The young woman, a teen-age runaway, had something to say to the judge in the juvenile division of D.C. Superior Court before he finished with her case. She wanted to tell somebody about her pimp.
She and at least two other young women, also juveniles, eventually told their stories to the U.S. Attorney's Office, prompting a special grand jury investigation into the activities of the men who control the women who "work" the city streets, law enforcement sources said yesterday.
The four-week-old investigation is in its early stages, these sources said. Prosecutors are concerned with a wide range of offenses connected with prostitution, including efforts by men to entice women into prostitution and the violent incidents that often are a by product of that business, sources said.
Prostitutes have been subpoenaed to appear before the Superior Court grand jury, according to authorities. Government investigators are working with women who have been arrested on prostitution charges for the first time. These women are usually more willing to cooperate with investigators, sources said.
As a result of the investigation, a Superior Court grand jury earlier this month indicted a Northwest Washington man who allegedly tried to entice a woman into working for him as a prostitute. In that case the woman turned out to be an undercover police officer, according to authorities.
The man, Charles E. Abrams, 26, dressed in striped velvet pants decorated with lace, a blue shirt and a cowboy hat, allegedly approached the woman at the corner of 14th and P streets NW at about 11:45 p.m. on June 3, according to the indictment and the government's case.
That corner is near the Thomas Circle area in downtown Washington, often described by District police as the center of the city's prostitution traffic.
Abrams was arrested after he allegedly offered the woman housing, clothes and bail money - should she be arrested - in exchange for $35 to $40 out of every $200 she earned, according to the government's information. Abrams, who was charged by the grand jury with pandering, lives at 3616 Connecticut Ave. NW. He is scheduled for trial Oct. 13.
The office of the D.C. corporation counsel, which prosecutes juveniles and handles cases that involve runaways, is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney's Office in connection with the grand jury investigations, officials said yesterday.
There has been increased concern among law enforcement officials in Washington about the growing number of teen-aged women who have become involved in prostitution. In particular, these officials are concerned with runaway teen-agers who use prostitution as quick means of financial support.
For more than a year the District Police Department's youth division has operated a special juvenile prostitution section, staffed by two full-time and one part-time police officers. Last year an estimated 200 juveniles were arrested on charges of involvement in prostitution and at least 50 percent of those are runaways, one official said.
This week, the District is expected to apply for a $450,000 grant from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration to conduct a nationwide research and training project geared to the problem of juvenile prostitution, according to Betsy Reveal, executive director of the city's office of criminal justice plans and analysis.