Juneau girl approached in possible sex scam

Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Juneau Police Department is investigating a report of a man who approached a 14-year-old girl and offered her $100 to pose for "risqué" photographs, according to a JPD press release.

The man, described in the release as older, heavy-set and bald, allegedly approached the girl at Walmart, claiming to be from a modeling agency. He was driving a small, light green truck with a white canopy, according to the release. The girl said she had met the man earlier this year, but could not remember his name, according to the release.

The girl's mother called JPD at about 7 p.m. Tuesday to report the incident, the release states.

JPD did not reveal any other details of the investigation. Spokeswoman Cindee Brown-Mills said, "The bottom line I would say to anybody is to trust your gut. If it's a situation that doesn't feel right to you then walk away. If it doesn't seem right then it is probably not."

Walmart is conducting its own investigation into the incident, said Mike Crane, acting store manager.

"Right now we don't know much about it," he said. "We only have what we have heard and what is in the police release. We are actually investigating it ourselves and we don't want to tip anything or compromise any part of the police investigation."

An encounter such as the one the 14-year-old girl allegedly faced can be traumatic, even though nothing sexual happens, said Saralyn Tabachnick, executive director of Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies.

"When I hear this I think thankfully that she was able to get away," she said. "Thankfully the paper can get the word out and warn the community that this happens, and hopefully a trauma has been prevented."

A legitimate modeling agent would not approach a potential client in the manner alleged, said Tony Vavroch, senior model manager at the Elite Modeling Agency in New York.

"These types of things happen, unfortunately, but it is not a professional agent and it often ends very badly for the young woman," Vavroch said. "They try to take advantage of someone's looks and claim they can turn them into something.

"I am not going to walk up to some girl unless I see her with her mother, and then the most I would do is hand her a business card and tell her if she were interested, please come to or contact the agency and meet everybody."

Vavroch said any model scout should provide credentials and allow a potential model to investigate the modeling agency. Most legitimate modeling companies have websites and ways for interested women to submit photos on their own, he said.

Even a recruiter for adult movies or entertainment would not operate as alleged, according to an industry insider.

"That is a recipe for disaster," said a Los Angeles woman who performs as Lacy Busts. "Creeps like that lure young women either into their vehicles or into studios and then intimidate them into sex, or worse than that, drug them and film them having sex. Even the adult entertainment, or what many call the pornography industry, has licensed agents and a union."

JPD encourages anyone with information about this incident to contact them at 586-0600, or call the Juneau Crime Line at 586-4243.

• Contact Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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