happened with the response at the game.
Audrey Conklin of Fox News has more on the claims against the Dallas Police Department, and their response, which includes them searching the arena for the girl:
After the girl left to use the bathroom at the AAC and did not return, her father “immediately notified AAC security, staff, and Dallas [p]olice [o]fficers of her disappearance.” By the time the game ended, she “had not been found,” and her father was instructed to return home.
Fortenberry says the Dallas Police Department (DPD) never opened an investigation into the case despite multiple pleas from the victim’s parents.
“My daughter was missing in Dallas, this is a Dallas case, but they refused to open a case for her,” the girl’s father said of the DPD.
The DPD told Fox News Digital that an officer at the April 8 Mavericks game was notified of the 15-year-old’s disappearance and searched the event and location that night. Beyond that, the department pointed to Texas Family Code (51.03 b. 3), which “dictates that missing juveniles are investigated as runaways unless there are circumstances which appear as involuntary such as a kidnapping or abduction.”
“Those cases per code are to be filed where the juvenile resides,” the department said. “A report was generated by Dallas Police and Dallas Police assisted the North Richland Hills Police Department (lead agency as that was where the teen resided) and a bulletin about the missing teen was created and went out to the department on April 11, 2022.”
Whether this leads to anything actually changing with arena security and/or their interfacing with local police is uncertain at this point. There’s presumably a lot of information here that isn’t public yet on exactly how the girl was abducted without anyone intervening, and how exactly the Dallas police responded. But this certainly isn’t the kind of story any sports team wants out there about something that happened at one of their games.