WAUSAU (WAOW) -- Wausau Police arrest three people in connection with prostitution of under-aged children.
Barbi Metzger, Nicole Riehle and Darrell Vaughn have been charged with felonies involving three under-aged girls in a prostitution ring. They are currently being held at the Marathon County jail on six different felony charges.
Wausau Police officers said they first heard about the case when some of the girls' friends reported it to them.
"They gave us the names of the adults that kind of pressured them or recruited them to be involved in this," said Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel.
Two of the three girls came to the police station and verified the names of the charged adults and information about the case. Police reports confirm the girls had been performing sexual acts to men in hotels around town, like the Ponderosa Motel on Grand Avenue, as well as the customer's homes. Police say the three charged adults also posted the girls on Backpages.com, a site like Craigslist.
"I believe that one of the factors that they're using children in this manner is because they have a drug habit," said Hardel.
Police said between 70-80% of the work officers are called to check out is drug related. They also said more crimes against children have been reported recently because more officers are getting involved and working proactively on the Internet.
Police encourage parents to be involved in their children's lives so issues like this can be caught early on before it leads to more trouble down the road.
"Parents who allow their children to have much more freedom, that don't know who their friends are, don't know where their kids might be hanging with, those are the ones that are at risk of being victims like this," said Hardel.
Police said this is still an ongoing investigation. The three charged adults head back to court next week.