SALT LAKE CITY — Two people have been arrested in the case of a woman who police say was kidnapped in New York and brought to Salt Lake City as part of a human trafficking ring.
Late Monday afternoon, Salt Lake City police announced the arrests of Jean Joseph, 26, of New York, and Tara L. Pinnock, 24, of Albany, N.Y. They were booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated human trafficking and kidnapping.
Pinnock, who is accused of arranging prostitution clients for the victim, was arrested earlier this year in Connecticut as part of an effort to crack down on prostitution before the Super Bowl, according to a news release from Connecticut state police on Feb. 3. She was among nine people arrested as part of Operation Recovered Innocence.
"The operation was conducted in an effort to recover victims of child prostitution, which was in support of a larger FBI effort in the tri-state area to combat child prostitution during Super Bowl week," the release stated.
Four underage girls were rescued as part of that operation.
About 9:30 p.m. Sunday, dispatchers in Salt Lake City received a call from a 23-year-old woman who claimed she was kidnapped in Manhattan, N.Y., near the port authority about two or three weeks ago and forced into prostitution.
The woman told detectives she was abducted on a New York street, forced into a vehicle and beaten, said Salt Lake City Police Sgt. Robin Heiden.
"Joseph reportedly struck the victim three times, causing the victim to lose consciousness," according to a Salt Lake County Jail report. "The victim sustained a very large distended swollen eye/facial area and a half-inch scar."
When she woke up after being beaten to unconsciousness, she was in Pennsylvania, Heiden said. They continued moving west, and she was sexually assaulted twice in Chicago, the report stated. The group also made stops in Denver, Grand Junction, Colo., and Salt Lake City, where the woman was "forced to engage in prostitution" in each of those cities, the jail report stated.
The woman told police she tried to escape while in Denver but was unsuccessful.
In Salt Lake City on Sunday, the woman tried to escape again and this time was able to run free, Heiden said. The woman had a cellphone and called 911. When officers responded to the area of 110 West and 600 South, they found the woman hiding behind a post. She was taken to a local hospital where doctors found evidence of old injuries, Heiden said.
After she was interviewed by detectives, investigators found a man matching the description of the man suspected of trafficking her, Heiden said. That man, Joseph, was questioned for several hours before being arrested.6 comments on this story
Pinnock was arrested for allegedly acting as a guard over the woman, according to the jail report. She also "placed advertisements that resulted in prostitution, and completed telephone calls that resulted in prostitution between clients and the victims."
Police were still looking Monday for the suspect's vehicle, a newer four-door black Mercedes-Benz with a New Jersey or Virginia license plate.
Neither Joseph nor Pinnock have any previous criminal history in Utah, according to state court records.