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Evanston Man Charged With Sex Trafficking Was Curt’s Café Employee

Curt’s Café founder Susan Trieschmann says she is devastated by the news.

Donzell Mintz in a photo from the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Donzell Mintz in a photo from the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The Evanston man who was charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl and forcing her into prostitution this September may have been trying to turn his life around.

Donzell Mintz, 21, was recently hired at Curt’s Café in Evanston, according to National Public Radio (NPR). The nonprofit restaurant at 2922 Central St. offers employment, job training and job placement assistant to young adults who have come in contact with the juvenile justice system. 

In Mintz’s case, he was on parole for a 2011 conviction of aggravated robbery, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.  

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“He went on over 20 interviews and no one would hire him because of his background, because of his lack of education, because of his inability to write, founder Susan Trieschmann told NPR. “But because of that, he still has to eat, he still has to get through his days, and I think some of those choices were based on that.” 

Prosecutors say Mintz befriended the 14-year-old girl on the south side of Chicago, then offered her a place to stay with him in Evanston, where he forced her into prostitution and selling drugs. She and Mintz had an argument on Sept. 18, when he hit her in the face, breaking her jaw and multiple teeth, according to prosecutors.

He is charged with involuntary sexual servitude of a minor, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and aggravated domestic battery.

Talking to Patch last year, Trieschmann said she founded Curt’s Café based on her work with Restorative Justice Evanston, a nonprofit that helps criminal offenders and their victims make peace with one another and reintegrate into society. Talking to young offenders, Trieschmann wanted to know what would keep them from offending again.

“When I asked what would break the cycle, they said, ‘Find me a job,’” recalls Trieschmann. 

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6th Ward Resident October 17, 2013 at 05:54 PM
How did Mintz with no job and just out of jail get his own place in Evanston? I thought Curts only hire teens from Evanston. There are people who sneak into America that can't read or write or speak English and they get jobs. This makes it sound like it's everyones fault but Mintz.
jim October 17, 2013 at 07:30 PM
@6th Ward Evanston taxpayers helped out. City council and Mayor think its great
Tantor October 17, 2013 at 08:09 PM
6th Ward makes a good point. Mexican illegals come in the US and get jobs and live and raise families without taxpayers money or "youth programs," etc. Why cant the likes of this guy do the same? They could go pick fruit, work in restaurants, fix roofs, do bricklaying, clean and maintain lawns, work as maids or waiters, anything that does not involve mugging, prostituting others, or mooching on the taxpayers.
jim October 17, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Wonder of Owner of Curt's Café got the training Bonus from the city
Dave Seminara October 18, 2013 at 08:21 AM
Please. People don't commit crimes because they are having a tough time in the job market. If that were the case, crime would have skyrocketed during the recession. It didn't. So we are supposed to blame society for the fact that this guy is a reprobate? I don't think so. Maybe he's just an angry, violent person who needs to be removed from society.
Chris Granner October 18, 2013 at 11:22 AM
It's a horrible crime. It's a huge relief that the girl was rescued. It was ONE CLIENT from Curt's cafe. For every person like this, how many get desperately needed help from Susan and her partners (including all of us)? Could this have been prevented? We can always do better. But we shouldn't stop supporting efforts to help people just because sometimes we end up helping people who do bad things. I challenge the Patch to do a story about Curt's Cafe, the whole picture. Hit as hard as you want...but ask, and verify, the number of kids this program has helped back from the brink of permanent social ostracization (because for WAY too many, that's what a visit with our criminal "justice" -- really, retribution -- system amounts to).
Tantor October 18, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Patch already did a good piece on the Café back in 2012. What is needed, rather than sentimental pieces, is collecting hard data to find out how successful this enterprise really is. How many graduates commit a crime within, say, five years of “graduation.” What percentage of the graduates is that? And don’t trust the numbers given by Café. Check names vs police records. This would be a substantial job of investigation and it cannot be done by just interviews and anecdotes. To give an example from another area: University of Chicago Crime Lab followed 340 “youth” sentenced to probation in 2011 for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. More than 63% of them were arrested for new crimes within 12 months. Some rehab.
Chris Granner October 18, 2013 at 12:31 PM
@Tantor: I didn't intend to call for a sentimental piece. I was with you, and actually thought we were basically saying the same thing, until you got to the Crime Lab stats. Which rehab program were you referring to there? Totally agree we should make best efforts to provide follow-up oversight on social programs like this. Also would submit that the comprehensive followup we'd both like to see, probably doubles the cost of municipal participation (and cuts in half the number of people we can help). I'm not making the call about whether we should rule out the oversight or accept the higher cost -- depending on circumstances it's probably a grey area. Just interested in transparent accounting so city officials can make the best decisions.
Charisse Hall October 18, 2013 at 04:44 PM
He went on over 20 interviews and no one would hire him because of his background, because of his lack of education, because of his inability to write.
Tantor October 18, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Miss Hall, I have Mexican friends who dont know how to speak English, least of all write it, and they find jobs without the need for youth programs. Did he try picking fruit in California, or washing dishes and cleaning toilets in restaurants in Illinois? Or is that work too hard for him? But even being without a job does not justify prostituting people, or mugging them. In the Great Depression people did not have jobs at all but we did not have this kind of problem we have now with rampant crime and 150,000 gang-sters in Chicago. Let us stop this ridiculous bleeding heart excusing and think of the victims of the thugs we pamper in our midst.
Mildred October 21, 2013 at 09:25 AM
If this young man can't write. HOW DID HE APPLY FOR THE POSITIONS HE INTERVIEWED FOR? If Susan Trieschmann knew this. How did she hire him for Curt's. Why didn't she seek some classes to help him with his writing and prepare for job interviews?
Mildred October 22, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Jennifer will Patch ask further questions of Susan Trieschmann owner of Curts?

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