Rochester Man Arrested for Sex Trafficking in Western New York

12:13 AM, Feb 25, 2012   |    comments
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Thomas Cramer, 40, of Brighton, N.Y. is facing federal charges for sex trafficking minors.

BUFFALO, N.Y.- A Rochester area man is facing federal charges for sex trafficking minors, allegedly enticing them into prostitution that took place at several hotels in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, as well as his home.

40-year-old Thomas Cramer, of Brighton, N.Y. Is facing a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life, a $250,000 fine, or both.

Cramer's alleged victims are six teenagers, most of whom are from Western New York, according to U.S. Attorney William Hochul, Jr.

One of the hotels listed in the complaint is the Holiday Inn on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. 

Hochul says Cramer enticed the girls to become prostitutes. The complaint alleges at least one was as young as 15, and that the customers were charged between $150 and $220 an hour to engage in sexual activities with the teenagers.  Cramer received a portion of the proceeds.

One victim in the complaint said she was "influenced" and "forced" because she was never able to make her own appointments, and she didn't have the option to accept or deny them.

"On some occasions Mr.Cramer went to some social media sites that teenage girls happen to be on and then would engage in texting," said Hochul. "One allegation involving one young girl indicates that there might have been as many as 125 different text messages from Mr. Cramer to the young victim trying to get the victim to engage in conduct."

Hochul says there are claims Cramer threatened the girls physically if they tried to go to police.

It is a story that is all too common in Western New York, according to Deputy Elizabeth Fildes, who heads up Erie County's Human Trafficking Task Force. Fildes says this is just the latest example of a disturbing trend here: a crime that is both misunderstood and often misidentified.

"People seem to have an idea that it's about people in other countries," said Fildes.

But while many of the 200 people she's helped rescue in the past few are foreign nationals, Fildes says there are some victims born and raised here, as well as trafficked here.

"{They're} showing up in Grand Island, showing up in Cheektowaga, showing up in Buffalo, New York in some of the finer hotels," said Fildes. "Yes, it's here, and very much alive."

She says law enforcement looks for three things when identifying potential victims: Force, fraud and coercion.

"I think we've just scraped the surface," said Fildes of the victims rescued in this area. "We're not anywhere near what could really be found if we started to really dig."

Human trafficking also includes forced labor and sexual exploitation. 

Additional Resources:

*The United Nations has a definition of human trafficking. 

*For information for victims of human trafficking, contact the International Institute of Buffalo.


*The Polaris Project

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