Jerome’s story: My stepfather introduced me to a child paedophile ring when I was five

by Placerville Newswire / Nov 05, 2017 / comments

[Matt Young]

WARNING: Graphic content

WHEN a child sex trafficking ring saw this photo of Jerome, they decided they had to have him.  A group of ten child paedophiles were in possession of this photo of Jerome Elam, and proceeded to abuse him shortly after it was taken.

A group of ten child paedophiles were in possession of this photo of Jerome Elam and proceeded to abuse him shortly after it was taken.

“THE first time I was trafficked as a child, I was handcuffed to a truck stop bathroom for six hours, raped, sodomised and abused.”

Jerome Elam was just five years old when his stepfather began to molest him. Not long after, his stepfather introduced him to a child sex trafficking ring where he was drugged, raped, sodomised and sold as a sex slave for seven years. He wouldn’t escape entirely until the age of 17, when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

Child sex trafficking is the second-fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, second only to the drug trade. Male victims of sex trafficking have historically been its invisible population.

While Hollywood is in turmoil over the shocking revelations of sexual abuse against women by the former mega-movie producer Harvey Weinstein, accusations long made famous by former child actor Corey Feldman are gaining traction as a reminder that sexual abuse is everywhere.

“Hollywood is starting to unravel, but that’s not the only place it’s happening,” Jerome told news.com.au, citing the bust of a paedophile website in January last year that had a jaw-dropping 95,000 subscribers.

A group of ten child paedophiles were in possession of this photo of Jerome Elam and proceeded to abuse him shortly after it was taken.Source:Supplied

On the dark web, which houses “shopping” sites for paedophiles, 80 per cent of traffic is sexual predators, he said.

“It’s like whack-a-mole on the dark web because it’s all encrypted. They’ll take the sites down as quick as they go up. It’s so prolific it’s hard for them to really put a stop to it.”

As a child and a prisoner in his own home, Jerome said he was forced to have sex “at the most maybe 10 or 12 times a day”. The Polaris Project, an anti-trafficking non profit, reports the average victim of sex trafficking is forced to have sex 20-48 times a day.

For Jerome, certain things still trigger the memories. Smells, for example, including the cologne Old Spice, or a mannerism someone has in common with the people who abused him.

His story is one of incredible pain and overwhelming sorrow, and his escape from the ring’s evil grip is a miracle that few could ever imagine.

‘THEY WERE LOOKING FOR YOU’

It was 1970 and Jerome and his mother had already experienced their fair share of terror. Having escaped from his abusive biological father, Jerome and his mother, a struggling alcoholic, had a new man in their life — Neale.

Neale was a well-respected member of the community, wealthy and active in his church. Jerome said he was well-liked by everyone.

“I was targeted through my mother. In other words the paedophile targeted me and got to me by romancing my mother,” Jerome told news.com.au.

“His aim was me all the time, but he used my mother to get to me, that’s something you see quite often. Five years old seems like a young age, but I can tell you there are stories of younger.”

Jerome said years after his escape, he discovered the paedophile ring in which he was enslaved has been in possession of a picture taken of him before his capture — the same one Jerome provided to news.com.au.

A woman, who was trafficked by the same ring and who also escaped, contacted Jerome and told him, “they had your picture, they were looking for you”.

“It was a bittersweet moment,” Jerome explained.

Today, the survivor advocates for other victims of child sex trafficking.

Today, the survivor advocates for other victims of child sex trafficking.Source:Supplied

With his mother unaware, Jerome says Neale began to groom the five-year-old Jerome to become a sex slave in his paedophile ring in Florida in the United States.

Jerome said Neale began to win the trust of every adult around him. Neale showered the young boy with gifts and took him to sporting events.

“In the beginning, I welcomed the hugs and affection I received from my mother’s new husband, but his actions took a much darker turn,” he said.

Jerome was completely unaware his stepfather was about to “send me down a path so dark that I would barely survive”.

‘THE MORE THEY PAY, THE MORE THEY CAN DO’

It began when Neale started to molest Jerome in the family house, using death threats against his mother to keep him quiet.

“Keep your mouth shut and tell your mother you fell off your bike. This is our secret and if you want your mommy to stay alive, you won’t say a word,” Neale told Jerome.

Jerome kept his silence, so Neale began to up the stakes and started using Jerome for child pornography.

“It didn’t matter how much of a trainwreck my mother was, I still would do anything to protect her,” Jerome said.

When Jerome’s silence was sealed, Neale introduced him to the paedophile ring. They called themselves the “group” in private.

Jerome was forced to undergo an “initiation” where he was beaten and raped by each member. He was still only five.

From that point on, Jerome was trafficked around the paedophile ring and to clients who were willing to pay top dollar. He estimates paedophiles will pay around $5000 for the use of a boy. “They could do whatever they wanted as long as they paid for it,” he said. “They’ll pay top dollar for access, it’s a lucrative business, especially for boys, because it’s such a secret crime right now.

“The more they pay, the more they can do to you.”

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that pimps can make from $150,000 to $200,000 per year for each child.

There were ten men within the paedophile ring plus a few “on the peripheral”; people who would undertake tasks for them, who would escort the children back and forth to appointments.

It wasn’t just Jerome who was a child sex slave. He has written about the “faces of the boys and girls who did not survive the ring that trafficked me” — faces that have “always haunted me”.

The men tried to keep the ring as small as possible so “nobody would shoot their mouth off”, Jerome said.

“They wanted to make sure they could control the people that were involved,” he added.

‘BOTTOMLESS EVIL’ DWELLED IN THEIR EYES

The locations where the group would meet were varied. He remembers the time at Christmas, in a hotel, when he could hear an argument over the price of photographs of his naked, eight-year-old body.

He had been raped and used for child pornography “by a steady stream of men and one woman” for eight hours.

“Seeing the bottomless evil that dwelled in the eyes of my traffickers scared me down to the depths of my very soul,” he wrote when he went public with his story in 2014.

When he first began telling his story in public, he would wake screaming up in the middle of the night, “still feeling their hands around my neck as I passed into unconsciousness”.

What has stuck particularly with Jerome are the sporting events; where the paedophile ring would park an RV in a popular short circuit race, a prelude to the NASCAR season, as a cover to molest kids.

“The couch I was laying on creaked and groaned as the bald and overweight man stood fastening his belt,” Jerome recalled.

“The drug-induced haze of cocaine mixed with alcohol had a strong grip on me, but there were times I could almost taste the dust and grit of the world outside.”

JEROME had been involved in his stepfather’s paedophile ring for three years and was a well-known and popular “date” for the sexual predators that his “owners” sold him on to.

He still attended school, and from the outside appeared to be a “normal child”.

Jerome would go to school with finger marks around his neck “because one of the things they would like to do was choke us unconscious, they got off on that”, he said.

“They liked choking kids out, and worse,” he explained.

“I was often pulled out of school to “service” clients and after school, holidays and weekends were all just a never-ending nightmare for me.”

Jerome said the “wealthy people” who used him “had a darkness inside them”.

“I saw several psychopaths and a lot of sociopaths who were just in it for causing other people pain,” he said.

“The clients that employed their services were pillars of society, people who would sit next to you in church on Sunday.”

Drugs and alcohol were sometimes the children’s only saviour. The men would force it upon the five-year-old kids “in small doses”. Other times they would use valium.

It helped to control them and make them more compliant because “a lot of times it was so horrific what was going on, you had a hard time,” Jerome said.

“To go through that and maintain your sanity, in a way you begin to get dependant on the alcohol and drugs, it allows you to black out, to imagine yourself out of your body.”

He estimated 40 per cent of clients he was forced to see were women.

“Female sexual predators are very under-recognised but there’s a lot of them out there, they’re very prevalent.

“The lens through which we currently view human trafficking has to change and we need acknowledge that this scourge defies gender, race, and socio-economic status,” he wrote in 2014. “Instead of viewing victims of trafficking as either a male or female problem we have to now examine the expanse of its scope and treat it as a human problem.”

As the crisis deepened and the situation spiralled out of control, Jerome tried to tell 10 adults that he was being trafficked for sex. Not one believed his story.

Jerome said he was told he had a “vivid imagination”, or that he was “attention seeking and accident prone”.

“On top of that you’ve got some pretty powerful people in the paedophile ring, they told me ‘if you say anything, no one will believe you and they’ll put you in jail for the rest of your life’,” he said.

“They really instil the fear of law enforcement and unfortunately the numbers say that a victim of child molestation or trafficking will have to tell an average of nine adults before they’re believed.

“Anything I said was just shut down immediately.”

Jerome said he realised he needed to escape, but it was one event that threw him on a crash course.

Another young boy, Steve, who had been trafficked alongside Jerome and who had “survived the worst” told a joke to the leader of the paedophile ring, “Duke”, who was going through a nasty divorce.

“I watched helplessly as Duke choked the last ounce of life from Steve. His death was covered up and no one was allowed to mention his name again, but in my mind I will never forget his ability to make me smile.”

Jerome was desperate.

At the age of 12, after seven years a sex slave, Jerome poured vodka over the filing cabinets that held his stepfather’s collection of child porn and set it alight.

He described the cabinet, which contained photos of Jerome and other victims, as his stepfather’s “evil vault of depravity”.

Jerome is now the CEO of the Trafficking in America Task Force.

Jerome is now the CEO of the Trafficking in America Task Force.Source:Supplied

“That was back before digital photography so it was all polaroids. I torched them all,” he laughed.

“That was my last little rebellion against them for all they had put me through.”

As smoke escaped from his parents’ house, outside, Jerome attempted to take his life.

He described drifting into an “intense white light”, and said he felt like he was no longer afraid, that he had finally escaped the nightmare.

But then ... “A familiar voice spoke to me that resonated not only in my mind but also in the depths of my soul. It spoke to me as a long-lost friend, and I immediately realised that it was the voice of Steve, my friend who had died at the hands of the sex traffickers who had enslaved us.

“This is not your time, and your pain in this world will no longer define you. It will guide you to who you were meant to be, and you will find a purpose in your life that will not only wash away the pain of your own life but that of others who have suffered under the evil that lurks in the world,” the voice said.

Jerome woke up in the hospital emergency room, doctors surrounding him.

“They had pronounced me dead three minutes ago, and a priest was entering the room.”

The survival rate for victims of child trafficking is less than one per cent. An FBI study says the average lifespan of a victim of child trafficking is eight years.

“We’re just now getting to a point where they’re getting exposed. That’s why it’s important to be vocal about this because, especially as men, we’ve got to break the silence and pull the curtain back,” Jerome said, adding that males are trafficked at equal rates to females and have four times the suicide rate of normal men.

“They’re self medicating with alcohol or drugs, committing suicide, they’re just not talking about it. But they’re out there,” he said.

“As men we’re not given the tools to talk about emotions. We’re not allowed to admit that we’re vulnerable. We’re not allowed to admit we’re powerless.

“It’s important to make sure people understand the horrific things that are being done to children.”

At least 60 other men have come forward privately to Jerome with their own stories of abuse since he went public with his story.

“My case is not the worst I’ve ever heard.”

It wasn’t until Jerome was 17 and he went to join the US Marine Corps that he was completely free from the organisation. He says he’s spent 25 years in therapy working through his trauma.

“Where 15 years ago I would be depressed for six months or a year, now it’s only a day or two and I’m fine. I know what I need to do. Anything to keep myself moving forward,” he said.

When Jerome confronted his mother with the horrific events of his childhood forty years later, he said she “still clung to the denial that had allowed her to go on living while her child suffered under the yoke of evil”.

And as for the paedophile ring?

“I was able to see the organisation that enslaved me begin to be dismantled with the help of individuals with whom I made contact while serving in the military, but that is, as they say, a story for another day.”

---

— Everyone has a story. Share yours: youngma@news.com.au

— Jerome Elam is the CEO of the Trafficking in America Task Force and he needs your help in the fight to end human trafficking. To learn more about the signs of human trafficking visit the Restore One website or the Polaris Project website.