Authorities say 22-year-old Marlene San Vincente is one of four adults who exploited a 13-year-old girl and forced the vulnerable runaway into prostitution for their personal gain. NBC 6's Gilma Avalos spoke with San Vicente in a jailhouse interview.
But San Vincente maintained her innocence in a jailhouse interview with NBC 6 Tuesday.
"The same way as everybody sees it, I see it. I'm not OK with anybody exploiting anybody, I’m not OK with pimping, or whatever the name is, I’m not OK with that," she said.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office tells a different story, saying that it was San Vincente herself, a former dancer at Club Madonna in Miami Beach, who taught the teen the ropes and showed her how to maximize her tips. In addition to prostitution, the 13-year-old was also forced to dance at the strip club, authorities said.
San Vincente claims that she found out the girl’s age when an officer told her so.
"’Do you know that she's 13?,’ and I felt it right here,” she said, pointing to her heart. “Because I never heard that.”
Said San Vincente’s attorney, Yehuda D. B. Bruck, "The child told her that's she's over 18, and that she had a child of her own. Many adults throughout the club and other dancers met her, spoke to her, seen her dance and also believe, and believe until today, that she looked like she was over 18.”
San Vincente faces charges that include human trafficking, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, lewd and lascivious conduct on a person less than 16 and delivering a controlled substance to a person under 18.
The city of Miami Beach revoked Club Madonna’s license Jan. 10, but the establishment reopened its doors last week after the city placed conditions on the club including hiring a compliance officer to prevent such situations from happening.
San Vincente said she has two young girls at home who are 2 and 4 years old – and that she would not knowingly hurt another child.
"The truth is going to come to light. I just wish that they would give me the benefit of the doubt,” she said. “And I only care about getting back to my children.”