Teen Found in Berkeley May Be Victim of Sex Trafficking: Police

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police in at least two cities are investigating after a teenage girl told them she was robbed and kidnapped from an unknown location and dropped off in Berkeley early Wednesday. The girl also told neighbors she had been raped and pepper-sprayed. Police are investigating whether she was part of a sex trafficking ring. Jodi Hernandez reports

    The San Francisco Police Department has taken over the case of the teenage girl, who told authorities she was robbed and kidnapped from an unknown location and dropped off in Berkeley early Wednesday. The girl also told neighbors she had been raped and pepper-sprayed.

    San Francisco police confirmed that the girl is 16 years old. The girl told police that she was forced into a car somewhere in San Francisco. Investigators with the Special Victims Unit are looking at a couple of possible locations she could have been taken from.

    The girl is currently recovering at home with her parents, police said.

    Police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said Wednesday that the girl said she was dropped off in the 2900 block of Piedmont in Berkeley about 6:21 a.m.

    Berkeley police said the girl indicated she was sexually assaulted.

    Police later said that the girl had been kidnapped from an unknown location in the Bay Area and may be a victim of human sex trafficking, though no details were released to support that allegation.

    But neighbors who live in the Elmwood District of Berkeley say they were awakened early Wednesday by the screams of a girl shouting, "Help me!"

    When they ran outside, they found the teen sitting naked on the sidewalk. "She was screaming, 'Help me, help!' And when we got closer she said, 'I can't see. I've been pepper-sprayed; I can't see," said Senobar Lanigan, who came to her aid.

    Lanigan said she gave the girl water to wash out her eyes and a blanket to cover up. "She had not even shoes. It looked like she'd been dropped from the stars, completely naked," she said.

    Lanigan says the girl told her she'd been raped. "'I was raped. Somebody raped me,' she said, 'Somebody raped me,' " Lanigan recounted.

    Dana MacDermott heard the screams, too, and can't stop thinking about the girl.

    "It's disturbing, and I hope she's alright, whatever the story is. Whatever happened, I hope she's alright," she said.