HOUSTON - A Houston father is on a mission to stiffen penalties against sex traffickers.
He says his teenage daughter was lured into the trade through social media app Snapchat.
“There was trouble lurking out there,” said John Clark. “We had no idea how bad it is,” he added. The energy executive was hesitant about sharing his story due to his daughter’s ongoing trauma.
“What happened is very private, and embarrassing, and humiliating,” said Clark. Clark says she was groomed via Snapchat, starting at age 16, by a man in his 20’s. They later met in person at a party.
Clark says she then disappeared.
“It was completely out of left field,” said Clark. “Never could have seen it coming,” he added.
Like in the movie “Taken,” Clark tells KHOU 11 he used private resources to help track down his daughter and her alleged captor at a Houston apartment building.
“And it’s nothing against the police,” said Clark. “It’s just they’re not set up to do that, they’re set up to slowly, methodically build an airtight case,” he added. “And in the time it would’ve taken to build an airtight case, I would’ve lost my daughter,” said Clark.
Clark’s daughter is now in a residential therapy program. Meanwhile, her dad just started an online petition aimed at strengthening anti-human trafficking laws.
“In the petition I’ve written, I’ve given specifics on criminals who’ve been pursued, arrested, prosecuted, and convicted,” said Clark. “And get nothing,” he added.
He hopes to collect 100,000 signatures in order to ensure his message about the sex trade is unquestionably solid.
“What’s the risk, what’s happening, and what we can do to try and protect families better,” said Clark.
According to court records, his daughter’s alleged captor pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution of a minor.
(© 2016 KHOU)