Norfolk mother accused of pimping out her own teen daughter

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Norfolk, Va. - They needed the money.

That's what Mellisa Bennett told her 18-year-old daughter to persuade her to perform sexual acts for money, according to an affidavit for a search warrant.

It says police started investigating Bennett last month when the teen told police what was going on.

According to the affidavit, shortly after Bennett's daughter turned 18, Bennett would "persuade, harass and assist" the teen to exchange sexual acts for money.

The warrant says it happened multiple times at multiple locations in Norfolk.

The old school building on Tidewater Dr. is one of the places the affidavit says Bennett would drive her daughter to meet men.

The affidavit also says Bennett's daughter told police that after performing prostitution acts, she would then have to hand over money she made to Bennett.

Bennett was arrested, charged with receiving money from earnings of a prostitute, which is a felony.

Her daughter is not facing any charges.

We were unable to reach Bennett for comment.

Pandering is a crime related to human trafficking – according to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.

“Who wants to believe that that is happening? Who wants to believe that people are being used and abused in the community?” said Patrick McKenna the founder of the group Virginia Beach Justice Initiative – a group that works to end Human Sex Trafficking in Hampton Roads.

“People need to know that it is happening here locally,” said McKenna.

In 2014, Virginia ranked 5th for the number of calls coming into the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

McKenna said many people don’t realize it is happening in their backyard.

“We work with victims of trafficking their ages technically range from 19 to 24 by the time they get to us, but the story is usually the same. That they have been trafficked before they got to be 18 and that abuse continues on after that,” said McKenna.

Friday McKenna, law enforcement and other community groups got together in Newport News to discuss the problem of Human Sex Trafficking. He said more discussions, education and awareness may reduce the problem and the number of victims.