Jury Opts Against Indicting Man on Trafficked Teen Assault

Dallas County courthouse | Image by Barna Tanko

A man accused of luring a teenager away from a Dallas Mavericks game last year and sexually assaulting her before she was trafficked to Oklahoma was no-billed by a Dallas County grand jury on Monday.

The decision to not indict Emanuel Cartagena, 33, based on the evidence presented by prosecutors means that he will not face criminal proceedings on charges of sexual assault of a child. These charges stemmed from the disappearance of a 15-year-old girl from the American Airlines Center during a Dallas Mavericks game in April 2022.

The victim’s father, Kyle Morris, previously told WFAA that he was critical of how the stadium’s security team and local law enforcement handled the situation.

The Dallas Police Department allegedly told him to go home and file a missing person’s report with North Richland Hills police because that was where the family lived and it was possible she had run away.

However, North Richland Hills police did not investigate because Morris’ daughter went missing in Dallas. More specifically, she went missing in Council Member Jesse Moreno’s District 2.

The teenage victim was found by police 11 days later entangled in a sex trafficking operation at a hotel in Oklahoma City. Eight individuals were arrested at the time on human trafficking charges and outstanding warrants, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Several months later, in January of this year, Cartagena was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force and booked into the Williamson County jail on an $81,000 bond, as previously covered by The Dallas Express. He bonded out of police custody in March.

Dallas County grand jurors hear approximately 60,000 cases each year, according to a county website. For a grand jury to indict, at least nine jurors must find that there is probable cause for the charge.

Just last week, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office threw out a case accusing a former school bus driver contracted for Coppell ISD of aggravated sexual assault of a child, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

District Attorney John Creuzot’s tenure has prompted criticism from detractors that he has been soft on crime. The accusations stemmed from the district attorney’s short-lived nonprosecution policy for thefts valued at $750 or less. Creuzot also declined to seek the death penalty in the case of possible serial killer Billy Chemirmir.

In Dallas, overall sexual offense crimes have remained high throughout 2023. There have been 646 cases reported this year as of November 7, according to the Dallas crime overview dashboard. The median age of the alleged victims of such crimes is currently 16. Meanwhile, offenses related to human trafficking have skyrocketed since the new year, with the city clocking 47 offenses so far, a 34.3% increase over the same period in 2022.

Although a City report recommends a municipality the size of Dallas should have about 4,000 sworn officers to properly maintain public safety, DPD fields fewer than 3,200 officers at present.

The effects of this shortage are most apparent in Downtown Dallas, which regularly logs much higher crime rates than Fort Worth’s downtown area. The latter is reportedly patrolled by a special police unit and private security guards.

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