By Jeff Bahr

jeff.bahr@theindependent

A 74-year-old Grand Island man allegedly told his 18-year-old stepdaughter that if she had sexual relations with him, he would help her with the immigration process.

Instead of having sex, the stepdaughter reported the proposition to Grand Island police.

The suspect admitted to asking his stepdaughter what she was willing to sacrifice for immigration documents and that she had to succumb to sexual relations with him after she marries, police say.

In Hall County Court on Monday, the suspect was charged with attempt of a Class 3 or 3A felony and solicitation of prostitution.

The crime should be regarded as human trafficking as well as sexual assault, said Grand Island Police Capt. Jim Duering.

Human traffickers look for vulnerable people. In this area and probably nationally, the people most vulnerable to this type of activity are immigrants and drug abusers, Duering said.

In such cases, the victim may or may not be a family member. But the way this alleged crime happened “is a poster for human trafficking activity,” Duering said. One person was trying to use power, control and leverage over a vulnerable person in order to gain a sexual favor.

How would a 74-year-old man be able to help with immigration documents?

“Chances are he may not even be able to, but if she doesn’t know the immigration laws and doesn’t know the process, she may not know that,” Duering said. “And that’s pretty common as well. A lot of these people are promising things that they can’t carry out.”

There is possibility that the man could have been arranging for a marriage to a U.S. citizen or had access to other helpful steps. “But chances are his ability to help her would have probably been nominal,” Duering said.

Before the man and woman had sex, “We got involved and were able to arrest him,” Duering said.

This type of human trafficking is the least reported “because immigrants are oftentimes afraid to go to police,” he said.

Public education was probably helpful in preventing the sexual assault. Police don’t know if this type of scheme happens a lot, but victims don’t report offers such as this to police very often, Duering said.

Bond was set at $10,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 18.

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