Las Vegas woman pleads not guilty to human trafficking



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MINOT, N.D. (AP) — A 20-year-old woman accused of bringing a 14-year-old girl to North Dakota from Las Vegas and telling her she wouldn't eat if she didn't make money has pleaded not guilty to felony human trafficking.

Authorities have said Tayari Meadows, of Las Vegas, told police she believed the girl was 18 and that she was helping the girl escape her from mother after officers found the girl in a sting operation at a hotel in Minot last month, the Minot Daily News (http://bit.ly/1IEgyFR ) reported.

The Minot police conducted the sting after receiving a report about the missing girl from her mother in Las Vegas. The girl's mother contacted police last month after seeing messages from Backpage.com on her daughter's email account and photos that looked like her daughter.

The girl said Meadows knew she wasn't 18 and that she helped her arrange "dates" in Williston and Minot. Eighteen-year-old Kevin Fleming, of Las Vegas, has also been charged with felony human trafficking.

But a prominent advocate for women who have been trafficked said Meadows should not be charged with human trafficking.

Windie Lazenk, the founder and CEO of 4her North Dakota, an organization that provides crisis care and resources to victims of human trafficking, said the charge against Meadows is "ridiculous" and that she "needs to be viewed as a victim as well."

"Not that she doesn't need to face consequences for being involved," she said, "but to be charged with sex trafficking is absolutely, in my expert opinion, ridiculous; and we are trying to change the mindsets of people."

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The Associated Press

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