- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Police arrested two people on suspicion of human trafficking after a woman reported she was kidnapped from a New York City street and forced into prostitution before escaping in downtown Salt Lake City.

Authorities said Jean Joseph, 26, and Tara L. Pinnock, 24, were arrested on Monday.

Joseph was booked into Salt Lake County Jail on suspicion of rape, human trafficking, aggravated assault and kidnapping, Salt Lake City police Sgt. Robin Heiden said. Pinnock was booked on suspicion of human trafficking. They have not been formally charged.

Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Cammie Skogg didn’t know if the suspects had lawyers.

In February, Pinnock was charged with prostitution in Stamford, Conn., and held on bail after police there ramped up efforts against human trafficking and prostitution during the Super Bowl, said Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance. He said he did not know further details of the case.

Officers on Sunday night found the 23-year-old woman in a downtown parking lot after she called 911 with a cellphone, Heiden said. Joseph and Pinnock were arrested the next day at a downtown Salt Lake City hotel.

The woman told police that Joseph struck her three times several weeks ago near the bustling midtown Port Authority Bus Station in New York City, knocking her out. The woman had a scar and swollen eye when officials found her in the Salt Lake City parking lot.

From New York, the woman was taken to Chicago, where she was sexually assaulted before being taken to Grand Junction, Colo., then to Denver and Salt Lake City. The woman was forced into prostitution along the way, she said.

In Utah, the woman was taken to a hospital for scrapes and bruises and has since been released.

It was the second time in recent months that a woman has said she escaped a captor in Salt Lake City after being abducted on the East Coast, Heiden said.

“It could be happening more than we think it is,” she said.

In some instances, women could go to jail on prostitution charges, Heiden added, “but we may not even know she has this guy making her do it.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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