An Elko man who works for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has been charged under Minnesota's new Sex Trafficking law for having sex with two teen prostitutes, ages 15 and 17. Police and prosecutors believe this is the first time a "John," a customer, has been charged under the law.
Mickey Cupkie was charged with four felony counts of engaging in prostitution with a minor. He had no comment as he left the Ramsey County Jail Thursday night. Cupkie is an analyst with the US Army Corps. Of Engineers in St. Paul. Police seized property from his office and believe he was soliciting the girls while at work.
Cupkie is also a former First Lieutenant with the Minnesota Army National Guard who served tours in Iraq and Kuwait. He was discharged from the Minnesota Army National Guard in May 2011. According to his online bio, he's a member of the US Army Reserves out of Red Wing. He also has a bio on the Church of Latter Day Saints where he talks about why he's a Mormon and his belief in family values. He identifies himself as a Boy Scout leader as well.
According to the criminal charges, Cupkie told police it "was possible" he has sex with the two girls, and that it "could've happened." He also allegedly admitted telling the two teens that he believed they were too young to be engaged in prostitution, but prosecutors say he had sex with them anyway.
The girls were runaways, says Minneapolis Police Sgt. Grant Snyder, who handles sex trafficking cases. He says pimps picked the girls up in North Minneapolis, took them to a hotel, and then placed an add on Backpage.com. Snyder says the girls were essentially held hostage.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi says he hopes the charges send a message to the Johns, and to Backpage, which Choi says has become a platform for the sexual exploitation of minors.