Super Bowling for Dollars
The push by advocates to gain publicity at any cost often involves local law enforcement. Once again, the Super Bowl became a platform to push a religious agenda and bogus numbers.
Last November, Dallas Police Sgt. Louis Felini was quoted predicting that up to 100,000 prostitutes would descend on the city for the Super Bowl.
"We believe, without a doubt, that God gave us the Super Bowl this year to raise awareness of what's happening with these kids," Deena Graves, executive director of Traffick 911, a local Christian group, told the Dallas Morning News.
Into this frothy mix of panic stepped the Women's Funding Network's Dallas affiliate. The WFN stirred up the fear even more by releasing a Texas edition of the bogus Schapiro Group study.
Becky Sykes, the chair of the Dallas Women's Foundation, told the Dallas Morning News that the study's January release was timed "to focus public attention on the problem because underage girls will be brought to Dallas and sold into prostitution during the Super Bowl."
Like its sister studies in Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, and New York, the Texas report relied on guessing the ages of women in online photographs accompanying classified ads.
And it came up with the same outlandish conclusion of a local sex trafficking epidemic: 740 Texas teens were sold for sex in one month, according to the research.
But the hard data afterward told a far different story: Police reported that the massive dragnet, involving multiple jurisdictions and the FBI, produced just 105 prostitution arrests—and only two involving juveniles.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.