DENVER, CO (NBC) - A Denver mother allegedly forced her 13-year-old daughter and her 13-year-old friend to have sex with gang members and criminals in exchange for drugs and money, according to law enforcement officials and neighbors.
"These are horrible accusations," said Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney's office. "They're very serious, they're very disturbing and we'll go forward with these charges at this time and be an advocate for victims."
The Denver District Attorney's office charged the 33-year-old woman Tuesday with keeping a place of prostitution, pimping of a child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and pandering.
The mother has denied any wrongdoing.
The men, who were mostly gang members, would pay the mother in crack cocaine, methamphetamine or cash, according to the Denver District Attorney's office. The mother used the money to buy drugs for herself and drugs and alcohol for the girls in her apartment in west Denver.
Denver Police have arrested an upstairs neighbor who allegedly had sex with the girls and are tracking down other customers.
Upstairs neighbor Ronald Leslie Webster, 53, was charged Wednesday with two counts of sexual assault on a child, pattern of abuse, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, possession of drugs, distribution and possession of drugs with intent to distribute.
Webster has a lengthy criminal history including burglary, rape and homicide. He has bailed out of jail in this case on $100,000 bond.
"We are accusing them of not only providing a place of prostitution, but of allowing and encouraging these girls to have sex with men in exchange for cocaine, for meth and for money, which all leads back to the mother," Kimbrough said.
Webster did not return calls for comment.
According to witnesses, one of the girls exchanged sex for drugs or money about 100 times since she was 13. She charged the men $40 to $60. In exchange for having sex with the men, the mother gave the girls food, clothes, shoes, shelter and drugs.
One of the girls went along with the prostitution because she was afraid her friend or her friend's mother would beat her up, sources tell 9Wants to Know.
Police say the mother smoked meth and crack with the girls.
The prostitution lasted at least five months, according to law enforcement. Both girls are now 14 years old and in custody of Adams County Social Services. One of the girls is pregnant.
Recovery for the girls is expected to be long and hard.
"It's likely these girls will have long-term affects from something like this, especially since it happened at the hands of their caregiver, the person who was supposed to keep them safe and protected," said Becky Bethards, senior child and family therapist for the Denver Children's Advocacy Center. "They're likely to have challenges rated to peers, being a teenager, creating long-lasting relationships and are at risk for substance abuse."
Court records show the mother has five children; all of them have been removed from her custody.
The mother and Webster face eight to 12 years in prison for each felony charge against them.
Neighbors tell 9Wants to Know they suspected what was happening inside the apartment, but none of them called social services.
"They were cooking crystal meth all the time and the smell was so overwhelming I had to leave," neighbor Roger Day-Davies said.
Child advocates say it is everybody's duty to call a crisis hotline if they think children are in danger.
"If you don't call, no one will," Bethards said. "You should do something about it if you have a concern; you might be the only person who makes that phone call for that child."
To report suspected child abuse or neglect, you can call the Denver County Crisis hotline at 720-944-3000 or the Denver Children's Advocacy Center at 303-825-3850.
In 2009, the Children's Advocacy Center helped 1,000 children in Denver with counseling and treatment, with no charge to the parents.
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