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‘It Makes Me F___ing Sick,’ Sex Trafficking Survivor Says 'Zola' Movie Is Reopening Painful Wounds

“It’s not entertaining. It’s not a wild ass ride," Jessica Forgie, who was victimized by some of the people the movie "Zola" is based upon, told Oxygen.com.

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HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Grooming, Sexual Exploitation and Social Media
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HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Grooming, Sexual Exploitation and Social Media

Between 18,000 and 20,000 people are trafficked in the United States every year, according to the Human Trafficking Hotline. Roughly a quarter of those trafficked are children sold for sex. Social media and digital websites have become major grooming and recruitment tools for predators. Digital websites and platforms, such as Backpage.com, are clandestine marketplaces for trafficking. This episode dives into the underworld of human trafficking and the digital tactics used by those that perpetrate it.

A woman who says she was victimized by some of the people portrayed in the new film “Zola” says the events are nothing to be entertained by.

Jessica Forgie was 19 when she was assaulted and sex trafficked, days after the most of the events of the infamous “Zola” Twitter thread, on which the movie is based, played out.

For those unfamiliar, in 2015, A'Ziah "Zola" King posted a shocking 148-tweet thread about how another woman named Jessica (not to be confused with Jessica Forgie) invited her down to Florida to strip, hours after meeting her at a Detroit Hooters. Soon they were wrapped up sex trafficking and violence, much of it orchestrated by a pimp named "Z," she wrote. (King admitted in a 2015 Rolling Stone interview to embellishing some of the details in that now-influential thread, including a murder.)

The Twitter thread ends with Zola departing Florida and receiving a collect call four days later from a jail in Las Vegas. It was Jessica, her Florida travel pal, calling to say that she and Z got arrested for sex trafficking. 

"Z was wanted for kidnapping 15 underage girls & is linked to 6 murders including FL,” Jessica said, according to the embellished thread. 

Jessica Forgie says she is the one responsible for getting the real Z, (who is renamed "X" in the film) arrested after he tried to force her into sex trafficking. And she's not amused that events connected to this harrowing ordeal in her life is being turned into entertainment.

Jessica Forgie

“It makes me f---ing sick,” she told Oxygen.com on Monday. “It’s not entertaining. It’s not a wild ass ride. [...] People are calling the movie glamorous? A wild ride? Just sick, twisted, s---.”

Forgie was 19 when she and her then-20-year-old best friend were on a road trip in 2015. Her friend’s truck broke down in the desert of Nevada. Her friend knew the infamous Jessica from the Twitter thread; Forgie recounts that Jessica told her friend that they had just made $8,000 in one weekend stripping. Jessica, who was still in Florida, allegedly told them she would fly to Reno with a friend, where they could make money dancing in Reno and then have enough to fly back home to Michigan, the Detroit News reported in 2016. Jessica then arranged for a car, a limo, to pick them up and bring them to a Reno hotel.

When they got to the hotel, Akporode “Rudy” Uwedjojevwe (aka "Z") allegedly took away Forgie and her friend’s phones. Then, he began advertising them on Backpage for sex work. A 2016 KOLO-TV report notes that investigators later determined that he lured three Michigan women between 19 and 21 to Reno to work as sex workers.

When Forgie refused to go along with Uwedjojevwe’s plan, he allegedly assaulted her in the hotel and she fled. This led to Uwedjojevwe’s arrest.

He pleaded guilty in 2016 to sex trafficking and coercion. Forgie provided a message to Oxygen.com from another of Uwedjojevwe’s alleged victims which stated, “You don’t know me but me and my friend were also a victim of Rudy’s. I just wanted to tell you that you are so brave and strong and thank you for calling the cops on him. You saved so many young girls out there and it brings closure to some of us and his past.”

Forgie told Oxygen.com that the ordeal was something she worked hard to overcome and the release of the film has reopened wounds.

“I’m not trying to get any fame off this,” she told Oxygen.com. “I just want my voice out there.”

Uwedjojevwe has a probation hearing in July and is eligible for parole after serving five years and four months. Forgie says she feels “terrified and sick to my stomach” at the thought of him being released.

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