Oliver Sohngen

A Music Teacher

"Broken Piano" Image by John Dunkerton

"Broken Piano" Image by John Dunkerton

A popular music teacher, father, husband, founder of the Long Island City Academy of Music, and loved by many, was charged this week with sex trafficking of minors, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, attempted sex traffickings of minors and attempted inducement of minors to engage in sexual activity.

Notice the word minors--that’s anyone under 18 and in this case, way under 18—as young as 8. What were you doing when you were 8 years old? I was building tree forts and playing freeze tag. I wasn’t getting rented out to 52 year old men. 

This story is noteworthy in that 1) it exposes the ugly truth that in these United States there is a market for young children sold for sex and 2) it gives us insight into WHO is buying these children.

People who knew him, according to the stories, hadn’t a clue. He was familiar, friendly, even “renown” in his community. He had access to young children. He had access to a pimp who readily provided him with the product he demanded.

As a mother, aunt, youth mentor and victim advocate, those numbers haunt me: 8, 13, 17. Who are the faces and souls that go with these ages? How were they brought into this market? Sold by a heroin-addicted mother? “Throwaway” kids that are not even on NCMEC’s radar? Birthed by other victims and entrapped in the pimp’s “stable?” 

It is very good that this man will no longer be able to pay to rape children. But there are others who will buy to keep this horrid market alive. There are people who obtain these children to make money: "...the pimp said he could give Sohngen the 8-year-old and a 13-year-old for $1,600."* Such things shouldn't be.

Is it thinkable, is it plausible that this is going on in your community? If it were, would you know?