Iowa man charged with bringing teens to Chicago for prostitution

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An Iowa man is facing felony charges after he brought two teenage girls to Chicago from Iowa and forced them to perform sex acts for money, according to prosecutors.

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Ferid Mahalbasic / photo from the Cook County sheriff’s office

Ferid Mahalbasic, 18, of Waterloo, Iowa, is charged with involuntary servitude of a minor and involuntary servitude, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Mahalbasic and two girls, ages 17 and 18, traveled to Chicago in a car owned by his parents on Jan. 7, according to a statement from prosecutors. Mahalbasic knew the 17-year-old was underage and that both girls did not have any money.

On the way, he told the girls he had prostituted himself through ads on Backpage.com and suggested they post ads as well to earn money for the trip, according to prosecutors. The girls initially agreed to post an ad on the website advertising sexual favors for money.

The three arrived at a motel in the 7600 block of Cottage Grove and Mahalbasic took pictures of the girls to post to the website, using a prepaid credit card to post the ad from his phone, according to prosecutors.

He identified which callers the girls would meet, and paid for their meals and hotel rooms, prosecutors said. But he also took the money they earned and did not give them any.

At one point, the girls told Mahalbasic they were scared and did not want to engage in prostitution, prosecutors said. He then assaulted them and threatened to leave them in Chicago without money or a ride home.

He also claimed he traveled to Chicago with another girl and later “exposed” her on Facebook after prostituting her on Backpage.com, prosecutors said.

The parents of the 17-year-old filed a missing persons report after seeing pictures on Facebook of their daughter wearing a robe with the insignia of a hotel where the group had relocated, prosecutors said.

The parents contacted Chicago Police, who traced the girl’s phone to a hotel in the 900 block of West Belmont, prosecutors said. Police arrived and found the two girls with Mahalbasic in a hotel room, and arrested him.

Judge James Brown set bond at $400,000 for Mahalbasic, who is next scheduled to appear in court Jan. 30.

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