Three women charged in alleged child sex trafficking

By KBJR News 1

October 3, 2013 Updated Oct 8, 2013 at 7:21 PM CDT

Hurley, WI (NNCNOW.com) - Three women arrested and charged in connection with an alleged child sex trafficking case in the small town of Mercer, Wisconsin have a history of prostitution and sex trafficking throughout the state.

Mercer is located 130 miles southeast of Duluth in Iron County.

"It's not just an urban problem, it can also be a rural problem and with the advent of the internet it can happen anywhere."

The problem Iron County District attorney Marty Lipske is referring to is sex trafficking and it's something that's allegedly happened in his rural Iron County community last week.

"There's nothing glorifying about this," said Iron County District Attorney Marty Lipske.

Lipske says in the early morning hours of September 27th, Iron County authorities responded to a disturbance call at a Mercer, Wisconsin motel of a teenage girl fleeing from the three women who allegedly forced the minor into prostitution.

"It turned out to be a 14-year-old runaway and she was being brought to the area by three other older women from the Milwaukee area and brought up to the Northwoods to take part in a meeting with an elderly gentlemen," said Lipske.

According to the criminal complaint, 28-year-old Nikia Burchette, 23-year-old Tamyra Thomas and 18-year-old Tanya Brown, who have each been charged with four felony counts including trafficking of a 14 year old child, were involved in at least nine acts of prostitution in other rural Wisconsin communities over a two-week span.

"They were arrested and the primary charges are trafficking a child, human trafficking and physical abuse of a child," said Lipske.

The complaint says a 67-year-old Mercer Wisconsin man responded to an escort service ad placed on Backpage.com on September 25, agreeing to pay $300 in travel expenses for the girl to come to his home and another thousand dollars to stay with him overnight.

The complaint says the man only engaged in kissing the 14-year-old and providing wine.

Malinda Peterson with DOVE an Iron County domestic violence escape program says this incident is the first of its kind in the area and people need to be aware.

"It's not only happening within the United States, but it's happening in the state of Wisconsin and unfortunately it's happened here in our community of Iron County," said Peterson.

And as the three women await their fate, authorities and advocates continue their work to educate and prevent sex trafficking in their community.

The juvenile has been relocated to the Milwaukee area with assistance from protective services.

Charges are pending against the man for soliciting sex to a minor.

The women are expected to be back in court early next week.

Jeremy Brickley
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