One gay teen tells how he ended up in the clutches of sexual predators — and of how he escaped
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 20 percent of the homeless youth in this country are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Of those, NCHP says, 58.7 percent have been sexually victimized.
“Johnny” is one of those in the 58.7 percent.
Dallas Voice is using a pseudonym for the young man in this story to protect his identity because he is a victim of a sex crime.
At 17, Johnny had just finished his junior year in high school when, he said, his mother kicked him out of the house after finding out that he is gay. While religious objections prompt some parents to throw their LGBT children out, Johnny said that wasn’t the case with his mother. She just didn’t want him living in her house if there was a possibility he would be having unsafe sex with a lot of different people.
“She didn’t want me to have sex with a lot of people,” Johnny said. “She was worried about my health and safety. If anything happened to me, she didn’t want to be responsible.”
And, he added, he wasn’t willing to tell her where he was going each time he went out. He didn’t want to follow her rules.
So Johnny moved out of his suburban Dallas home and moved in with a man in Oak Lawn he met on Grindr. He had a plan: He was going to dance for money to help pay the rent.
“I walked into a bar with almost no clothes on,” he said. “I got on a box and started dancing and made lots of money.”
Then Ryan Uresti, 24, the roommate of the man Johnny was staying with, posted a new profile for the young man on
Grindr. Uresti, Johnny said, “found me someone. [But] the guy I was set up with turned out to be a police investigator.”
Or at least that’s what 46-year-old Matthew Bourasa told Johnny. Bourasa claimed he and his roommate, Kourtlyn
Turpin, 21, were police officers, and Bourasa threatened to arrest Johnny for prostitution, the young man said. But, he added, Bourasa told Johnny they wouldn’t arrest him if he agreed to live with them.
What Johnny didn’t know at the time, according to police, was that Uresti actually sold Johnny to Bourasa as a sex slave.
At first, Johnny thought he had a good relationship with Bourasa and Turpin during the six weeks he lived there. Now he realizes that the two men spent those six weeks brainwashing him.
Bourasa, who worked during the day, presented himself to Johnny as a father figure. He would bring home other homeless boys who were allegedly hustlers, and have them talk to Johnny. “He let me talk to them about how prostitution wasn’t the way to go,” Johnny said.
Those young men would stay the night, then leave the next day.
At first, Johnny continued to dance in bars. But Bourasa made him stop. “He said it was dangerous for me,” Johnny recalled. But he knows now that wasn’t the real reason: “He thought I wouldn’t come home.”
So Johnny got other jobs, first at Hunky’s and then at Thairrific. Either Bourasa or Turpin would drive Johnny to work, giving them yet more control over the young man.
Thairrific owner Danny Sikora said Johnny said something to a coworker soon after he started working at the restaurant that made Sikora realize there was definitely something strange about the young man’s living arrangements. And the longer Johnny worked there, the more he revealed.
The tipping point came on Johnny’s 18th birthday. He said that neither Bourasa nor Turpin had touched him sexually up until that time. But when he turned 18, he said, the men raped him. And Bourasa raped him more than once, he said.
Then one of Johnny’s coworkers at Thairrific did an Internet search and discovered that not only was Bourasa not a police officer, he was a sex offender with a record dating back to 1992.
That, Johnny said, was when everything changed.
Sikora called Amanda Robinson, who runs the youth organization Real Live Connection, and told her what he thought was happening. Robinson responded immediately. Johnny said he left his laptop, textbooks and clothes at Bourasa’s and left the restaurant that night with Robinson.
“Amanda was an angel to me,” Johnny said. “Amanda called the police, and I agreed to press charges.”
Justice in the works
After Robinson called police, Bourasa, Turpin and Uresti were arrested.
Bourasa has been held in Dallas County jail since Oct. 30 on $400,000 bond. He’s charged with impersonating a police officer, two counts of sexual assault and trafficking of a person under 18 for prostitution or forced labor.
Turpin is being held in Dallas County jail on $300,000 bond, charged with impersonating a public servant, sexual assault and trafficking a person. He’s also on hold from other jurisdictions for burglary and an unpaid traffic violation.
Uresti is charged with trafficking and is out of jail on a $100,000 bond.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, so far this year there have been 2,793 reported cases of human trafficking in the U.S. California had the highest number of reported cases, with 477. Texas came in second with 214 cases.
Of those cases, 2,084 were sex trafficking cases, 377 labor trafficking cases, 242 were unspecified and 90 were labor and sex combined. Of the victims, 2,339 were female and 321 were male; 1,757 were adults and 881 were minors; 797 were U.S. citizens, and 534 were foreign nationals.
The FBI’s website lists a number of “enduring myths about human trafficking,” and debunks them.
For one, individuals don’t have to be taken from one country to another to be victims of human trafficking, and anti-trafficking laws don’t require that victims be transported from one place to another. And despite common belief,
U.S. citizens can be victims of human trafficking, and as the statistics noted earlier prove, they often are.
Victims are sometimes paid, though not very much, the FBI notes.
Victims of human trafficking often have no idea what they are getting into, according to the FBI. They are duped into cooperating with their captors and then they don’t try to escape even if they have the chance because they have been threatened or they don’t understand the law. In Johnny’s case, even though he was allowed to move about freely — going to work, for example — he returned to his captor’s each day because he thought he had no choice; he believed they were police officers and that if he did not return, he would be sent to jail for prostitution.
Back on track
For his part, Johnny is working to get his life back on track.
Robinson said while the LGBT community has been trying to keep the adult community in Oak Lawn safe from attackers targeting the community in recent weeks, LGBT youth face violence all the time.
“They’re taken advantage of and preyed on,” she said of the community’s young people.
Once Johnny was safe from immediate harm, Robinson pulled together some of her resources to get him the help he needed. When Johnny blamed himself for what happened, Robinson had him write about his feelings and emotions.
When she read what he had written, she told him: “I’m not a counselor, but I know broken.”
Then she set about arranging counseling for the young man.
Robinson also brought Johnny and his mother back together. They’ve reconciled now, and he’s moved back home, an ending that Robinson said, while happy, is unusual.
Johnny said he knows that “being close to the bars was not good for me,” and living in the suburbs provides less temptation to go out. But when he does go out, he said, he tells his mother where he’s going.
Johnny also promised to finish high school. He’s been studying at home and should graduate in January. Then he’ll take advanced placement tests in May and plans to go to college.
Things are working out well, Johnny said, just because he is willing to do some simple things and follow a few rules his mother has laid out. He said he and his mother talk now — but not about what happened to him during the time he was gone.
“I’m just not ready to talk with her about it,” he said.
Johnny said that while he wants to keep his identity secret, he wanted to tell his story in hopes that other LGBT youth can learn from his experience and avoid making the same mistakes he made.
“There are better resources than prostitution,” Johnny said, pointing to Promise House in Oak Cliff for homeless youth and other shelters as places youth can stay if they’re kicked out of their homes.
Johnny admitted that he still dances in the bars some, but he offered this warning to others considering that course:
“Dancing doesn’t have to lead to anything else, but a lot of times it does. You have to grow up pretty quickly.”
2015 Human Trafficking Statistics
Type No. of cases
Sex trafficking: 2,084
Labor trafficking: 377
Not specified: 242
Sex and labor: 90
Total cases: 2,793
Cases in Texas: 214
(Second to California with 477)
Minor : 881
Myths about human trafficking
Be aware of these enduring myths about human trafficking:
Myth: Trafficking must involve the crossing of borders.
Fact: Despite the use of the word “trafficking,” victims can actually be held within their own country—anti-trafficking laws don’t require that victims must have traveled from somewhere else.
Myth: U.S. citizens can’t be trafficked.
Fact: They can and they are.
Myth: Victims know what they are getting into or have chances to escape.
Fact: They’re actually duped into it and may not even think of escaping because of threats against them or ignorance of the law.
Myth: Victims are never paid.
Fact: Sometimes they are paid, but not very much.
Myth: Victims never have freedom of movement.
Fact: Some victims can move about, but are coerced into always returning, perhaps with a threat against their families back home.
One last note: Human trafficking is often confused with alien smuggling, which includes those who consent to smuggling to get across a border illegally.
— from the FBI
— from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center
from The National Coalition for the Homeless, June 2009
• 20 percent of homeless youth are LGBT. In comparison, the general youth population is only 10 percent LGBT.
• While homeless youth typically experience severe family conflict as the primary reason for their homelessness, LGBT youth are twice as likely to experience sexual abuse before the age of 12.
• LGBT youth, once homeless, are at higher risk for victimization, mental health problems, and unsafe sexual practices. 58.7 percent of LGBT homeless youth have been sexually victimized, compared to 33.4 percent of heterosexual homeless youth.
• LGBT youth are roughly 7.4 times more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than heterosexual homeless youth.
• LGBT homeless youth commit suicide at higher rates (62 percent) than heterosexual homeless youth (29 percent).
from Sex Trafficking of LGBT Youth
Posted on Nov, 11, 2013 by Michelle Lillie, at HumanTraffickingSearch.net
• 46 percent of homeless LGBT youth report running away from home due to family rejection of their sexual orientation, and 17 percent ended up on the streets after they aged out of the foster care system.
• Within 48 hours of running away, 1 in 3 homeless youth will be recruited by a trafficker into commercial sexual exploitation.
LGBT Youth and Victimization
• LGBT youth who face discrimination, name-calling and abuse in their childhood are more likely to have low self-esteem and higher rates of mental health problems. Traffickers are known to prey on the financially destitute, the young and vulnerable and those with previous experiences of abuse.
• The Center for American Progress put out a report indicating that young men who have sex with men (gay or bisexual youth) are more likely to be forced into prostitution than any other youth population. This becomes apparent when looking at arrest statistics where 1 percent of heterosexual boys are detained for prostitution, compared with 10 percent of their gay or bisexual peers.
• A study in Canada found that youth who identify as LGBT were 3 times as likely to engage in survival sex than their heterosexual peers.
• The main reason cited for agreeing to survival sex is to have a bed to sleep in for the night. Engaging in risky behavior like survival sex can lead to violence, rape and commercial sexual exploitation.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 4, 2015.