Saving a Runaway
Teen Challenge alters course of girl’s life
By Josephine Woolington and John W. Kennedy
Nov. 30, 2014
Bailey Gates boarded a plane from Eugene to Portland, Ore. — her first time flying — on July 27, 2013.
She took another flight from Portland to Los Angeles, and one more from L.A. to New York City that day.
The then-17-year-old headed to the Big Apple to meet a man she had met online. She left Eugene early in the morning without telling her parents, Ron and Kim Gates.
Her mother reported Bailey missing hours after she left for the airport. Bailey had run away twice earlier in the year.
At the request of Eugene police officer Nicholas Reich, who was assigned to Bailey’s case that day, a New York Police Department detective and several FBI agents escorted Bailey off the plane when it landed.
New York police detectives later told Bailey that had she met up with the man, she likely would have been forced into sex trafficking. They sent her back to Oregon.
Since then, Bailey has become a devout Christian, graduated from high school, and nurtured hopes for a career in music. She is disclosing her story in an effort to help other teens avoid becoming a part of the sex trade.
Six months after returning to Eugene, Bailey wrote to Reich, thanking him for saving her life. Bailey told Reich her parents bought her a guitar for Christmas and she had written several songs. Reich responded by giving Bailey an acoustic guitar he owned that had been collecting dust.
“To see she’s back home, her life is changing, and she has a passion to share her story with other people is incredible,” Reich says.
Things started going downhill for Bailey during her junior year in high school. She began hanging out with the wrong people, smoking marijuana, and drinking alcohol. She also visited online chat rooms and started talking to a guy who said his name was Brett.
Brett told Bailey he was a 20-year-old student at New York University, lived in a swank apartment, and had rich parents. Bailey said she and Brett talked for hours every day for a couple of months, and he sent her photos.
Brett soon starting pressuring Bailey to come live with him after she told him about problems she had at home. He promised to pay for Bailey’s college tuition if she moved to New York.
He persuaded Bailey to use her parents’ credit card to purchase a plane ticket and to buy a specific cellphone, which did not have tracking capabilities.
Police haven’t been able to determine the whereabouts or identity of “Brett,” but Eugene police detective Curtis Newall says pimps or recruiters often befriend teenage girls on social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat before victimizing them as modern-day sex slaves.
Recruiters also try to lure girls outside of their home state, as in Bailey’s case, Newell says. Once traffickers take a girl away from friends and family, their ability to control the victim increases many times over, he says.
Kim Gates still gets teary-eyed thinking about Reich’s efforts to help her daughter.
“He put everything on hold other than Bailey that day,” she says. “It was just pins and needles the whole time.”
Reich learned about Brett through one of Bailey’s friends, who told him that Bailey was headed to New York.
At first, Bailey says she was incensed that her parents went to the police, but in retrospect she is grateful.
Following the five-hour flight back to Portland, Bailey ran to her parents in the airport and hugged them.
“I didn’t know what else to do except start bawling,” she says.
After Bailey returned home, Kim and Ron, who have been married for 26 years, enrolled her in Boise Girls Academy, a Teen Challenge residential center in Idaho. (December 7 is national Teen Challenge Day in the Assemblies of God). The Gates remembered the tagline “There is hope” from a Teen Challenge public service announcement on a local radio station.
Bailey felt angry and upset the first few months of her 10-month stay at the academy.
“When Bailey came to us she was not owning up to her problems,” says Dawn Trivolis, program coordinator at the Boise Girls Academy (BGA), which is part of Pacific Northwest Adult and Teen Challenge.
Bailey’s life turned around during a service at the Southern Idaho District (AG) Youth Convention in October 2013 when she decided to accept Jesus as her Savior.
“The Lord touched her heart there,” Trivolis says. “Bailey really received some cleansing. She recognized how God had spared her life.”
Bailey says the impetus for her to follow Christ was hearing a worship band play the Switchfoot song “Restless.”
“It really hit me that I couldn’t do everything on my own,” Bailey recalls. “I gave everything to God that night.”
Last December, Dawn’s husband, Chris — the BGA executive director — baptized Bailey. Bailey’s parents traveled to Boise for the event.
BGA operates a boarding school for up to 20 girls, ages 13-17. Although Dawn Trivolis initially counseled her, Bailey says she identified more with Chris Trivolis, who became a drug addict at 15. Chris wants to keep teens from succumbing to life-controlling risky behaviors into adulthood as he did.
Chris has worked for Teen Challenge since graduating from the program 16 years ago. Dawn has worked 11 years for the ministry.
Bailey says Chris impressed upon her the need to be honest about her struggles and to seek help from a multitude of counselors. Bailey also says Chris taught her the importance of prayer, Scripture memorization, and fasting.
“Chris taught me how to be humble before the Lord,” Bailey says. “God is not just your homeboy. He is your friend and your Father who should receive respect.”
Both Chris and Dawn, who have been married eight years and have two daughters, are Central Bible College (Springfield, Mo.) graduates and ordained Assemblies of God ministers.
Chris and Dawn opened BGA in May 2013. The residential care facility is licensed by the state of Idaho as a therapeutic boarding school.
Bailey finished high school in May 2014 while enrolled in Teen Challenge through the online school Alpha Omega Academy. She also graduated from Teen Challenge in May. Bailey plans to start college in 2015.
In the meantime, the Gates family, which includes 15-year-old son Dylan, is spending more time together. Kim quit her job as general manager of a property management firm — which required working evenings and weekends — and found employment with more family-friendly hours. Ron has delayed plans to seek a management position for the grocery store chain where he is employed. The family attends church together at New Hope Eugene.
JOSEPHINE WOOLINGTON is a police beat reporter for The Register-Guard in Eugene, Ore.
JOHN W. KENNEDY is news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Email your comments to email@example.com.