Dance troupe leader detained in Dominican Republic for possible child trafficking

ByChad Pradelli and Cheryl Mettendorf WPVI logo
Friday, June 18, 2021
Dance troupe leader detained abroad for possible child trafficking
ACTION NEWS INVESTIGATION: A half dozen people from Philly, including a dance troupe leader, are stuck in the Dominican Republic as a criminal investigation in child trafficking unfolds.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A half dozen people from Philadelphia are stuck in the Dominican Republic as a criminal investigation into child trafficking unfolds.

Three of the people are juveniles and part of the dance troupe, Dollarboyz.

Tyree Dumas is the CEO of the West Philadelphia company. He is also awaiting trial in Philadelphia for child molestation charges.

In an exclusive interview, Dumas tells Action News he traveled to the Dominican Republic last month.

Four members of the Dollarboyz group -- ages 12, 14, 15 and 18 -- also went down to the Dominican. As did videographer Anthony Williams.

The Dollarboyz CEO says they were there to shoot rap videos and a reality show for the group's brand, which claims on its website to be the hottest and most popular dance group in Philadelphia.

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Dumas and Williams both claim they're innocent.

"Their parents were already aware," Dumas said, "they gave permission for their kids to be a part of the production. And none of their kids was harmed in any type of form or fashion."

Left: Tyree Dumas / Right: Anthony Williams

"I didn't know what was going on or anything, they didn't read us our rights," added Williams.

Both men are jailed.

Williams said jail conditions are horrendous.

"No beds, no toilets that flush-- it's just a sewer hole in the wall," he said. "You only get food if your family brings food. I have no family here so I am barely eating."

Darlene Jackson, Anthony Williams' mother, said she fears for her son's life.

Jackson said her son thought this was going to be a great opportunity to video a rap performance.

She has been working frantically to get him home, sending $3,000 to whom she believes is a Dominican lawyer.

"He basically said, 'Madam, your son was basically at the wrong place at the wrong time with somebody who has some very bad charges,'" she said.

That's because in 2017, authorities arrested Dumas and charged him with molesting three boys. He pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

"I haven't been convicted of any crimes against children ever in my life," said Dumas.

Attempts by Action News to contact Dominican authorities in Puerto Plata have been unsuccessful.

Media reports say after the juveniles acted suspiciously, "the hotel alerted the authorities because it participates in a nationwide tourism effort to avoid child abuse."

Reports allege Dumas instructed the minors to not talk to police, which he denies.

The kids said they have not been harmed.

Action News attempted to reach the parents of the kids but have been unsuccessful. The kids all remain in child protective services in the Dominican.

"At the end of the day, I've been taking care of peoples' kid, quite frankly, since I was a kid," said Dumas. "So a lot of these kids look up to me."

A Department of State official tells Action News, "We are aware of the arrest of two US citizens on charges of human trafficking and crimes against minors. We take our responsibility to assist U.S. citizens abroad, and are monitoring the situation."

Jackson worries the investigation will drag out in the Dominican.

"So he could possibly be out there one to two years, from what I'm hearing, just on them building evidence and them going to trial," she says.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and Dumas' local attorney were unaware he'd been detained abroad until we reached out. They tell us they too are gathering information.