LAPD seeks more victims in South L.A. teenage prostitution case
Los Angeles police said Monday they believe a convicted felon from Hawthorne who forced at least two runaway girls to work as prostitutes in South L.A. has many additional victims, and they asked anyone with information to come forward.
Leroy Bragg, 34, was arrested after the family of a 13-year-old Hawthorne girl contacted the LAPD and told police she was being held against her will, said Capt. Ann Young.
The LAPD subsequently learned that Bragg was also holding a 14-year-old girl from Upland against her will in the same South L.A. location, Young said.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office charged Bragg with multiple felony counts, including human trafficking involving a minor, soliciting for a minor prostitute under 16, pandering by procuring a minor under 16 and first-degree burglary.
Additional charges were expected, according to prosecutors.
At a news conference at the downtown LAPD headquarters, officials declined to discuss specifics of the case, including the manner in which the girls were held and where they were held captive.
The case grew out of an investigation by LAPD vice detectives examining whether local motels were catering to prostitution and properly documenting guests as required, Young said.
Investigators initially made contact with one of the girls Sept. 23 near 41st Street and Western Avenue but did not "connect the dots" until days later when one of the victims used the cellphone of a Good Samaritan to call her parents, Young said.
Bragg had been held in jail on an unrelated weapons charge but was released, authorities said. After a foot chase through backyards, he was re-arrested last week by Hawthorne police in connection with the prostitution case.
Young said Bragg may have victimized dozens of women and girls.
Anyone with information is asked to call LAPD Det. Hector Sanchez at (213) 486-0957. After hours they can call 1-877-LAPD-24-7. For those wishing to remain anonymous, the Crime Stoppers number is (800) 222-TIPS, or (800) 222-8477.
Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most key pads) using a cellphone. All text messages should begin with the letters "LAPD."
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Leroy Bragg. Credit: LAPD