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Letty Serrano Was Abducted And Trafficked For Sex At 13; Two Years Later She Committed Suicide

Leticia Serrano, known to her friends and family as Letty, celebrated her 15th birthday with a quinceañera party complete with a ruby-red princess gown, bouquets of roses and a dessert bar earlier, in May this year. Six months later, the teen took her own life, just two years after being drugged, abducted and abused by a sex-trafficker in Houston. 

Unfortunately, this story is not all that uncommon for victims of sex-trafficking. 

Letty’s suicide came two years after she was abducted by a sex trafficker.

credit Facebook Cynthia Rivera

Letty Serrano was a high-achieving 13 yeard old student at Marshall Middle School in 2017 when she was drugged and taken by a sex trafficker not far from her school in Houston, Texas. According to her family, Leticia’s dad and godmother Cynthia Rivera spent days searching for the teenager before they found her inside an abandoned home near Moody Park. They took her to safety and reported the captor to the police. 

Letty’s family said that the girl they brought back home was not the same girl who had left. 

“We got her back damaged,” said Rivera, Letty’s godmother. After her rescue, Letty ran away from home on two occasions, to be with her abductor. Letty took her life early Saturday morning after locking herself in the bathroom. Her father recalls doing everything he could to reach her but when he finally did, it was too late. Serrano believes Letty couldn’t get over being away from the man who trafficked her two years prior. “She wanted to be with him,” he said holding back tears in a video interview. “But, she also didn’t want to hurt her family.” 

The man was said to prey on teen’s weaknesses, taking advantage of the fact that Letty was a loner at school and that her brother had recently died. To make matters worse, the abductor and presumed sex trafficker was freed from jail 3 days after being arrested and never faced charges. “It’s a very common story, unfortunately,” said Micah Gamboa, executive director of Elijah Rising. “We see in Houston, a lot of times these pimps and these traffickers get off with just a misdemeanor or maybe deferred adjudication.” 

Sex traffic is spreading across the nation.

credit Instagram @elijahrising

The Christian-based nonprofit organization Elijah Rising, whose mission is to end sex trafficking through prayer and intervention, claims there are more than 300,000 trafficking victims in Texas. “Entire cities are becoming red-light districts. It’s no longer just a centralized or isolated issue,” she explained. “It’s actually spreading across the nation.”  According to Elijah Rising, suicide is, sadly, a common conclusion for many victims, in part, because their abusers aren’t usually caught.

Activists are trying to squash the myth that all women who work as prostitutes do so because they want to.

credit Twitter @DanielleDolor

“Prostitution isn’t people deferring entrance to Yale while they prostitute to raise money for tuition—that’s not the reality of what it looks like,” said Nicole Bell, who worked as a prostitute after being trafficked as a teen. “We’re looking at people in poverty, people of color, people coming out of the foster care system.” Human trafficking is estimated to bring in global profits of about $150 billion a year—$99 billion from sexual exploitation, according to the International Labor Organization. Nearly 9,000 cases in the U.S. were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline and BeFree Textline in 2017—a 13% increase from the prior year, according to the Polaris Project. But this data is incomplete, as cases are severely underreported.

Houston Police Deparment is looking into reopening the case of the man who abducted, drugged, and abused Letty.

Credit Facebook Cynthia Rivera

Commander Jim Dale of Houston Police Department spoke to Fox 26 about Letty’s tragic story. “I have requested an interview with my investigators so we can reopen the case,” he says this story also speaks to the need to do more in training in schools just like it’s done in the hospitality industry and transportation hubs. “She was a victim and somehow her cries fell through the cracks and I think that’s why it’s so imperative that we get the schools involved.”

Letty’s family is calling on schools to do more around suicide prevention and wants the city council to do something about the brothel where they found their little girl.

credit Facebook Cynthia Rivera

Letty’s godmother Cynthia Rivera is also calling on schools for more preventative measures. She says the family met with school officials on Tuesday afternoon. Rivera is also urging her city council district to do more about the abandoned houses, presumed brothels, where she says Letty was trafficked and, ultimately, found. “Mattresses, little girls bras, chemicals they use to drugs to mix with,” Rivera said referring to the items found in the house. “I want the community to come together,” she added. “Houston [needs] to come together and ask for these houses to be removed, torn down.”

If you or a loved one is having suicidal thoughts, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you are a victim of human trafficking or suspect someone who now is a victim, contact the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

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Meryl Streep’s Nephew Faces Felony Assault Charges After Violent Road Rage Incident Where He Attacked Latino Teen; Teen Claims Streep is ‘Racist’

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Meryl Streep’s Nephew Faces Felony Assault Charges After Violent Road Rage Incident Where He Attacked Latino Teen; Teen Claims Streep is ‘Racist’

Photos: via 7davinho/Instagram; GoFundMe

Meryl Streep’s nephew, Charles Harrison Streep, faces felony assault charges after a violent road rage altercation gave a Latino teen permanent brain damage.

The teen, whose name is David Peralta, 18, claims that Streep is “racist” and hurled racial slurs at him before attacking him in a Chase Bank parking lot in East Hampton, New York, on August 24th. Peralta’s family hails from Ecuador but he has lived in the U.S. all his life.

According to Peralta, the altercation began when Streep allegedly ran a stop sign and almost hit Peralta’s car.

Photo: via GoFundMe

Surveillance video obtained by The Daily Mail (which can be seen here) shows the two men pulling into a parking lot and appearing to exchange words out their car windows. The footage then shows Peralta getting out of his car. Streep exits his car and quickly approaches Peralta. Peralta puts his hands up in a defensive position and Streep appears to attack him.

Peralta–who was a high school wrestler–responds by grasping Streep, lifting him up, and throwing him to the ground. Streep quickly gets up and begins to strangle Peralta, lifting him up in the air in turn and throwing his body to the ground, where he begins to drag his apparently unconscious body. Streep then leaves Peralta on the ground before getting into his car and driving away.

Peralta claims that before Streep attacked him, he made racist remarks about him.

“He starts coming at me, pushing me,” Peralta recounted to The Daily Mail. “[Streep] said: ”You’re just Spanish I’m going to slam you to the ground…” Peralta says after that, he went unconscious.

In the video, Peralta stands up after the assault, holding his head and appearing dazed. According to court documents, he refused medical attention at the scene. It was only later that he was airlifted to the nearby hospital. When he arrived at the hospital, he was told that he had a brain bleed that could lead to permanent brain damage or even death. He then went into emergency surgery.

According to Peralta’s family, the teen was forced to drop out of school, where he had been studying criminal justice.

Photo: via 7davinho/Instagram

“He is staying in his room. He doesn’t want to go out,” Peralta’s mother told The East Hampton Star. “He is sad. His life is not easy now. He’s frustrated because his life changed.”

Three days after the incident, Streep was arrested on charges of second-degree assault and second-degree strangulation. Streep’s lawyers insist that it was Peralta who was the aggressor, but the footage clearly shows Streep initiating first contact.

“The level of violence is really shocking,” Peralta’s lawyer told The New York Post. “For him to take this young man’s limp body, after he had choked him unconscious and slam him on the ground…it just rises to the level of obscenity in my view.”

The East Hampton community has rallied around Peralta, with a group of his supporters appearing at the court hearing on October 8th. Streep, it should be noted, was a no-show. One of Peralta’s supporters was Alexandria Preston, 27, who believes the incident is racially motivated.

“This can easily just be viewed as just a road rage incident, or just an incident happening within the Latino community,” she told The East Hampton Star. “But no, it’s a racial incident, and it’s systemic racism.”

Another supporter told the East Hampton Star that Streep is the prime example of what unchecked privilege can do to a person. “This is a man who represents an ill in our community here of ultra-rich people, of ultra-famous names, who feels that he is above the law,” said the woman.

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Gloria Estefan Reveals She Contemplated Suicide In Her Teens In Episode of ‘Red Table Talk: The Estefans’

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Gloria Estefan Reveals She Contemplated Suicide In Her Teens In Episode of ‘Red Table Talk: The Estefans’

Photo: Lars Niki/Getty Images

In an emotional “Red Table Talk: The Estefans” episode, Gloria Estefan opened up about a particularly dark time in her life.

In the special episode dedicated to mental health, Estefan revealed to her daughter, Emily and her niece, Lili, that she once contemplated suicide as a teenager.

“I’ve always felt very good in my own skin, except when I was fifteen, and my dad had already spent a year at home and I was taking care of him. And he was heading downhill fast,” she explained on RTT.

Photo: Red Table Talk: The Estefans/ Facebook Watch

Estefan went on to describe how her mental health crisis was largely due to her father’s declining emotional state and physical health after he returned from fighting in the Vietnam War.

“Even though my father survived the Vietnam War, he still became a casualty of combat,” she said. “His exposure to ‘Agent Orange’–a poison used for warfare–resulted in his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.”

According to Estefan, being a teenaged girl having to take care of her sick father took a deep emotional toll on her.

“He lost his ability to speak, he couldn’t walk, he would stand up to try to go to the bathroom and he would fall and he would soil himself,” she said. “I would have to bathe him. He would be crying, embarrassed. And trying to make me feel better. That’s what would kill me.”

She also explained that she didn’t want to burden her loved ones with her painful feelings. “I didn’t want to tell my mother that I was starting to feel cracks in my armor. I didn’t want to tell my grandmother because I didn’t want to worry her,” she said.

Estefan was visibly emotional as she told her daughter and niece that she even had specific fantasies about taking her own life–which is one of the major warning signs of a suicidal person.

“I knew where [my father’s] gun was and I started having desperation thoughts,” she said. “I remember going to the place thinking, okay the gun is there, but what if instead I hang myself because that might be bloody? I had even picked out the tree that I might do it on.” Her daughter Lili looked distressed as Estefan recounted this painful time in her life.

Estefan says what “got her through” her suicidal episode was “thinking of other people that she loved” and how they would react to living without her. “I took myself through the whole process [of what would happen afterward],” she said. “I think it helped, for me, to imagine what life was going to be like forever for the people that I loved.”

After she got through this dark emotional period, Estefan said she got her life back by “focusing on school” and eventually meeting her husband, Emilio, which also helped bring her out of her depression.

The powerful episode aired on Wednesday and includes special guests Karla Souza and Lele Pons who also talk about their mental health battles. You can watch it on Facebook Watch here.

If you or someone you love is depressed or contemplating suicide, please don’t hesitate to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) at any time for support.

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