“He told me it was good money.”
Ashley Van Graafeiland is a new mother, and engaged to be married. Just over a year ago she was in a wildly different place in her life when she met a man who called himself Ryan Snowstorm.
She only saw him twice – until last week – when his face was all over the news.
“I was scrolling through the top stories and my heart just dropped,” she says.
She says the man arrested last Tuesday was the same man who brought her to his apartment on Lake Avenue on December 6, 2010.
While there, Snowstorm told her his real name, Tom Cramer, and showed her suggestive photos of another young woman.
“He showed me and it was a girl, topless,” she says. “He said I run an escort service and she wanted to know how much she would make if she got into this.”
Van Graafeiland says Cramer later made it clear that the escorts “went back to hotel rooms and stuff.”
“I told them I was not interested in that, I’m not that kind of person,” she said.
She also says she made it clear she was under age, only 17.
“He knew. I never lied about my age.”
She says Cramer then offered her alcohol and a share of his own prescription for Oxycotin in order to try to change her mind. She also met his business partner, a man named “Joe” and another girl, an escort named “Angel.”
“He had this girl Angel come over,” says Van Graafeiland. “She called him ‘daddy,’ that was his nickname with her and all the other girls.”
The names, aliases, addresses and other information Van Graafeiland provided to 13WHAM News match key facts in the current criminal case, details that had not yet been made public. Sources close to the investigation say her account is credible.
Van Graafeiland says Cramer found her through the teen hook up site Myyearbook.com. At the time she was living on the couches of friends and vulnerable. Something she now thinks he tried to exploit.
“I was posting things like, ‘I don’t know where I’m going to stay tonight.’ I think he definitely knew I wasn’t in a stable environment.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Rowgoski says what she experienced fits a pattern.
“There is this bonding. The trafficker can play upon the weaknesses in the girls and bond with them,” he said.
Prosecutors confirm Cramer allegedly recruited teens on Myyearbook.com. They also say it's likely this sex trafficking operation extends beyond the six teenagers identified so far. The investigation is continuing.
Ashley Van Graafeiland says she is coming forward now – angry – after learning some of the girls Cramer allegedly preyed on were just 15.
“I just couldn’t sit back and watch this happen,” she said.