Updated: 03/27/2013 6:17 PM
Created: 03/27/2013 3:32 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen
A warning for parents about the very real dangers of social media and human trafficking. A Brighton man pleaded guilty to recruiting underage girls to engage in prostitution.
I-Team 10 has been following the case of Thomas Cramer since his arrest last year.
Child advocates say it's time for people to wake up and realize that sex trafficking of teenagers is happening in our own backyard. Prosecutors believe the Cramer case can be an opportunity for parents to talk to their children and help keep them safe.
U.S. Attorney William Hochul said, "Thanks to today's conviction, Mr. Cramer now will face a very long time in jail."
Thomas Cramer has spent much of his adult life in prison. It now appears he will spend much of the rest of it there as well.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Rogowski said, "Quite frankly, he very candidly admitted that his activities were very widespread and in fact had difficulty remembering specifics because there were so many activities in which he was involved."
According to court papers, the girls worked for Cramer as prostitutes, their ages ranging from 15 to 17. The activities took place in Cramer's home in Brighton and in hotels in Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo. Authorities say he preyed on runaways and drug users.
Hochul said, "Men who are engaged in prostitution are only too willing to use girls who are perhaps trying to escape what they think are difficulties but have no idea of the hell that awaits them if they go down this road."
Cramer advertised the girls services on backpage.com. The U.S. attorney says it is today's technology that has made it much easier for people like Cramer to lure girls into this type of lifestyle.
Hochul said, “And today with the prevalence of cell phones and iPhones that can connect to the internet just from somebody's pocket or their mobile device, these young people are more vulnerable than ever to defendants like Thomas Cramer."
Prosecutors say the Cramer case should be a wake up call to parents..
Rogowski said, "It's important to have parents and family discuss, and among friends, discuss what's going on and help put a stop to it."
Under the court guidelines, Cramer will likely face between 24 and 36 years behind bars.
If you or someone you know is a victim of trafficking, the justice department has a number you can call to get help. The hotline number is 888-428-7581. There is also a website where victims can reach out for help.