COLUMBIA TWP. (HAMILTON COUNTY), Ohio -- A woman arrested Wednesday is accused of helping her friend's underage daughter create a web account for prostitution and sharing a hotel room with the girl, leaving at times so the girl could have sex for hire.
The allegations against Erica Louise Hubbard are outlined in Hamilton County court documents. Hubbard, 38, is charged with compelling prostitution.
According to an affidavit from Hamilton County Detective Donald Minnich, the investigation into Hubbard dates to mid-July. At the time, the affidavit says, she shared a room with the 17-year-old girl at a Days Inn on Ridge Avenue.
Hubbard helped the teen set up an account on backpage.com "in order for the minor to engage in prostitution," Minnich's affidavit states.
"The minor was a runaway and Erica was a former friend of the minor's mother," it also states.
Online prostitution is an issue experts like Erin Meyers, an anti-human trafficking program coordinator with the Salvation Army, says is all too prevalent.
Meyers said the average sex-worker recruit is between 13 and 15 years old.
“It’s a time when we’re starting to be adults and defy our parents,” Meyers said. “There’s a lot of vulnerability we’re kind of uncomfortable with who we are, and I think traffickers exploit that.”
The latest data from the Ohio Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force shows, in Ohio alone, roughly 3,000 minors work in the sex industry, almost always as a last resort, usually recruited by someone they know.
The task force’s southwest Ohio Director Lt. Chris Ruehmer, who also works in the Cincinnati Police Department’s vice division, said authorities have vowed to stem this emerging trend.
"We will set up decoys — the police will actually put an ad on Backpage and let the johns contact us,” Ruehmer said.
That’s precisely how Hubbard was caught, now charged with compelling prostitution.
But Meyer emphasized that the most important thing to remember is that, even in these sorts of situations, there is still help.
“It takes a community to really get rid of this problem,” she said.
Police say anyone who knows anyone dealing with a similar situation can call the Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Hotline, at 513-800-1863.