Lawyer says sex ring charges overblownby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A lawyer representing one of the young men accused of taking part in an underage prostitution ring says the charges against her client appear overblown.
Attorney Jean Brandl argued Tuesday in federal court that there's no evidence that Abdullahi Afyare was involved in an organized criminal enterprise.
Afyare and 28 others are accused of forcing girls, including one as young as 12, to work as prostitutes.
Brandl argued that Afyare should be free on bail until he is called to court in Tennessee. She asked Afyare's sister to testify on her brother's behalf.
"What I'm trying to show is strong family support. The fact that for the last year he's been out of trouble, just basically a nerd sitting at home doing not much other than studying, hanging out with his girlfriend playing video games," Brandl said. "So the judge will consider that he's not going to be running away anywhere."
Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel took Brandl's arguments under advisement and says he will make a ruling later.
U.S. District court in Minneapolis is holding custody hearings this week for 12 Minneapolis residents accused of taking part in the alleged interstate prostitution ring.
Currently, only one suspect in Minnesota -- a woman who is eight months pregnant -- is not in custody. She's free on a $25,000 bond.
Dahir Jibreel of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center says it's premature to judge the people who were arrested.
"When I listened to the story of the defense, I thought some of these stories are skeptical -- make you think twice," Jibreel said. "And I want the whole story to come out. I want the victims to speak. I want those families of the indicted youngsters to speak."