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Published: Saturday, 6/23/2007

Concerned Ga. officials arrive to help comatose teen

The apparent overdose in Toledo of a former teenage prostitute has drawn authorities from Atlanta, where her courtroom testimony in April put the man who raped her in prison for at least five years.

Samantha Walker, 18, has been in a coma since Sunday. She was dropped off by a man police would not identify at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, where she was in critical condition last night.

Officials said she ingested an undetermined quantity of over-the-counter pain relievers.

Investigators with the Fulton County District Attorney's Office in Atlanta arrived in Toledo Wednesday to support Ms. Walker's family and alert local police to her condition.

"We just think there are some questions that should be answered, some routine questions," said Paul Howard, Fulton County district attorney.

He said his staff came to know Ms. Walker through the investigation of her 2002 rape. At the time, Ms. Walker was a 15-year-old prostitute and runaway trafficked in Atlanta by an unidentified Toledo pimp, Georgia prosecutors said.

Georgia resident Solomon Gort offered $50 for oral sex but instead raped her and forced her to a local motel. Pretending to go to for a soda, the girl called police from the lobby.

The case drew attention in Atlanta, a city where the mayor crusades against a flourishing underage sex trade. At the defendant's April sentencing, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ms. Walker left the courtroom in tears after pleading with the judge: "If you let him out, the next girl might not make it."

Antoinette Beyah, an investigator for the Atlanta District Attorney's Office, said she still often speaks with Ms. Walker.

In their most recent phone call, she said the young woman talked optimistically about parenting classes to regain custody of her toddler son and of plans to move to Atlanta.

The investigator said Ms. Walker handled herself "with grace and elegance" during Gort's trial, even as a defense attorney questioned her motives.

"With all due respect, sir," Ms. Beyah recalled the victim testifying, "no girl wakes up and wants to be a prostitute."

Toledo police are continuing their investigation, but would not comment.



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