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Man held on kidnapping, pimping charges

October 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A missing 14-year-old girl has been found, but L.A. police suspect her disappearance may be linked to a man suspected of abducting young teenage girls and forcing them into lives of prostitution. Leroy Bragg,34, sits in jail denying charges that he kidnapped and then solicited for prostitution at least two teenage girls. The latest victim was found safe Friday after asking strangers for help on the street.

"She starting using and contacting several Good Samaritans, asking to use their phone," said LAPD Captain Ann Young. "So one Good Samaritan allowed her to use his cell phone, of which she called her mother and her mother subsequently called the police department."

The unidentified 14-year-old girl ran away from home two months ago. Police say she met Bragg a short time later, at which point he coerced her into working the streets, including southwest Los Angeles.

It was during a police investigation at 41st St. and Western Ave. when detectives spotted at least one other underage prostitute also believed to be a victim of Bragg's.

The two girls told police that Bragg forced them to sell their bodies and at times even held them captive. Police say what they describe is not an uncommon situation.

"It's a very serious problem that we have in Los Angeles, especially with young women and young men that run away from home for whatever reason, they run away," said Young. "It's very traumatic. Remember, these young women are still 13 and 14 years old."

Bragg was arrested September 28. He's pleaded not guilty to all charges and is being held on $1.3 million bail. The investigation is ongoing and detectives say there are potentially other Bragg victims out there that they hope will come forward.


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