A postal worker in Sacramento, Calif. is being hailed as a hero after saving a teenage girl from sex trafficking.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department says it received a call on June 8 from Ivan Crisostomo, a postal worker, who told them he was with a young woman “in distress.”
“He indicated that she appeared to have been fleeing from someone, hiding from someone, and was certainly exhibiting a lot of fear,” Sgt. Shaun Hampton told Global News.
Stacy Ohman, the mother of the girl who was being trafficked, told CBS News affiliate KPIX 5 that her daughter, Crystal Allen, had been lured to Sacramento by someone she believed to be a friend but then found herself trapped.
During the ordeal, Allen says she was drugged, beaten and sexually assaulted over the course of three months with no way to escape.
“They made it impossible,” she told NBC News affiliate KCRA. “They had guard dogs and people who would watch us all the time and not let us leave. I was tied to chairs.”
It wasn’t until she was in an Oak Park neighbourhood in June that Allen found her chance to run.
As her captors were planning to commit a crime, Allen grabbed one of their phones and ran from the vehicle.
She later met Crisostomo, who was delivering mail nearby.
“I hear this crying, this really bad crying,” he told NBC News affiliate KCRA. “So I went around and I saw behind this big bush kind of tree, this young lady.
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“The girl kept saying, ‘They’re coming to get me, they’re coming to get me,’ and I said, ‘Don’t worry, no one’s going to take you anywhere. I’m here for you.'”
The postal worker brought Allen into his vehicle and helped her call home to the surprise of her mother.
Ohman said Allen was in a group home and, being a teenager, she thought her daughter had run away, but the person she left with “took her straight to the pimp.”
“She was frantic,” Ohman told CBS. “I couldn’t even talk to her, she was so upset. I told her she had to reach out to someone for safety. She gave the phone to Ivan, and he instantly kicked into gear and told me that he would stay with my daughter.”
Crisostomo called the sheriff’s department and stayed with the 16-year-old until deputies and paramedics arrived.
Police said the area Allen was found in was not “one of the highest crime areas” in Sacramento but said it “doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad area for bad things to happen.”
According to KCRA, the teenager is now living in a group home and is undergoing intense therapy but was recently able to reunite with the postal worker at a post office where he works.
The two hugged during the reunion and Allen also presented him with a card to thank him.
“I’m super thankful and I’m happy that he did that for me,” she said.
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She also had advice if anyone found themselves in the same situation: “Just keep fighting.”
Despite being hailed a hero, the postal worker doesn’t see himself that way.
“I see myself as a person who really wants to help,” he said.
Hampton praised Crisostomo for his actions.
“He stood up for what he knew was right,” he said. “Some people could have looked the other way. Some would not want to get involved at all, but Ivan Crisostomo stepped up and did what was right and for that, our community is grateful.”
He also said Allen was “very courageous” for speaking up and taking a stand.
Police say the investigation is still “very active,” and Hampton could not speak to whether any arrests had been made at this time.