Officers Didn't Believe Kennedi High Had Autism And Then She Narrowly Escaped Sex Trafficking
Kennedi High was nearly forced into sex trafficking when law enforcement officials dismissed her autism.
Fortunately, the Black and Missing Foundation, led by sisters-in-law Derrica and Natalie Wilson, advocates and advocates the families of missing people, raising awareness of how black people are treated in the media and by law enforcement agencies High one.
High's mom, Brandi Stallings, reached out to her in 2017 after High, 16, never came home from school. She was last seen getting into a car outside their Baltimore school with an 18-year-old man she met through a dating app. Stallings felt the police failed to understand that their daughter, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 12, was in clear danger.
"She's 16 on paper, but are we looking at cognition?" She reflected in Black and Missing, a four-part documentary series streamed on HBO Max. “Because I think that was not taken into account. [...] Your brain works just a little differently than ours. She doesn't see anyone as a bad person, which is difficult because I'm afraid that she will be exploited. "
Stallings also expressed during a Baltimore Police Department press conference that she doesn't believe her daughter "thinks she is in danger, but she really is".
A former Baltimore investigator, whose face was contorted and the name removed from the show, called High's case "funny" and said his opinion "might offend some people". He said he didn't understand what working autism was.
“She went to westerns,” he said. "Western is one of the good schools in Baltimore and you have to be trained to get into westerns."
The founders of the Black and Missing Foundation say in "Black and Missing" that when they looked at the application form for HIgh's case they "immediately started to wince." They felt they had made clear mistakes. Natalie said that an Amber Alert should have been issued immediately because High was dating someone who was not her caregiver.
The sister-in-law asked radio personality Michael Baisden to urge more attention to the case, which he did. At the same time, former Baltimore Police chief spokesman T.J. Smith, who is Black, also remembers in "Black and Missing" that he had a bad feeling when he heard about the case. He told others in the force to pay her more attention, noting that a missing 22-year-old white woman would have no problem getting well deserved media coverage. Knowing the nature of the sex trade in the city, he saw red flags in High's case for such a situation.
A week later, as a result of that media exposure, an Uber driver gave the Black and Missing Foundation a tip that they might have seen the teenager. The driver gave the address of the apartment complex where she was dropped off. The tenth grader was then rescued from a unit within that complex, the Baltimore Sun reported at the time.
Three or four men in the unit reported having consensual sex with the teenager. Due to complications of the law, and because the minimum age in Maryland is 16, no one appears to have been charged with a felony.
Smith said at the time that it was a fair way to characterize the situation that high was "taken advantage of". He noted that the police "think she was not far from being put in a sex trafficking operation".
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