A 16-year-old Rancho Cotate High School student testified Wednesday she worked as a prostitute for two months for members of a Cotati family who plied her with drugs, beat her and threatened more serious harm if she stopped before earning them $100,000.
The girl, identified in court only as Jane Doe, said during a preliminary hearing she was a “slave” to defendants Abdelaziz Thomas, 38, his son Arthur Thomas, 20, and relative April Dominique-Nysha Thomas, 19.
She said she met April Thomas, a single mother, while the two were attending high school together. She agreed to help her financially by trading sex for money, something she had done before, she testified.
But the situation spun out of control soon after she moved into the Thomases’ Charles Street house on April 8, she said.
The girl said April Thomas kept all the money and tried to sell her to a pimp for $400. When she refused to go, Abdelaziz Thomas took over, forcing her to move into his bedroom, have sex with him and sell her sexual services to other men, giving him all the money.
The girl testified the Thomases drove her to customers across the Bay Area and as far away as Medford, Ore., and Los Angeles. She said Abdelaziz Thomas hit her and made her clean his room when she wasn’t turning tricks, and that he threatened to track her down if she stopped working before meeting his financial goals.
“He said if I ran away he would find me and it wouldn’t be pretty,” said the girl in halting testimony, marked by frequent breaks.
But the girl said she couldn’t take it anymore. She decided to flee June 10 while Abdelaziz Thomas was attending a funeral, and later reported what happened to police.
“I had to deal with it for two months, and I was scared for my life,” she said. “I had to give them my whole life. I was their slave. So now it is time I have to go to the police.”
The three, who have remained in custody since their June 19 arrests, stared across the courtroom as the girl testified. April Thomas put her face in her hands at one point and cried while Abdelaziz Thomas shook his head. Family members from both sides watched from the courtroom gallery.