CINCINNATI (WLWT) – A Cincinnati mother is opening up for the first time after the man accused of trafficking her teenage daughter was convicted in federal court.
NBC affiliate WLWT reports that a jury found Ismail Salaam, of Cincinnati, guilty on child pornography and child sex trafficking charges. He now faces life in prison.
When a child’s innocence is stolen, the heartbreak can take years to heal.
“I had rage in me. Of course, any parents would,” Shyra Cross explains. “I never dreamed I’d be sitting here talking to you.”
Cross says her daughter will never be the same. At 16, she ran away from home.
“She was a runaway, needed somewhere to stay. He befriended her,” Cross explains. “Make sure your kids know who they’re trusting and who they’re around, because people sell you a dream.”
According to court documents and testimony at trial, it was discovered that Salaam and the girl had been together at a motel for three weeks. Salaam paid for food, hairstyling, manicures and clothing for the victim.
Investigators said he also took explicit photographs of the girl and attempted to have the victim post an advertisement onin the escorts section.
“The pictures alone were devastating,” Cross says. She and her daughter both appeared and had to testify in court.
Salaam coordinated encounters with at least two men, in which the victim was to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for money, according to the testimony.
In text messages, Salaam instructed the victim to flirt with the men, offer sexual acts and collect money and marijuana.
Despite her family’s pain, Cross is choosing to take the high road and dedicate her energy to her daughter’s healing.
“I choose to forgive him,” she said. “I’ll never forget it, but I can forgive.”