HAWTHORNE (AP) — The father of a missing 14-year-old girl says his daughter has been associated with a man suspected of kidnapping young girls and forcing them into prostitution.
Peter Doesburg of Upland in San Bernardino County told The Daily Breeze of Torrance Thursday that he believes his daughter was abducted by Leroy Bragg, 34, while she was in Los Angeles a few months ago.
Vice officers arrested Bragg on Tuesday after a foot chase. He pleaded not guilty Thursday to trafficking of a minor, solicitation and other crimes in the abduction of another 13-year-old girl. He was being held on $1.3 million bail.
Upland police said Thursday they don’t have evidence that Bragg kidnapped Doesburg’s daughter, but believe she was abducted by people she knew.
“These subjects are believed to be associated with a group of individuals from the Los Angeles area involved in the exploitation and prostitution of young girls,” Upland police Sgt. Greg Signorio said in a statement.
Doesburg said she was arrested last week in Los Angeles and returned home, but disappeared again because Bragg allegedly made threats toward her family if she did not return to work for him. He said she might not be aware that Bragg is in jail.
“Come home,” Doesburg said. “Everything’s OK and we will protect you. You’ve got nothing to worry about.”
She described living in apartments with other girls who have been forced to meet with men for money and were beaten if they could not meet their quotas, he said.
Detective Hector Sanchez told The Daily Breeze that Bragg is suspected in a number of kidnappings and the investigation into his activities has the “potential to be a human trafficking investigation” involving multiple teens.
“It’s disheartening,” the father said. “You have your dreams for your little girls. Not six months ago, we were talking about how she was going to the charter school and wanted to go to school and college.”
Signorio said a 20-member team went door-to-door in Hawthorne Wednesday night in an effort to find the girl.
“They are brainwashing these young children,” Signorio said. “We just want to get her back. She is in danger.”
The FBI has joined the investigation.
(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)