Queens Man Forced Runaways Into Prostitution, Prosecutors Say

New York Times

A Queens man has been charged with forcing two runaway girls, ages 13 and 15, into prostitution on the streets of Jamaica after beating and raping them, prosecutors said yesterday.

Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, said in a statement that the man, Barrington Heffenden, 30, of 114-22 158th Street in Jamaica, forced the two girls to have sex with scores of men.

A law enforcement official said Mr. Heffenden “sent them on the street without condoms, so every sexual encounter was a brush with death,” a law enforcement official said.

Mr. Heffenden’s lawyer, Michael Paul, said his client was not involved in prostitution, and knew the girls only as houseguests of a co-defendant in the case, a 16-year-old girl who was charged, as an adult, with kidnapping and promoting prostitution.

Mr. Paul said Mr. Heffenden believed the two younger girls were 18, and had loaned one of them his cellphone to call her home in Suffolk County after she ran away. “She made up a story to whoever she was talking to that she had been kidnapped, and that led to his arrest,” he said.

Mr. Brown said the girls worked at Sutphin Boulevard and South Road, an area where an active prostitution market still appeared to be operating last night. Cars idled on the corner, and women frequently approached and entered the cars.

“We see them up and down this street all the time, but we’ve witnessed this in the area for a long time,” said a woman leaving the Rehoboth Apostolic Church on the corner, declining to give her her name.

The 15-year-old girl ran away from home in Suffolk County on Jan. 5, and called her former classmate, the 16-year-old, who lived with Mr. Heffenden, to ask for a place to stay, the law enforcement official said. Mr. Heffenden, the official said, had also forced the 16-year-old into prostitution.

Mr. Heffenden raped the 15-year-old when she arrived, and turned her out to the street, the law enforcement official said. The girl was finally able to escape to a Brooklyn station house last week, the official said.

The 13-year-old, from the Bronx, met Mr. Heffenden last September, but it was unclear how, the authorities said. She, too, was a runaway, and he made her charge $50 to $100 for sex with up to seven men a night, the district attorney said.