A child sex-trafficking victim who was forced into prostitution by her mother and later identified by a Denver police officer in a documentary about the sex trade is suing the filmmaker and Netflix for distributing it, according to a federal lawsuit.
Using the pseudonym Jane Roe, the woman said Denver Police Sgt. Daniel Steele identified her by her first name in the 2013 film “Tricked” and showed a photograph of her during an interview, the lawsuit says.
The film also used her full name in its list of credits.
That’s left her reliving the trauma of the days her mother peddled her to drug dealers in return for narcotics, she says in her lawsuit, and has her worried her young daughter will learn of her dark past.
The film was produced by Three Generations in New York City.
Steele is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Denver. Roe says her identity as a sex-crime victim is protected from disclosure under state law, that Steele revealed it to the filmmakers during on-camera interviews, and that her name was not available through any other source.
The suit was initially filed in Denver District Court and moved to federal court.
Steele is a 20-year veteran of the department and supervisor of the FBI’s Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force, and has been recognized for his efforts in combating sex trafficking. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman in 2015 awarded Steele the Excellence in Law Enforcement Award.
In the film, Steele lays out in detail how the woman’s mother prostituted her to have sex with drug dealers in exchange for narcotics, and identifies her by her actual first name, the lawsuit says. Steele also “recounts a maudlin story” of his unsuccessful attempt to adopt the girl before saying, “of course she is going to go back to what she is used to,” referring to prostitution, the lawsuit says.
“The statements that Steele made were not only false and defamatory, but (Roe’s) name and identity were of a private nature,” according to the woman’s petition to use a pseudonym.
Steele told The Denver Post that it was department policy not to comment about an ongoing federal lawsuit. An attorney for Three Generations did not respond to messages from The Post, and calls to Netflix offices in California were not returned.
The film debuted in New York City in December 2013 and was selected for the 2014 Montclair Film Festival.
Read full story at denverpost.com.