More than seven years ago, the I-Team first told the world about a woman named Annie Lobert, who formed something called Hookers for Jesus, a small organization which would seek out Las Vegas working girls and help them transition out of their often horrific lives.
Lobert has now taken things to a new level. She's been handed a gift, if she can keep it, a place that offers a way out for women who have all but given up hope.
It may not seem unusual to see a trio of women getting guitar lessons at home, except the guy giving the lesson is Oz Fox of megastar christian rock group Stryper, and his students are refugees from the sex trade.
Fox is the husband of former prostitute Annie Lobert, whose rescue organization Hookers for Jesus has, for the past eight years, cruised the Las Vegas Strip to seek out working prostitutes and offer them a way out. Lobert likewise has worked the room at porn industry events. But now, is able to offer more than encouragement.
For the past year, Lobert has had full use of a million dollar mansion called Destiny House. It's a large but secluded property in the Las Vegas valley that has been converted into a safe haven for hookers, some of whom are hiding from the vengeful pimps who controlled their lives. The women arrive broken and battered.
"Some of the girls, they don't want to live. They come in here suicidal," said "Annie," who, like the other women in the home, chooses not to reveal her true identity.
Lobert can relate. For 16 years, she was one of the busiest and most successful hookers working the Strip. She made piles of money, but most of it ended up going to a pimp. The abuse and guilt wore her down to the point where she wanted to die.
"More than 90 percent of the girls that I personally knew end up developing post traumatic stress disorder. It is from severe trauma, it is from the rapes, beatings, any forcible manipulation of female organs," Lobert said. "So what happens is they become very emotionally broken and psychologically broken."
"Kristen" was still a teenager when she left a broken home for an older man she thought she loved.
"I didn't have nothing else to cling onto but it turned out this man was manipulating me to get me to be his prostitute. Yes, he beat me, frequently, just for stupid things. I really didn't have to do anything and I would get slapped or stomped out. I tried to escape twice and as a result I was beaten really bad. I didn't have any hope for my life anymore," she said.
"Tamara" has been in and out of prostitution her entire life. She ran away at 14 and spent three years as a sex slave in a rural brothel.
"From the age of 14, and I was supposed to be gossiping about little boys and records, I was chained to a bed and forced to service tricks."
Over the years, she's been brutalized, shot, jailed and finally escaped.
"The man that was my pimp, he beat me with a pool stick one day because he caught me doing something. I went unconscious and he left me for dead and I ended up leaving," she said.
"Suzie" is the program coordinator for Destiny House. She teaches the women things they never learned, like how to cook meals and take care of themselves. "Suzie" previously prostituted herself for drugs until she was gang raped by druggies.
"I see a lot of the same things I had to go through, especially coming out of addictions, whether it was to men or drugs, and just getting out of the hurt and pain," she said.
So far, six women have landed in Destiny House. Mostly, they spend their time reading, getting counseling, healing as they come to grips with their previous lives, hoping they never go back.
"I don't think it's an accident that we got this property to use. In all reality, I believe they deserve a place like this that they can heal because I wish so badly that I had somewhere to go when I was trying to find out what was wrong with me," Lobert said.
But Destiny House is hanging on by a thread. The seed money that was given by the anonymous benefactor has pretty much run out. The property is a blessing and a curse in that it is large enough to accommodate perhaps 25 ex-hookers but it costs money to keep the lights on and food in the fridge.
If they can prove they are financially solvent, the organization will be given the deed to the property one year from now. Some fundraising events are planned, including a golf tournament.
The organization has a planned golf tournament that will help raise funds to keep the doors open. The tournament will be on Feb. 23, 2015 at from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are looking for sponsors and golfers. There will be prizes to Pebble Beach Maui, Hawaii. You can email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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