Police in Utah have rescued a 23-year-old woman who was kidnapped near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York during the Super Bowl.
According to authorities, two people have been arrested and will be charged with kidnapping, rape, human trafficking, and aggravated assault.
Police say 26-year-old Jean Joseph hit the woman repeatedly before knocking her unconscious. Then, he and Tara Pinnock kidnapped the woman, transporting her across the country.
Salt Lake City Police Department’s Sgt. Robin Heiden told media that “She’s been held in captivity this whole time and isn’t quite sure how much time has gone by. At some point, she was knocked unconscious and woke up in a different state.”
The victim was ultimately freed after she was able to call police from a Salt Lake City hotel room. According to police, the woman was forced into prostitution on the cross-country trip, including stops in Pennsylvania, Denver, and Grand Junction. They were reportedly headed to Las Vegas or California before police tracked them down.
According to officials, Salt Lake City is apparently a hot bed for sex trafficking. Alana Kindness of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Abuse tells reporter that “We’re at the crossroads of two major east and west corridors, the I-15 and I-80. We’re also surrounded by several states that as we do have lots of rural areas so we see a lot of individuals who are smuggled or trafficked into the state for labor purposes but who are also vulnerable to sexual exploitation.”
After police arrived, the woman was taken to be treated for facial injuries at a local hospital but has been released and is expected to make a full recovery.