NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Trial has begun in Tennessee for seven Somali defendants and two others charged with roles in a multi-state child sex trafficking ring.
In opening statements Monday, a federal prosecutor told jurors they would hear testimony showing a suburban Minneapolis sixth-grader of Somali descent was led into prostitution through force and fraud. The prosecutor said the girl, identified only as Jane Doe No. 2, was used to perform sex acts in Minnesota and Tennessee.
Defense attorneys said the girl was a runaway who freely engaged in sex and lied about it to her culturally conservative Somali family.
The start of trial in Nashville had been delayed previously as the court sorted through issues within the Somali refugee communities and questions about the age and identity of defendants and witnesses.