National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
EDITOR'S NOTE: Occasionally we bring you articles from local newspapers, web sites and other sources that constitute but a small percentage of the information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse and recovery from it.
We present articles such as this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
Here are a few recent stories related to the kinds of issues we cover on the web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly.
We'll also present stories about the criminals and criminal acts that impact our communities all across the nation. The few we place on this page are the tip of the iceberg, and we ask you to check your local newspapers and law enforcement sites. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" makes a big difference.
Nevada: Statewide Amber Alert Issued For 7-Year Old Henderson Girl
The Henderson Police Department has issued a statewide Amber Alert has been issued for a 7-year old Kayley Proctor Saturday afternoon.
Police say Kayley went missing from her home at the Allegro Apartments on Las Palmas Entrada Drive.
Kayley is 3'1", 41 lbs. with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a pink shirt and jeans.
Police say a man that was also staying in the apartment, 29-year old Matthew Hayward is suspected of taking Kayley. He is described as a black male, 6'0", 180 lbs. with a medium build, brown eyes and black hair. He has earrings in both ears and has several tattoos on his arms and hands.
If you believe you've seen Kaley, contact your local authorities immediately or the Henderson Police Department at 267-5000.
South Carolina: Gaston County's most troubling missing person cases all involve women
by Diane Turbyfill
Hilda Ramsey's heart used to jump when she heard the phone ring. She would race to pick it up.
Would her missing daughter be on the other end to say that she's OK?
“I used to run and jump over whatever to get to the phone. I don't as much as I used to,” Ramsey said.
- last seen May 4, 2008
- police mug shot
Jamie Michelle Fraley
- last seen April 8, 2008
Priti Ashley Porter
- last seen April 19, 2009
Shakinah Glory Williams
- last seen Feb. 17, 2011
Nearly three years have passed. Ramsey doesn't spring to the phone anymore. She wants to keep hope alive that Jennifer Ramsey Rivkin will pop up, but optimism isn't easy to hold on to.
“Jennifer would never go this long without getting in touch with me, that's how come I know,” said Ramsey. “But you always pray that it will be the other, that she'll just come walking in the door laughing.”
Ramsey last saw her daughter, who was 43 at the time, on May 4, 2008. Rivkin was visiting her parents in Bessemer City. Two days later police found a friend's BMW that Rivkin had been driving abandoned in the parking lot of Dixie Village near the Winner's Circle Bar & Grill at 2533 W. Franklin Blvd.
Rivkin has not been heard from since.
She left behind an adult son, her parents, a brother and a sister.
There has been no funeral for the woman who loved writing music and cutting hair. Having a service would be admitting that she is gone forever, said Ramsey.
Rivkin is one of three Gaston County women who went missing within a year's time, from April 2008 to April 2009.
Two women who were both 22 at the time, Priti Porter and Jamie Fraley, are also still missing.
An extreme amount of effort has gone into the investigations that could all use a boost now three to four years later, said investigators.
A large billboard along I-85 still asks for tips in Fraley's disappearance.
“Fraley has been an intensive and exhaustive investigation but we try to do that with every case,” said Capt. Joe Ramey of Gaston County Police Department.
And most of the time police procedure turns up the person who has gone missing, according to statistics from police departments across Gaston County.
More than 130 people were reported missing in Gastonia in 2010. All of those individuals were found alive and well, according to Donna Lahser, Gastonia Police Department spokeswoman.
But sometimes a person isn't found because they don't want to be, said Ramey.
Oftentimes teenagers will run away from home, then pop back up.
Ramey believes that is the case with Shakinah Glory Williams, a 15-year-old girl who went missing on Feb. 23 of this year.
The teen was seen leaving Bessemer City High School that afternoon and had a history of running away.
Despite the possibility that Williams chose to vanish doesn't mean investigators didn't follow up. Every case must be taken seriously but patterns of behavior are considered, said Ramey.
Police believe Williams is in the Charlotte area. They issued a news release shortly after her disappearance.
Just this week a 15-year-old Hispanic girl went missing, though she called her family to let them know she was hours away with a 17-year-old boy.
Gaston County Police still issued an alert so that people would be on the look out for Rosa Adame who was last seen at her home in Dallas.
Adame is young enough for an Amber Alert but such action requires special circumstances, one of which does not include being a runaway, said Ramey.
Amber Alerts are typically issued when child abductions have occurred. The system shoots out information immediately to multiple agencies across several states.
Silver Alerts work much the same way but with elderly men and women.
Investigators with Gaston and Gastonia police say they never give up on missing person cases. They often review the files and remain hopeful that someone will call in a new tip.
Sometimes a specialized group will pitch in to try and step up searches.
In 2009, a South Carolina-based Search Tactics and Rescue/Recovery team scoured Gaston County in an effort to find Jamie Fraley.
A team of 16 volunteers used search dogs, all-terrain vehicles and boats with side-scan sonar to look for the woman.
The group combed woods and water in several spots recommended by county police. Sites included the woods around the spot where Fraley's cellphone was found and an area where police uncovered a trash bag belonging to Ricky Dale Simonds Sr., a person of interest in the disappearance.
Simonds is the father of Fraley's then-boyfriend, and police say he took her to Gaston Memorial Hospital's emergency room the night of her disappearance. He was found dead in the trunk of his ex-girlfriend's car on June 8,
The team did not turn up any new evidence leading to an arrest or the discovery of Fraley.
Fraley's case was recently under review.
“We're just following up on some things we're doing, but there's no new information,” said Ramey.
Six investigators work missing persons cases for Gaston County police. Those officers have other duties in addition to the challenges of tracking down the hundreds of people reported missing each year.
Hilda Ramsey said she feels abandoned, not only by her missing daughter but by police. She harbors anger toward law enforcement, feeling they didn't do enough to find Rivkin.
She and her husband don't talk about their daughter often. It hurts too much.
But sometimes Ramsey said she has to remember her daughter, the things she used to say and the joy she had for life.
Rivkin loved music. Ramsey couldn't listen to music for a long time after her daughter disappeared.
“A lot of songs would remind me, and I didn't need reminding,” she said.
Hopes Grow Dim in Ohio of Finding Kidnapped Mother Alive
March 26, 2011
Ohio authorities are losing hopes that a kidnapped 25-year-old mother of three will be found alive.
Summer Inman, who is 5-foot-3 and 120 pounds with light hair, blue eyes and fair skin, has been missing since Tuesday, when police believe she was kidnapped in the town of Logan about 40 miles southeast of Columbus.
Witnesses say she was forced into a car by two men outside a Logan bank late Tuesday night, according to Fox8.com.
"Law enforcement has no specific information as to her location, and we know that as time goes by, the likelihood of recovering her alive is diminished," Logan police said in a statement to the Columbus Dispatch.
Inman's 26-year-old estranged husband and his parents have been arrested and charged with kidnapping in her disappearance, police said.
William Inman II and his parents, William and Sandra Inman, were arrested Thursday night in Ray, about 30 miles southwest of Logan. A hearing is expected Friday on whether they'll be sent from Jackson County back to Hocking County.
A relative told the Columbus Dispatch that Summer and William were going through a messy divorce and were fighting for custody of their three kids.
"We're all praying. She's a nice, sweet, young little girl. She's very innocent," the relative told the paper.
A red-light district is coming to downtown Vernon April 1.
But instead of prostitutes working the windows (as they do in places like Amsterdam's infamous red-light district), those in Vernon's downtown windows will be protesting human sex trafficking.
The Salvation Army and Talkin Donkey are hosting the human sex trafficking awareness event called Red-light: Take back the hour.
In the days leading up to the event there is a fundraising challenge.
Individuals have until Wednesday to raise funds, which will be directed towards rescuing and restoring the lives of sex-trafficked victims (which includes those in the sex trade).
Sponsorship forms (and waivers for those under 18) are available at facebook/com/talkindonkey. Forms turned into the Talkin Donkey by Wednesday will be tallied and the top collectors will get a half-hour time slot in Vernon's pseudo red-light district.
They will be sporting T-shirts saying ‘Sex Slavery isn't Sexy' in the windows of Brenda Hala's Photography and Los Heusos between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. on 30th Avenue on April 1.
“The top 20 people who raise money are going to stand in the window,” said Clint Houlbrook, Salvation Army youth consultant.
“We're going to be engaging whoever is downtown that night,” said Houlbrook, as the issue of sex trafficking will force onlookers to think about how it exploits women and children. Houlbrook also encourages the community to think about what goes on behind that window in real red-light districts.
Meanwhile, those taking part will be given a first-hand feel of what it is like to parade themselves in front of the public.
Although the event is taking part on April Fool's Day, Houlbrook says, “this is no joke.
“The joke is we are not as aware of it as we should be.”
Human sex trafficking is a horrific reality for millions of victims worldwide. It is the fastest growing international crime and sex trafficking in particular exploits women and children. Pimps and traffickers oppress victims on the streets and behind the facade of escort agencies, massage parlors and brothels.
For every $1,000 raised, one life will be saved (estimated figure from International Justice Mission).
“The more money we raise the more people we can set free and the more doors we can open,” said Houlbrook.
While the issue of sex trafficking may not appear as prevalent in smaller centres like Vernon (compared to Vancouver), it is an issue everywhere.
“The nature of human sex trafficking is such that it probably does go on but because it is illegal it's just not as in-your-face or as prevalent,” said Houlbrook.
Joining those raising funds for the event is local celebrity April Lyn of Sun FM.
The fundraiser is part of the Talkin Donkey's $25,000 Break the Chains campaign.
The funds will go to the International Justice Mission (which rescues victims from pimps and traffickers behind the front of red-light districts, brothels, etc.) and the Salvation Army (which operates a centre in Vancouver to restore rescued and escaped victims of trafficking with counselling, help navigating the legal system to charge their traffickers and room and board).
EVANS, NY -- Evans Police and search crews have suspended their search for a missing Angola woman.
Angel Marie Leverenz, 18, has been missing since Monday when she was last seen by her family members.
Police and crews have been searching for Leverenz for several days now and have come to no avail. Police say they are still treating this situation as a missing persons case, but are not actively looking, as they have been.
A number of area agencies including State Police, Evans Police, members of the DEC, and local volunteer fire companies started canvassing the surrounding area where police found Leverenz's abandoned vehicle.
The vehicle was found under an overpass on South Creek Road in the Town of Evans with the keys still in the ignition.
Search crews also found several of her personal items scattered around the area while searching on Friday.
Leverenz is 5'5" tall, weighs about 110 lbs. She has long, brown hair, brown eye and a fair complexion.
If anyone has any information on Leverenz's whereabouts, they're asked to call Evans Police at: 716-549-3600.
Pending legislation would require Michigan law
enforcement agencies to issue a public alert
when a person 60 or older is reported missing
and is believed to be incapable of returning
home on his or her own.
Ann Arbor woman endorses 'silver alert' legislation after death of elderly father
by MATT WALTERS
Capital News Service
LANSING - An Ann Arbor woman whose elderly father died after walking away from a community center is among those pushing for a new law that would require law enforcement agencies to issue a public alert when a person 60 or older is reported missing and is believed to be incapable of returning home on his or her own.
Jennie Stinson, of Ann Arbor, has advocated for “Silver Alert” legislation since her father, Norris Lee, died last September.
She said that she supports the proposed bill because it could help other families avoid a similar tragedy.
“To have a positive outcome, the whole community needs to be on the lookout for a missing person, not just the person's family and police. If this helps just one family not go through what we did, it'll be worth it,” Stinson said.
Legislation has been introduced in both the Michigan House and Senate. Similar legislation is already in place in 27 states, including Indiana and Illinois.
The motivation behind the bill is to improve the safety of seniors throughout the state, said Katie Carey, press secretary for Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, the main sponsor of the Senate bill.
“This legislation would make sure immediate action is taken when a senior goes missing,” Carey said, adding that it would expedite the process of creating a missing person report in a way similar to Amber Alerts for missing children.
“It would create an alert that would be immediately given to television and radio stations in the event of a missing senior. This would help the community act more quickly to bring that person home safely,” Carey said.
She said the bill was drafted after legislators heard the story of Estelle Mozelle Pierce, who died after wandering away from her Southwest Detroit home in 2005.
In Jennie Stinson's case, her 85-year-old father went missing after his wife dropped him off at the Birmingham Community Center last Sept. 3. His body was found two weeks later in a wooded area not far from the center, where he was last seen.
Stinson said the medical examiner believed he died the evening of his disappearance or early the next morning.
According to Stinson, her father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2009.
“That day was like every other Friday since he had been diagnosed,” Stinson said.
She said that at the time, her father showed few signs of the disease, which made his disappearance impossible to predict.
“He was still in the early stages of Alzheimer's, as far as we or his doctor could tell. He could even name the current Detroit Tigers' line-up. The only thing he really had trouble with was time and day,” Stinson said.
Stinson said that her mother contacted Birmingham police after she went to pick him up and couldn't find him. By that time, Lee hadn't been seen for two hours
Stinson said that because of the two-hour time gap, a Silver Alert may not have saved her father's life but said it would have helped in the search effort.
“We needed to talk to everyone we could but it was impossible to find everyone who may have seen him. Someone must have seen him but we had no way to get the word out for people to be aware of his disappearance,” Stinson said.
She said a Silver Alert may have also allowed her father's body to be found sooner and avoided the need to search as far away as Detroit.
“A Silver Alert may not have been useful in finding my father alive but maybe someone would have seen him by the river sooner than two weeks later,” Stinson said.
Carrie Collins-Fadell, public policy director for the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Michigan in Southfield, said the Silver Alerts would help keep seniors safe, particularly those with Alzheimer's or dementia.
According to Collins-Fadell, six out of every 10 people with dementia will wander away, sometimes with fatal consequences.
“This is a large amount of people, considering there are more than 230,000 individuals in Michigan who suffer from the disease,” Collins-Fadell said.
Collins-Fadell said that because Alzheimer's affects only the mind, it can be difficult to tell if someone who has the disease needs help.
“The individual can look healthy as they are wandering on foot or in a car. People who come in contact with them might not even know they need help,” Collins-Fadell said.
She said that the proposed legislation would be beneficial to family caregivers who live with Alzheimer's patients at their home, many of whom are unpaid.
“These caregivers represent a huge cost savings to the state Medicaid system. This legislation is one way to help them and make their jobs easier,” Collins-Fadell said.
The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Its co-sponsors include Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor. A similar bill is pending in the House Family, Children and Seniors Committee. Its sponsors include Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor.
Orange County man convicted of having sex with, supplying marijuana to 12-year-old girl
March 25, 2011
A Santa Ana man has been convicted of having sex with a 12-year-old girl he met while playing basketball at a high school.
Neftali Pena Procopio, 32, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 and a felony count of furnishing marijuana to a minor, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.
Procopio met the girl Aug. 16, 2010, on the campus of Santa Ana High School, where he was playing basketball. He persuaded her to sneak out of her home to meet him that night, according to a statement from the district attorney.
The crimes took place in Procopio's parked car. A Santa Ana Police Department officer discovered them after noticing that the car's windows were fogged up. A discarded condom was found outside.
Procopio was arrested at the scene and the girl was taken home to her parents, who did not realize she had left the house.
Procopio faces a maximum of 11 years and 8 months in prison when sentenced April 1.
Clown arrested in 2002 kidnap, rape of 12-year-old girl
March 25, 2011
A professional clown was arrested Friday on suspicion of kidnapping and raping a girl nine years ago in Fullerton.
Jose Guadalupe Jimenez, 41, of Anaheim, was arrested in connection with the crimes that occurred just before midnight on Jan. 19, 2002, when a man dressed as a clown kidnapped and raped a 12-year-old girl in Fullerton.
The suspect grabbed the girl from the corner of Lemon and Commonwealth, drove her to a nearby school parking lot and raped her, said Sgt. Andrew Goodrich of the Fullerton Police Department.
The man then took her to a motel off Harbor Boulevard and molested her again. The girl escaped when he left the car to speak with the motel clerk.
When the police conducted their investigation in 2002, the only physical description was a male Latino in a clown mask and wearing clown makeup.
But forensic experts collected DNA from the girl, and it was eventually placed in the state database system, awaiting a possible match.
Goodrich said Jimenez was arrested in 2010 on other charges, and his DNA was submitted to the database.
Detectives learned last month they had a hit, confirming that Jimenez was the suspect in the 2002 case. Jimenez was arrested in Newport Beach.
They learned he has been working as a professional clown for the last nine years, using the name “El Tin Larin." He is described as 5-feet-6 and 195 pounds with brown hair and eyes.
“Who knows how many other possible victims there might be?" Goodrich said. "We're hoping that any past victims might recognize him, both with or without his clown makeup, and come forward."
Police are asking anyone with information to call Det. Kathryn Hamel at (714) 738-5327 or the front desk at (714) 738-6715 .
College of the Canyons student allegedly tries to videotape boy in restroom
March 25, 2011
L.A. County sheriff's detectives were asking for the public's help Friday in identifying other possible victims of a man who allegedly tried to videotape a 12-year-old boy in a College of the Canyons restroom.
Daniel Donovan, 32, of Canyon Country was detained by security guards Monday after the boy saw Donovan trying to videotape the boy, police said.
The boy ran out of the restroom and immediately reported the incident to campus security.
Santa Clarita deputies recovered child pornography from Donovan's vehicle parked on campus.
Donovan was arrested and charged with two counts of disorderly conduct in a public restroom and one count of possession of child pornogrpahy.
Donovan, a student at the college, was booked at the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's station. He was being held in lieu of $45,000 bail.
Cardinal Justice Rigali of Philadelphia suspended
24 priests who had continued to serve despite
having been accused of abuse.
Suspensions Force Bishops to Reassess Rule Changes
March 26, 2011
by LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Nine years after a scandal in Boston prompted America's Roman Catholic bishops to announce sweeping policy changes to protect children from sexual abuse by priests, the bishops are scrambling to contain the damage from a growing crisis in Philadelphia that has challenged the credibility of their own safeguards.
When a grand jury in Philadelphia reported last month that the archdiocese there allowed 37 priests accused of abuse or inappropriate behavior to remain in ministry, it came as a complete surprise to the local and national “review boards” that the bishops have put in place to help keep them accountable, members of those boards said.
Church officials are also deeply troubled by how it is possible that in the bishops' most recent annual “audit” — conducted by an outside agency to monitor each diocese's compliance with the policy changes — Philadelphia passed with flying colors, said Teresa M. Kettelkamp, executive director of the bishops' Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, which issues the annual audit reports.
“To have that level of compromise of our programs and our process, I was totally shocked,” said Ms. Kettelkamp, who spent 30 years in law enforcement and corruption investigations before she was hired by the bishops.
The church says it has spent tens of millions of dollars to fingerprint volunteers, organize “safe environment” prevention programs in parishes and schools, reach out to victims and deal with accusations. At least 1,000 workers nationwide are employed in carrying out the charter's mandates, church officials say. Now the bishops are hearing parishioners, abuse victims and the church's own child protection workers voicing a sense of betrayal.
“This is confusing and demoralizing to many people,” said Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, Wash., chairman of the bishops' Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, who said he recently met with a large group of these workers at a convention in Los Angeles. “Everybody is very saddened by this because people are working very hard, each and every day, to implement the charter. And to have this happen is really just painful for all of us.”
The main governing committee of bishops took up the issue this week at a regularly scheduled meeting in Washington, and late on Thursday issued a statement that sought to convey reassurances that the bishops were still committed to their policies.
The core of the charter was a “zero tolerance” pledge to remove from the ministry any priests credibly accused of abuse. So the grand jury's charge that the Philadelphia Archdiocese allowed as many as 37 priests to continue serving, despite an array of charges against them, provoked the most searing questions.
Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia at first rebutted the grand jury's findings, then changed course, suspended three priests and ultimately suspended 21 more — the largest mass suspension by a diocese in the three-decade history of the abuse scandal.
A Philadelphia grand jury also indicted the former head of the archdiocesan office for clergy, Msgr. William Lynn, on charges of endangering the welfare of children — the first indictment ever of a senior church official in covering up an abuse case.
The statement from the bishops' committee, signed by the bishops' president, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, said, “We remain especially firm in our commitment to remove permanently from public ministry any priest who committed such an intolerable offense.”
The bishops' statement says they have “confidence” that the charter is effective, but will consider whether it needs to be revised or strengthened. A long-planned review of the charter is scheduled for the bishops' meeting in June.
“We want to learn from our mistakes and we welcome constructive criticism,” the statement says.
In recent interviews with local reporters, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans, the former chairman of the bishops committee on child protection, and Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, expressed anguished anger about the developments in Philadelphia. “There's no excuse for cover-up,” said Archbishop Aymond.
However, the bishops' committee avoided any direct criticism of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia — even though some had pressed for something more hard-hitting, said some church officials who did not want to be named because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
Cardinal Rigali worked for many years in the Vatican and still has powerful allies there. A kingmaker among American bishops, he serves on the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops, the body charged with recommending bishops' assignments to the pope. (Also serving on that Vatican congregation: Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002 during the abuse scandal there.)
Bishop Cupich and other church officials said that the bishops were withholding any judgment about what exactly went awry in Philadelphia and who was responsible because they did not yet have enough information. Bishop Cupich praised Cardinal Rigali for hiring an investigator — after the news of the grand jury report came out — to go through the files and determine which priests should be suspended from ministry.
But those involved in oversight in the church are asking themselves why the local review board in Philadelphia and the auditors did not know about so many accused priests still in ministry. Did the church staff in Philadelphia fail to show them the files? Were the files scrubbed?
Church officials and those involved in oversight say they do not know. And they said that they were looking to the investigators and prosecutors in Philadelphia to come up with the answers.
The episode identifies a key weakness in the bishops' charter: neither the bishops' auditors nor the review boards have the same power as a grand jury or a prosecutor to subpoena witnesses or compel the church to turn over files.
“They can only review the information they're given,” said Diane Knight, chairwoman of the National Review Board, the advisory and accountability committee appointed by the bishops. “It is startling and discouraging that after nine years of the charter and all of the work that has gone into it, to have this kind of a grand jury report come out is troubling at best.”
Msgr. William Lynn, leaving court last week in
Philadelphia, is suspected of covering up rape by the
priests and is charged with child endangerment.
Prosecution Requests Granted in Priests' Abuse Case
by KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
PHILADELPHIA — In a blistering courtroom session on Friday, the judge overseeing the case involving priests accused in the sexual abuse scandal in the Philadelphia Archdiocese granted the prosecution's request to bypass a preliminary hearing and scheduled arraignment for April 15.
At that time, the accused — two Roman Catholic priests, one former priest, a former parochial school teacher and a monsignor — are expected to plead not guilty. Given the city's backlog of cases, any trial would probably not begin for at least a year.
The judge, Renee Cardwell Hughes, also agreed to the district attorney's belated request to charge all five with conspiracy.
The priests and the schoolteacher are already accused of rape.
The monsignor, William Lynn, the highest-ranking official to be accused of a crime in the three-decade-long abuse scandal in the United States, is suspected of covering up rape by the priests and is charged with child endangerment.
At one point Friday, Judge Hughes, of the Court of Common Pleas, ordered Monsignor Lynn, 60, to stand and take an oath to tell the truth. She wanted to make sure he understood the consequences of having the archdiocese pay for his lawyers. In a riveting 20 minutes of questioning, she told him that this could jeopardize his ability to act in his own best interest, especially if he is implicating other church officials to help his defense, and would prevent him from claiming during any appeal that he was not properly represented. She even offered to get him a public defender, at taxpayer expense. He could face a maximum of 28 years in prison.
The monsignor, wearing a black suit and white priestly collar, said repeatedly that he understood the consequences and still wanted to keep the arrangement.
Judge Hughes is not likely to be the trial judge, to the relief of some of the defense lawyers, who have said she favors the prosecution and who engaged in shouting matches with her during Friday's two-hour session. The judge erupted in fury several times, accusing some of the defense lawyers of attacking her integrity and telling them to “shut up.”
“Well, snapdoodle!” she said at one point to a defense lawyer who challenged her. At another point, Richard DeSipio, one of the defense lawyers, yelled out that the district attorney's office was “anti-Catholic” and had attacked him. “Attacked you?” Judge Hughes said. “You attacked me.”
Judge Hughes imposed an order of silence on everyone involved in the case, including District Attorney Seth Williams, who was not present.
“I don't want tweets, I don't want Facebook, I don't want I.M.'s, I don't want any communication,” she said through clenched teeth.
Bills would strengthen tools to fight sex trafficking
Mar. 25, 2011
by Mitch Mitchell
Lawmakers in Austin and Washington, D.C., are rushing to give law enforcement new tools to combat sex-trafficking crimes, and published reports show that authorities can use the help.
At the federal level, law enforcement agencies and anti-trafficking advocates could receive money to build recovery facilities for victims. Legislation proposed by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, would make competitive grants of up to $2.5 million available to six areas to build shelters, fund law enforcement and assist trafficking victims.
The funding, available for fiscal 2012 through 2014, would also help state and local governments create anti-trafficking initiatives.
In Austin, bills that would stiffen trafficking penalties have been introduced by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Dallas, and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio. The Senate bill was unanimously approved Wednesday and awaits a House vote.
The legislation would strengthen parole requirements for trafficking offenses, require offenders to serve longer prison terms, eliminate release on mandatory supervision and strengthen restrictions on bond release. Other legislation would create a "continuous trafficking of persons" offense, a first-degree felony with prison terms ranging from 25 years to life.
"I think it would be a huge step forward to get these laws passed," said Deena Graves, president of Traffick911, a North Texas anti-trafficking organization. "This is the best legislative environment that we've seen in a long time."
North Texas did a good job fighting the trafficking issue posed by the Super Bowl, Graves said. An intense and well-publicized effort highlighted the issue leading up to the game.
Whether that effort can be sustained in the region remains to be seen, Graves said.
The North Texas Human Trafficking Task Force, with investigators from 16 local police departments and six vice units, recorded 133 arrests before Super Bowl XLV ended.
They included 105 prostitution-related arrests and 13 arrests for operating a sexually oriented business without a license, a federal official said. Eight cases are being looked at as potential human-trafficking prosecutions, while four cases involve children under 18, the official said.
Police officials said that of the 133 arrests, 59 in Arlington and seven in Fort Worth were previously reported in mid-February. Still, that's more than 10 times as many prostitution-related arrests as at Super Bowl XLIII, when police in the Tampa, Fla., area made 11.
"The D-FW community was a community that was looking for the problem," said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "The fact that D-FW was prepared, that law enforcement people were looking for it, that hotels were prepared, what that meant was that this was a far smaller problem than it has been in other communities. As we talk about Super Bowls in the future, I will point to what Dallas-Fort Worth did."
However, national statistics indicate that law enforcement uncovered only part of the problem. The State Department's 2010 Trafficking in Persons report states that the number of victims identified is less than 1 percent of all victims.
If one of the Tarrant County cases goes forward to trial under Texas' human-trafficking statute, enacted in 2003, it will be the first handled by the Tarrant County district attorney's office, a spokesman said.
Some critics argue that reports estimating that up to 10,000 prostitutes would be brought into North Texas for the Super Bowl overstated the problem and diluted public support for the issue. Anti-trafficking advocates insist that the trauma these criminals cause cannot be overstated.
More than 100,000 children nationwide who leave their homes each year -- voluntarily or not -- are sexually exploited, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The average ages are 11 for boys and 12 for girls, Allen said.
"The risk is low, demand is high, and the profit is enormous," Allen said. "We have to understand that this problem would not persist if there were not this huge number of men willing to have sex with children."
Advocates cite the recent case of Lawrence Taylor, Pro Football Hall of Famer, as an example. Taylor was sentenced to six years' probation Tuesday after pleading guilty in January to sexual misconduct and patronizing an underage prostitute.
The girl, now 17, arrived at his sentencing hearing with lawyer Gloria Allred, who described her as "a sex-trafficking victim." The girl, who said she was 16 when she met Taylor in May, denied that she was a prostitute and said another man forced her into Taylor's hotel room.
Taylor said the girl told him that she was 19. His attorney, Arthur Aidala, said Taylor "did not intend to patronize a prostitute who was under legal age."
After hearing that the former football hero received probation, Graves said, "Heroes don't rape 16-year-olds."
This report includes material from The Associated Press.
Catholic Order Reaches $166 Million Settlement With Sexual Abuse Victims
by WILLIAM YARDLEY
SEATTLE — A Roman Catholic religious order in the Northwest has agreed to pay $166 million to more than 500 victims of sexual abuse, many of whom are American Indians and Alaska Natives who were abused decades ago at Indian boarding schools and in remote villages, lawyers for the plaintiffs said Friday.
The settlement, with the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, known as the Northwest Jesuits, is the largest abuse settlement by far from a Catholic religious order, as opposed to a diocese, and it is one of the largest abuse settlements of any kind by the Catholic Church. The Jesuits are the church's largest religious order, and their focus is education. The Oregon Province includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.
“There is a huge number of victims, in part because these Native American communities were remote and vulnerable, and in part because of a policy by the Jesuits, even though they deny it, of sending problem priests to these far-off regions,” said Terry McKiernan of Bishopaccountability.org, a victims' advocacy group that tracks abuse cases.
The province released a statement saying it would not comment on the settlement announced by the plaintiffs' lawyers because it was involved in bankruptcy litigation. The bankruptcy stems from previous abuse settlements, totaling about $55 million, reached several years ago. A small group of victims and their lawyers have been negotiating the current settlement for more than a year as part of the province's bankruptcy-ordered restructuring.
An insurer for the province is paying the bulk of the settlement, which still is subject to approval by hundreds of other victims and by a federal judge.
John Allison, a lawyer based in Spokane, Wash., represented many clients who were abused in the late 1960s and early 1970s while they were students at St. Mary's Mission in Omak, Wash., near the reservation of the Colville Confederated Tribes, one of the largest reservations in the country. The Jesuits ran the St. Mary's school until the 1970s, when federal policies began to encourage more Indian control. St. Mary's is now closed, though its building stands beside a new school.
Mr. Allison noted that English was not the native language for some of the students at the time of the abuse. Some were 6 and 7 years old and came from difficult family situations. Some were orphans. At the same time, many Jesuit priests were not happy to have been assigned to such remote places.
“They let down a very vulnerable population,” Mr. Allison said.
Lawyers representing some of the victims initially suggested they would go after assets of some of the region's large Jesuit institutions, including Gonzaga University and Seattle University. But the settlement does not involve them, and their future vulnerability is unclear. Mr. Allison said some of the accused priests, now in their 80s, live at Gonzaga under strict supervision.
Mr. Allison and another lawyer, Leander James, of Idaho, said the settlement required the province to eventually apologize to the victims.
One of the plaintiffs, Dorothea Skalicky, was living on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation in northern Idaho in the 1970s when she said she was abused by a Jesuit priest who ran Sacred Heart Church, in Lapwai. Ms. Skalicky, now 42, said that her family lived across from the church for several years, and that she was abused from age 6 to 8.
“My family looked up to him,” Ms. Skalicky said of the priest, who is deceased. “He was somebody high up that was respected by the community and my parents.” The church, she said, “was supposed to be a safe place.”
Billionaire Assaulted Step Daughter: Cops
Curtis Johnson could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted
by LISA BALDE
A billionaire heir of Racine, Wis. -based SC Johnson home products was charged Thursday with sexually assaulting his stepdaughter.
According to a criminal complaint posted by Forbes, Samuel Curtis Johnson III faces up to 40 years in prison for allegedly assaulting the girl, now 15 years old, between 10 and 15 times.
In the document, Johnson's stepdaughter was identified as "T.S." She told a Racine County Sheriff's Department investigator there was a "touching problem" with Johnson and that he's addicted to sex.
"He molested me," she told the investigator, according to the complaint.
She went on to say that Johnson tried to kiss her and inappropriately touch her, among other things identified in the complaint. She said she eventually told her mom in order to protect her younger sisters.
SC Johnson, touted "A Family Company," sells products such as Glade, Pledge and Windex.
Actor and volunteer detective James Elliott makes calls in front of a board with pictures of missing people.
Pasadena volunteer detectives track down missing people
March 25, 2011
by Sanden Totten | KPCC
This week the Los Angeles City Council voted to enact a hiring freeze at the LAPD. The move is expected to save close to $4 million over the next couple of years.
But Police Chief Charlie Beck says it leaves the force understaffed.
Many police departments hit by cutbacks are relying more on volunteers to help pick up the slack. The Pasadena Police Department has recruited an entire unit of volunteer detectives to locating missing people.
At 5 in the afternoon on a Thursday, when many people are heading out for happy hour, James Elliott is staring at a picture of a girl he's never met.
"We have a 15-year-old female who ran away from a group home essentially and has not been seen since," he says.
Elliott studies her photo for a minute, soaking up the details. Then he staples it to a board above his desk. It's filled with pictures of people who've disappeared.
"They're looking at us every day when we do the job," Elliott remarks. "We see the faces of the people we are looking for and they become quite human very quickly."
Elliott is square-jawed with close-cropped hair and an all-business attitude. Even though he's a volunteer, he blends right in with the law enforcement pros.
Casting directors think so, too. In his day job he's an actor who's portrayed cops many times, including in the L.A.-based drama "Southland."
His acting experience got him interested in police work. So three years ago he signed up as a volunteer with the Pasadena PD.
He heard it was short-staffed when it came to tracking down people who'd vanished. Elliott asked for a desk and phone, and said he'd come in after work to start finding people. He's run the department's missing persons unit ever since.
Elliott says that even though he never wanted to be a cop, this kind of work called out to him. "It's an instinctual thing that comes from the need to engage your environment and not wanting the community to go to hell while you are sitting on your couch watching TV. You want to get up and take part in it. You want to live it."
Today, that means finding a missing 15-year-old girl. He starts calling her friends and family for details. He asks them about the missing girl's love life, how she gets around the city, whether she has a favorite object she likes to carry with her.
"You build a profile from scratch until you have so much information you know that person better than anyone she knows," Elliott explains.
This case, like more than half the ones Elliott gets, involves a runaway. But he points out that runaways can quickly become abductions or even homicides, especially when young girls are in the picture. That's why he's moving fast to locate his target.
Elliott has gathered a devoted team of more than a dozen volunteers eager to follow his lead. Last year they found more than 500 people who'd gone missing.
"It gives me kind of a purpose in life," says volunteer Karen Venable. "It gives me something to do that actually will help people."
Venable has worked with the unit for almost two years. When she's not actually tracking down the missing, she often steeps herself in the gritty details of police work.
"I'm reading all kinds of mystery novels, police novels, all the TV shows," Venable says. "Like I can't come in Tuesday nights because 'NCIS' is on. I just love that kind of thing!"
These days, though, when she watches "NCIS," it's good for a laugh.
"Just watch and say, nah, that's not the way it is. But you know, that's cool. It's entertainment!"
Another volunteer, Sergio Fajardo, says he loves the challenge of finding missing people. Sergio's a scientist by day. He searches space for new planets. He sees obvious parallels to his work with the unit.
"In science we are trying to put things together and find something that was not there at first sight," Fajardo explains. "Same thing when we're working these cases. There might be something staring at us, some fact, but we need to piece it together. And that's quite difficult to do."
The missing persons unit represents a small fraction of the total number of volunteers who help out the Pasadena PD. This year more than 140 people signed up to assist with patrols, fighting identity theft and other tasks.
They've contributed 16,000 hours of service. Police officials say that amounts to $373,000 in annual savings for the department.
For Elliott, the big numbers don't matter much. Something much more personal drives him.
"I know what it's like to lose a child."
His first son was born with a medical condition that took his life when he was 13 years old.
"And when these children are missing and the parent doesn't know if they are alive or dead or what happened to them, I can relate at a gut level with what they are going through. And ending that misery for anyone is a gift we can give here day in and day out. And that's something that's very important to me."
At 7 p.m., Elliot is still on the hunt.
"The good news on this case is we already have a good lead on her friends through Facebook," Elliott says, going over notes on the case. "I have already e-mailed her through these online social services. If we can get these contacts to generate a call back we might possibly close this one pretty quick."
Elliot goes back to his desk, hoping to find the break through that will crack the case of the missing 15-year-old girl. Above his head, her picture stares back at him. He picks up the phone and makes another call.
Father hunts for 'proper end' for missing son, Kyle Fleischmann
by Fred Clasen-Kelly
Unlike thousands of missing persons cases, the disappearance of Richard Fleischmann's 24-year-old son prompted hundreds of volunteers to help police search, spawned national media coverage and resulted in an outpouring of sympathy across Charlotte.
Three and a half years later, the fanfare has died down. Kyle Fleischmann remains missing. But his father still waits and searches.
Police last talked with Richard Fleischmann in August 2009. A public awareness campaign on Facebook that attracted tens of thousands of people has died down.
"People don't ask about it," Richard Fleischmann said. "I don't bring it up."
Kyle Fleischmann has not been seen since the early hours of Nov. 9, 2007 after a night of partying at an uptown nightclub. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say an investigation remains open.
In a brief interview Friday, Richard Fleischmann told the Observer he believes his son is dead. But he said he and his family are attempting to bring new attention to the case because they want to find Kyle Fleischmann's body and put him "to rest in a proper manner."
"I don't know if the pain will be less or worse," Richard Fleischmann said. "I do spend substantial frustration over not knowing (what happened). It is upsetting to talk about but I know my son would do the same for me. He would never give up."
Kyle Fleischmann is the oldest of Richard Fleischmann's three children. The family moved to Charlotte in 2000 when Richard Fleischmann's job with an investment firm transferred him from Florida.
The son went on to graduate from Elon University and worked at a health care agency. Richard Fleischmann said he shared an especially close relationship with his son, playing golf, going out to eat and running errands together.
On the night he disappeared, Kyle Fleischmann had been drinking. He and a group of friends attended a comedy show and later went to Buckhead Saloon.
His friends left the bar between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., but Kyle Fleischmann stayed behind.
A surveillance camera showed a woman approaching Kyle Fleischmann shortly before the bar closed. They danced and then she left with a man police identified as her boyfriend and two other men, according to an account from Joe Paonessa, a private detective the family hired.
Richard Fleischmann said his son left the bar alone, without his coat and debit card. He was last seen at a nearby Fuel Pizza.
Kyle Fleischmann tried to call family and friends. He phoned his sister, his roommate, and his best friend and dialed his dad's office four times.
"I believe he was looking for a ride," Richard Fleischmann said. "Oh, how I wish he would have just gone to a hotel."
In the following weeks, hundreds of volunteers wearing pins, stickers and shirts bearing Kyle Fleischmann's face and name helped emergency workers search for him throughout central Charlotte. A network of family and friends, many of them Elon University alumni, organized a public awareness campaign.
Since then there have been many unsuccessful searches. A private detective who volunteers his time continues to search for clues.
Police would not discuss details of the case.
Richard Fleischmann, frequently interviewed by reporters after his son's disappearance, now lives in relative obscurity.
But he worries for his family's safety. He said he has moved - he won't he say where - because he believes Kyle was murdered and the culprit remains on the loose.
Richard Fleischmann said he thinks his son is buried near a construction site at 16th Street and North Davidson, where search teams have previously looked.
He and his wife recently filmed interviews for a Lifetime network show on missing persons hosted by Beth Holloway - mother of 18-year-old Natalie Holloway, who disappeared in Aruba in 2005.
Richard Fleischmann said he hopes a witness will come forward with information.
"Someone locally knows what happened," he said.
Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.
The feds got another guilty plea
in Missouri's sex slave case
Dennis Henry, former postmaster, admits role in Missouri sex slave case
by Justin Kendall
A former postmaster has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in the sex-trafficking conspiracy of a young, mentally deficient woman whom the feds say was coerced into being a sex slave for several years and was tortured in a trailer home in Lebanon, Missouri.
Dennis Henry, 51, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. Henry also pleaded guilty to transporting the woman across state lines for sexual activity. In his guilty plea, Henry admitted having sex with the woman and participating in torture sessions. Henry told the feds that the woman was subjected to "the most extreme forms of torture he had ever seen." The woman's vagina was sewn shut as punishment. She was also locked in a cage. Henry never asked the woman if she needed or wanted help.
The case is centered on 43-year-old Edward Bagley Sr., who is also known as "Master Ed." (EDITOR'S NOTE: see story below)
The feds became interested in Master Ed in February 2009 after the woman was rushed to a hospital in cardiac arrest. Bagley had allegedly suffocated and electrocuted her during a torture session. Among the allegations in the indictment, Bagley is accused of sewing the woman's "urinary opening and vagina shut" to demonstrate what was "expected of her," nailing her labia and nipples to slabs of wood, and performing abortions on the girl.
According to the feds, Henry met the woman in 2004 when she was 18. He believed she was being neglected, and he said she appeared developmentally delayed for someone her age. She didn't think for herself and struggled to keep up with conversations. She didn't even know how to use a knife and a fork, which he taught her to use.
In 2006, Henry helped transport the woman to California for a sexually explicit photo shoot. The trunk and backseat of the car were filled with sex toys, machines and devices. Henry drove the majority of the trip from Missouri to California, where he, the woman and another person stayed at a "dirty motel" located near an "alley filled with trash, needles and drug paraphernalia."
In California, the woman became scared, Henry told the feds. She also "melted" and withdrew when she saw a crank phone used to administer electric shocks. She told Henry that she hated the phone and feared the pain.
Henry is facing up to 15 years in federal prison without parole. His sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Henry also admitted that he visited her at a Lebanon strip club where she was forced to work.
Last month, James Noel pleaded guilty to his role in a sex-trafficking conspiracy. He admitted that he paid to torture and sexually abuse the woman as well as watch others. Noel told the feds that he knew the woman hated being electrocuted with a crank phone, which was wired inside her vaginal and anal openings and to her toes, but he tortured her with it anyway.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Here's the story from last year that's referred to in the article above:
This is the Chinese symbol for "slave"
Edward Bagley Sr. accused of forcing woman with mental illness to be his sex slave
by Justin Kendall
A young woman with mental illness was sexually abused, tortured, branded and forced to work as a stripper during a five-year commercial sex trafficking conspiracy that started in a Lebanon, Missouri, home, according to an 11-count federal grand jury indictment.
The ring was discovered after the victim, referred to as FV , went into cardiac arrest while 43-year-old Edward Bagley Sr. allegedly suffocated and electrocuted her.
The alleged abuse started when Bagley promised FV, a 16-year-old runaway, that he could help her become a model and a dancer. She moved into his trailer home in Lebanon in December 2002, and Bagley gave her a bedroom of her own, clothes and food. That wasn't all. He's also accused of giving her marijuana and ecstasy, showing her pornography and introducing her to S&M.
The sexual torture allegedly began In February 2004, after FV turned 18. But just doing it wasn't enough for Bagley. He allegedly wanted it in writing, coercing the girl to sign a "sex slave contract" and convincing her that she was legally bound to be his slave for the rest of her life.
If FV cried or tried to stop him, Bagley allegedly ramped up the torture and threatened to kill the girl. The threats apparently weren't idle. He kept numerous guns in the home and allegedly demonstrated his willingness to kill by shooing animals FV cared for in front of her. He's also accused of threatening to bury the girl alive and showed her a video of how he'd do it.
As if the "sex slave contract" wasn't enough, Bagley allegedly had FV tattooed -- a bar code on her neck, a tribal tattoo with the letter "S" on her back for "slave" and the Chinese symbol for slave on her ankle -- to mark her as his property.
Bagley's alleged torture wasn't discrete; he's accused of offering live online torture webcasts with FV from February 2005 to February 2009. He's also accused of offering her to others to torture and sexually abuse.
Four men are accused of taking him up on the sick offer. They are 62-year-old Michael Stokes, a former representative of the DAV; 50-year-old Dennis Henry, the postmaster general of Nevada, Missouri; 44-year-old James Noel; and 31-year-old Bradley Cook.
According to the indictment, Stokes paid Bagley with steaks, cigarettes, coats, clothing, lighters and cash. Stokes also let Bagley watch while he allegedly sexually abused and tortured the girl. He paid Bagley $300 for one session, and also helped pay for Bagley to build a home-made device to sexually torture the girl.
Henry also is accused of letting Bagley watch. Stokes and Henry are also accused of paying Bagley $2,900 so he could take FV to California in December 2006 for a photo shoot in which FV performed sex acts. Henry tagged along on the trip.
$300 appears to be a common price for a torture session. Noel allegedly paid that much to sexually abuse and torture the girl.
Cook is also accused of sexually abusing and torturing the girl. He also streamed video of Bagley torturing FV.
If all of that wasn't enough, Bagley allegedly forced FV to work as a stripper from June 2007 to February 2009. He kept all of her earnings -- about $112,200. If she wasn't a "top earner" at the clubs, Bagley allegedly tortured and physically and sexually abused her.
All five men are also charged with commercial sex trafficking and using the Internet to facilitate the unlawful activity.
Bagley also faces a charge of forced labor trafficking, document servitude, using the Internet for enticement, enticement to travel for sexual activity, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance to a person under the age of 21 and being a drug user in possession of firearms and ammunition.
Bagley and Henry also face a charge of transportation for sexual activity. Cook is charged with being a drug user in possession of firearms and ammunition.
A conviction for commercial sex trafficking comes with a mandatory minimum 15-year prison sentence without parole. The penalty for being convicted of commercial sex trafficking or forced labor trafficking that involves aggravated sexual abuse is a maximum penalty of life in federal prison without parole.
Head of sex trafficking ring gets 40 years in prison
by Alexis Stevens
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
March 24, 2011
The man accused of bringing young girls from Mexico to the Atlanta area and forcing them to become prostitutes was sentenced to 40 years in prison Thursday.
Amador Cortes-Meza, 36, was the leader of a sex trafficking ring that brought 10 victims to Georgia, where they were beaten and forced to have sex with about 40 men a night, according to U.S. Attorney Sally Q. Yates. The victims testified that they lived in Norcross homes.
One victim testified that when she refused to engage in prostitution, Cortes-Meza threw an iron at her head, then denied her medical care. Other victims said Cortes-Meza hit them with his fists, belts and sticks and dragged them around by their hair.
"This defendant tricked young girls and juveniles into leaving their families in Mexico, beat them, and forced them into more than 20 acts of prostitution a night here in Atlanta," Yates said in a statement. "These survivors courageously testified against the defendant and played a significant role in bringing him to justice. This defendant earned every day of his 40 year sentence.”
During the trial, victims testified that they sometimes were ordered to service 40 customers a night at a rate of $25 a customer, Yates said. That money was split between Cortes-Meza and his co-conspirators and the drivers, she said.
In addition to the prison sentence, Cortes-Meza also was ordered to pay $292,000 total to the victims, Yates said. He was convicted of the crimes in November after a two-week trial.
Three others involved in the crime ring were sentenced last year.
Details emerge in purported Rio Grande City teen sex trafficking case
by Jared Taylor
McALLEN — The 13-year-old girl asked Juan Antonio Garcia to let her go back to her home in Mexico.
The girl met Garcia at a bar in Camargo, across the river from Rio Grande City, he told investigators. She came to the United States to work.
But when she'd apparently had enough of working as a child prostitute, the girl asked Garcia if she could leave.
“You know what you're here to do, so do it,” Garcia told her, as recalled by a federal agent.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos ordered Garcia to remain in custody as his human smuggling case proceeds through the federal courts.
Garcia, 31, was one of three men arrested by Rio Grande City police last week during a traffic stop.
Officers pulled over a green Jeep Cherokee with Garcia, Juan Chavarria and the 13-year-old girl inside. Garcia presented his concealed weapon permit to the officer and said a 9 mm pistol was under the front passenger seat.
The officers sensed something was amiss.
“They noticed the female was holding something under her shirt,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Roger Brinlee testified.
The girl was hiding a .38-caliber revolver handed to her by Chavarria, the special agent said.
Federal agents questioned the girl, who told them she'd come to the United States to work as a prostitute. But after she arrived in Rio Grande City, Garcia, Chavarria and another man held the girls at gunpoint and wouldn't leave the apartment where they stayed.
The girl was one of three teenagers allegedly held against their will to sell their bodies for sex, authorities allege.
Garcia, Chavarria, 25, and Jorge Eutacio Martinez, 46, all face federal and state charges in the purported sex trafficking case. A fourth suspect, Ricardo Torres Jr., 17, is wanted on state charges.
Texas does not have a human trafficking law on the books. But bills making their way through the Texas Legislature this year would make the offense a first-degree felony, punishable by up to life in prison.
Garcia and Chavarria face three counts of aggravated sexual assault — for each of their alleged victims, ages 13, 15 and 18 — in state court. Police records show some of the victims allegedly were raped at gunpoint. Torres faces one count of unlawful restraint.
The trio faces charges of alien smuggling in U.S. District Court. An indictment has not been returned on the case, and their charges could be upped to human trafficking — a minimum 15-year federal prison sentence plus fines on each count upon conviction.
Human smuggling cases are more common and easier to prove in court than human trafficking, which requires prosecutors to prove victims were held against their will and used in some form of personal gain, such as performing labor or sex work.
Garcia's defense lawyer, Adolfo “Al” Alvarez, said he doubts the alleged prosecution ring will escalate to a human trafficking case.
“By their own admission, they came to work as prostitutes,” he said in an interview.
Garcia is the only U.S. citizen among the three charged in the purported prostitution ring. But because of his family and property ties to Miguel Alemán, Tamps. — across the border from Roma — the judge refused to set a bond in his case.
Ramos alluded to the possibility that the case could become more severe in the coming days.
The House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation Thursday that would help get the word out about missing seniors and persons with disabilities
Sponsored by Rep. E. Bradford “Brad” Bennett, House Bill 51 would expand the “Gold Alert” program that broadcasts notices about missing seniors, persons with disabilities and suicidal persons. Currently, once police verify that such a person is missing, the law-enforcement agency sends an alert to Delaware media with pertinent information. Under HB 51, the Department of Transportation would also display information about the missing person on its variable message signs along roadways.
The Gold Alert program is similar to the Amber Alert, which spreads notices about missing children. In Delaware this year, there were seven Gold Alerts issued from January 6 to March 19. Five of those were resolved the same day. The other two continued for four and 12 days, respectively.
“This is just an additional outlet to reach tens of thousands of people travelling on Delaware roads to hopefully locate missing persons sooner and safer,” said Rep. Bennett, D-Dover South. “Our most important job as legislators is to protect the public. This bill protects those in our society who most need our help.”
Rep. Bennett noted that several other states utilize message boards, including Colorado, Florida, Rhode Island, Ohio and Virginia. Traffic messages, such as lane closures, fog alerts, detours, etc., will take priority over Gold Alerts on message boards.
Help the Twin Falls Police Department
when it searches for missing people.
Visit Achildismissing.org and register
your cellphone to receive alerts.
Some confused by new automated alert system in Twin Falls
Twin Falls residents with landline telephones received a call from an out-of-state number on Sunday. The message left was the same from household to household, and described a missing woman's description, last known whereabouts, other pertinent information and a Twin Falls Police Department number to call with any information.
Many people called city emergency dispatch, thinking the call they received was a scam. But Twin Falls Police Lt. Craig Stotts said it was just the first activation of the department's agreement with the A Child is Missing Alert (ACIM) program, a national nonprofit that helps coordinate missing persons alerts.
TFPD started using the program in July but hadn't needed to use the system until last weekend. Stotts said the program is just one more tool to help officers locate missing children and vulnerable adults.
The ACIM system can make up to 1,000 calls in a minute and has helped safely recover 750 people in the U.S., including three in Idaho, since 1997.
Stotts said the calls didn't help in Sunday's search, but the woman was safely located around 30 minutes after the calls went out.
“We don't want to overuse it and we have been close to activating it a few times,” Stotts said. “It went off without a hitch.”
A Lowry Park volunteer is accused of sexually molesting a 9-year-old boy in a zoo bathroom Monday.
TAMPA --- Parents hearing the news immediately thought of their own children.
"I stand at the bathroom while he goes in and I see who comes in and comes out," said Kelly Neal of Tampa, a mother of two boys.
Neal's sons Sebastian and Logan are 14 and 5, respectively. Despite Logan's protests, he always uses the ladies room with mommy.
"He doesn't want to go to the girls' bathroom," said Neal. Logan says to her "That's a girls' bathroom.'"
Tampa psychologist Jeremy Gaies says children under age 9 shouldn't use public restrooms alone, but he says it's less about age and more about maturity and supervision.
"I think some children are better able to take on tasks independently," said Gaies. "It's also a matter of what the parents can do to provide some protections."
Dr. Gaies suggests calling out to the child while they're in the restroom, so anyone else in the bathroom knows you're nearby. Or, Gaies says, just be patient.
"They can say 'if you see other people in there, then I'd like you to come out and we'll wait until the restroom is free,'" he said.
Dr. Gaies says parents can also look for family restrooms, which are larger, unisex, single bathrooms. The problem is there aren't many.
"There are maybe one and two in malls. I don't think there are enough," said Desire Davis, who often baby-sits her two godsons.
Ten-year-old Theo Valenti has special needs. His parents never take their eyes off of him.
"I worry. I worry," said Theo's father Chris Valenti. "There was an instance of a child being molested in a camp in St. Louis. The actual camp where our son was and it was very shocking to us."
Unfortunately, no matter what we do, sometimes things just happen.
"The truth of the matter is that we can't protect children against every circumstance. We simple want to protect them," said Gaies.
Tampa Police say a Lowry Park Zoo volunteer molested a 9-year-old boy in a zoo bathroom.
TAMPA --- Police say it happened Tuesday at 2:15 p.m.
Cameron Spurback, 21, was arrested. Police say he approached the boy in the bathroom and pulled the child's pants down. Investigators say he then fondled the boy, before pulling his own pants down and fondling himself in front of the boy.
The child ran and told his parents. Police say zoo security caught Spurback as he left the bathroom. He confessed and was identified by the child, according to police.
"This suspect doesn't have any criminal history prior to this incident. The zoo does do a background check of all of their volunteers, so they really would never have known that this individual was capable of such a terrible act," said Tampa police spokesperson Laura McElroy.
Lowry Park Executive Director and CEO Craig Pugh released a statement:
"We have a duty to ensure the safety of our guests, our employees and other volunteers, and we take that responsibility very seriously. We will not tolerate such action. We are fully cooperating with law enforcement in its active investigation."
Police say Spurback usually volunteered behind the scenes feeding animals and didn't interact with the public. McElroy believes he was a volunteer at Lowry Park for about two years. He won't be allowed back on zoo grounds.
Spurback will be charged with lewd and lascivious exhibition and lewd and lascivious molestation.
Tuesday night, he was in the Orient Road Jail.
Daniel Jay Brazelton
Army private who fled custody is ordered to stand trial on charges involving rape of half-sister
March 23, 2011
An Army private who escaped from military custody in Georgia for a week while awaiting extradition to Los Angeles County in connection with the rape of his 15-year-old stepsister was ordered Wednesday to stand trial, authorities said.
Daniel Jay Brazelton was held to answer for multiple felony counts, including forcible rape, attempted forcible oral copulation, unlawful sexual intercourse and dissuading a witness from reporting a crime. If convicted on all counts, the 20-year-old faces 14 years in state prison.
The girl in the case testified at a preliminary hearing that the incident took place on New Year's Eve of 2009 when she was 14 and the two were staying at an aunt's home. She testified that Brazelton entered the bedroom through an unlocked door and forced himself on her while muffling her screams with a pillow.
He also made a threat to dissuade her from telling anyone, according to detectives and prosecutors.
Brazelton's case received national attention in February when the U.S. Army private and Palmdale native escaped from military custody while being transported after a doctor's appointment at Ft. Stewart back to the Liberty County, Ga., jail where he was awaiting extradition to L.A. County.
Brazelton was not restrained at the time, allowing him to jump out of the van and hide in nearby woods. He was on the lam for a week before being rearrested by police in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Gloria Allred, the girl's attorney, said the Army's handling of the Brazelton case left many unanswered questions, among them how Brazelton escaped, whether he was properly secured and how he was able to send two messages to his Facebook page.
In a March 8 letter in response to questions from Allred, Thomas E. Ayres, assistant judge advocate general for the Army, said the Army was conducting "a comprehensive inquiry" to determine how Brazelton escaped and would take immediate steps to train personnel on how to prevent similar incidents.
He also acknowledged that Brazelton's unit relied on military escorts, rather than more specialized personnel, who were unaware of prohibitions on phone access by prisoners.
"I do give them credit for responding quickly with candor about how this was able to occur, and I also give them credit for taking immediate steps to avoid this type of incident in the future," Allred said. "They do say the investigation is open. This is a good start, but we do have more questions that hopefully will be answered in the future."
Authorities seek leads in alleged 1993 sex assault at San Clemente church
March 23, 2011
Authorities in Orange County were seeking the public's help Wednesday in identifying possible victims of a former youth pastor charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl at his parish in 1993.
Joe David Nelms, 47, has been charged with eight felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 stemming from his tenure at the Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.
Nelms, who was 29 at the time, allegedly assaulted the girl in the church and in a vehicle, prosecutors said.
The victim reported the alleged crime earlier this year at the urging of a friend.
Nelms had moved to Texas and was arrested there last week. He was awaiting extradition to California.
Evidence indicates that Nelms may have victimized others, according to the district attorney's office. Anyone with information is asked to call Supervising Investigator Lou Gutierrez at (714) 347-8794 .
Missing Conn. girl found alive, how police handled her case
by Isabelle Zehnder, Missing Persons Examiner
ORANGE, Conn. -- It was the best possible ending any family and community could have hoped for - 12-year-old Isabella "Bella" Oleschuk went missing Sunday and was found alive and well Wednesday - her safe return was a result of teamwork and a valiant search effort organized by the Orange Police.
Over 100 men and women braved the elements each day and joined in the search for Bella. People in her local community put their names on a list in case police needed their help. Her local media kept people across the country informed every step of the way. And Bella had the support of an online community who, like her local community, were all hoping and praying for her safe return.
One of the biggest fears searchers had was that Bella, deaf in one ear and without her hearing aid, would not be able to hear them when they called out her name. It's cold in Connecticut, so time was not on their side.
Then on Wednesday morning at 10:46 a.m. a woman driving along Indian Hill Road noticed something in an old farm stand that caught her attention. She turned her car around to take another look and saw Bella's blonde hair. She did exactly what police asked their community to do - she called them immediately.
In no time Orange Police Officer Jude Fedorchuck arrived, looked into a hole on the side of a garage near the farm stand, and saw a little girl with blonde hair and a bandana on her head. He asked her to come out.
She gathered her belongings and walked outside. When Officer Fedorchuck asked her name she replied "Isabella."
"I asked if she'd eaten and she said she had Pop Tarts and granola bars. She had a coat and blankets. She was very quiet," Officer Fedorchuck said. "I am a father, so I am very relieved," he said.
Everyone in the town of Orange was ecstatic when they heard the news Wednesday morning that Bella had been found just three-and-a-half miles from her home. The woman who listened to her instinct and turned her car around, she's a hero. Bella was alone, temperatures were dipping into the low 30s at night, and she was running out of food. It's a miracle she was found, the miracle the town of Orange prayed for.
The Rev. Ann Ritonia with the Church of the Good Shepherd commented on an Orange Patch article saying, "I just moved to Orange and have been overwhelmed at the love and support this community has shown to Isabella and her family. Bravo and job well done to the Orange Police Department and to the law enforcement officials and volunteers. I am proud to call Orange my new home. The professionalism especially that of Chief Gagne is a credit to his character and that of the Department. I thank God for all of you."
Also to be commended is the Asst. Chief, Edward A. Koether, who took time out of his incredibly busy schedule to keep Examiner.com and other media updated via email.
When kids go missing
When children between the ages of 10 and 17 go missing many of them are quickly classified "runaways." Many of those children remain on a list in police departments and do not get investigated the way a case would for a child under the age of 10, or even for an adult.
Many of these kids are simply seen as runaway teens who will be home in a day or two.
But they don't all come home in a day or two, as was recently seen in the Elizabeth Ennen case. Unfortunately some never come home at all because they were misclassified as runaways when in fact they'd been abducted and murdered.
Fortunately in Bella's case she did leave of her own free will and she was found alive and well. What is so important to note is that Orange Police knew there was a high possibility she had left on her own, and yet that didn't stop them from searching for her and not giving up.
She was a child missing and possibly in danger, and they never lost sight of that.
Choices police make
Police have choices to make each time a child goes missing. This Examiner.com National Missing Persons news writer commends the Orange Police in Connecticut for the way they handled Bella's case.
Orange Police learned Bella was missing at 8:18 a.m. Sunday morning. On day one they were out in force searching for her, calling in the FBI, State Police, fire fighters, the Community Emergency Rescue Team (CERT), K-9 units, and other agencies to come help with the search. By nightfall Sunday they had spent a day searching the woods around her home.
When night fell they sent some searchers home due to the dangerous and treacherous conditions. Early Sunday evening a state police helicopter and airplane were sent up to search the ground from above with infrared equipment in hopes of finding Bella.
Police were asking everyone in the public to search their barns and meadows because Bella loves horses. They were concerned because temperatures were dipping below freezing at night. They searched on the ground with flashlights while others searched from the air.
Police announced on Sunday they would not stop until they had resolution in Bella's case.
Their search efforts only increased as the days wore on.
On Wednesday before they found Bella police said they would not stop until she was found.
Just as the Orange Police were planning a press conference Wednesday morning where Bella's parents were scheduled to speak, they got the wonderful news Bella had been found. Cries of joys could be heard when police made the announcement to the townspeople.
They were determined, they never gave up, and their efforts paid off.
Lawrence Taylor arrives Tuesday at the Rockland County
Courthouse in New City where he was sentenced to six
years' probation and a $1,400 fine for his guilty pleas
to patronizing a prostitute and sexual misconduct.
Sex trafficking feeds on victims
Can there be a conviction for patronizing a prostitute without a prostitute?
The young woman who was an underage runaway when she was sent to former NFL star Lawrence Taylor's Montebello hotel room thinks so.
"I am not a prostitute," she said during a press conference Tuesday outside the Rockland County Courthouse where Taylor had just been sentenced to six years' probation and a $1,400 fine for his guilty pleas to patronizing a prostitute and sexual misconduct, misdemeanors.
She is right. She is a victim of sex trafficking. She engaged in prostitution because she was a victim. "Sex trafficking is a violent and degrading crime that will not be tolerated," Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said upon Taylor's sentencing.
Bronx resident Rasheed Davis, the man who is accused of plying her with alcohol and drugs and pimping her out, faces federal charges of human trafficking that involved using violence.
Taylor, who finds out April 12 if he will be registered as a Level 1 or more serious Level 2 sex offender, would be wise to remember that this girl was a victim, further victimized by his actions. So would Taylor's lawyer, Arthur Aidala, who alternately said the girl was being re-victimized and questioned the veracity of the 17-year-old's statements.
Lawyer v. lawyer
The girl, identified in court papers as "C.F.," had wanted to make a victim's impact statement in court Tuesday. State Supreme Court Justice William A. Kelly ruled that such statements are used in felony sentencings only.
So the girl had her say outside the court, in front of TV cameras. Standing by her side was high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred, who knows her way around a media circus. The girl wanted to say Taylor deserved jail time; he should have known by the bruises on her young face that something was terribly wrong; she wanted to say she is not a prostitute. Allred embraced her as the girl wiped away tears; the TV-loving lawyer wouldn't discuss whether she was planning a lawsuit against Taylor.
Aidala, though, knows that the best defense is a strong offense.
He painted the young girl whose victimhood his client blithely perpetuated as being re-victimized at the hands of her lawyer. He accused Allred of using the girl to sensationalize the case for a potential lawsuit.
The ex-football star's lawyer pointed out that the girl had approved of a probationary sentence earlier, and now was changing her stand as the media spotlight shone. He brought up earlier statements by the girl that the ex-football player had been respectful, and that the then-16-year-old had told him she was 19. That she accepted $300.
Vulnerable to trafficking
No one should be surprised that C.F. has made contradictory statements. When the incident happened, she was a 16-year-old runaway who had to text an uncle that she needed help, that she was scared and in trouble. The uncle called police.
That's what led the sex trafficking charges against Davis, and the "end user" prostitution charges against Taylor.
In domestic sex trafficking, the victims are usually runaways who are often toughened by hard lives, who believe they are street savvy . But their limited resources — money, family, education, experience — leave them vulnerable to a sex trafficker who some would just call a pimp. The young victims often see their own complicity — in prostitution and illegal drug use — creating more barriers for them to seek help. They fear not only that the trafficker's threats will come true, but that they will be held liable for the illegal activities forced upon them.
Only C.F. can determine whether she was re-victimized Tuesday or empowered. When she says she is not a prostitute, but a victim, we need to listen, and acknowledge what Taylor couldn't seem to figure out that May night in Montebello: the prostitution trade fuels a vicious industry that enslaves young women. Sex trafficking exists, even thrives, in the suburbs.
Anyone who has information about Ricardo
Torres Jr., 17, who is wanted on state
charges is urged to call Rio Grande City
Crime Stoppers at (956) 488-8477
Teenage girls allegedly trafficked to work as prostitutes in Rio Grande City
March 23, 2011
by Jared Taylor -
RIO GRANDE CITY — Three men allegedly raped and abused Mexican girls brought across the Rio Grande to work as prostitutes.
Rio Grande City police uncovered the alleged sex trafficking ring during a March 17 traffic stop. Federal authorities have opened their own investigation in the case, as well.
But the local criminal charges lodged in the case allege that the juvenile girls — as young as 13 years old — had been brought into the city to work as prostitutes and were sexually abused by their smugglers, as well.
Arrested were Juan Antonio Garcia and Juan Chavarria, 25, who were found riding with a 13-year-old girl and did not have identification.
Police called in U.S. Border Patrol, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who took the girl and her purported captors into custody.
The 13-year-old girl told investigators she and the two others had been smuggled across the Rio Grande from Camargo, federal court documents state. The girl said she was being kept at a beige apartment along Chapote Street in Rio Grande City.
Garcia, 31, told investigators he met the 13-year-old girl at a bar in Camargo and worked with a friend to smuggle the three girls into the United States.
Authorities also arrested the man purportedly guarding the stash house, Jorge Eutacio Martinez, 45, who allegedly held the girls at gunpoint and kept them from leaving the property, the federal complaint states.
The three men face human smuggling charges in U.S. District Court. Federal authorities have not publicly identified the case one involving human trafficking, which carries stiffer penalties for suspects convicted of holding people against their will to work, often as prostitutes.
Garcia and Chavarria, face three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, a first degree felony punishable by up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine. Martinez was formally charged with unlawful restraint, a state jail felony punishable by a maximum of two years in a county jail and up to a $10,000 fine. They will face state charges after their federal cases are resolved, police said.
Authorities continue to look for a fourth suspect, Ricardo Torres, 17, who also faces state charges in the alleged sex trafficking case.
Federal authorities are holding the 13-year-old girl, an illegal immigrant, in custody without bond as a material witness in the case.
Court documents filed by Rio Grande City police were not immediately available late Wednesday afternoon.
Judge to sentence man convicted of trafficking women to US for prostitution
ATLANTA — A federal judge is set to sentence a man convicted of luring impoverished young Mexican women to the Atlanta area only to force them to work as prostitutes.
Amador Cortes-Meza could face life in prison on Thursday when he's sentenced.
A federal jury convicted him in November of sex trafficking of minors, conspiracy and smuggling charges for bringing them to Georgia.
Prosecutors say Cortes-Meza and several of his relatives targeted uneducated women and then paid smugglers to bring them across the border illegally. The women said they were forced to work as prostitutes indefinitely to repay transportation costs and living expenses.
Sex slaves who come in from other states are protected, but that same protection is not extended to Alaska residents. Soon that could change.
Senate bill 110 would make it illegal to transport people within the state for the purpose of sexual enslavement.
Senator Wielechowski who introduced the bill says it was brought to light partly because of the growing rate of Alaskan Native teen victims.
Right now it is only illegal to bring people from other states to Alaska for the purpose of sex trafficking.
“We don't have a provision for in-state transfer of a person,” Sen. Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) said.
Covenant house officials say there are a growing number of under aged youth being victimized.
“You are not going to see people in Spenard, your not necessarily going to see a strong visual representation of the trafficking,” said Lauren Rice, Director of Public Affairs for Covenant House Alaska. “It's gone underground, so there are aspects of it that are more difficult to track, but we still know kids are being victimized.”
“We've had many, many reports that these sexual predators are going out to rural villages and enticing kids, young girls, young boys to the urban areas and work in sexual entertainment work in prostitution,” Wielechowski said.
The Covenant House says young victims come through their doors at least every month.
And it's not just Alaska Native teens; it's kids from every ethnicity.
“We've had kids who were victims of trafficking and then being pursued by a pimp and we've had to help them go into hiding, we've had all kinds of difference experiences from trying to protect kids from this,” Rice said.
Wielechowski put in a request for a hearing on senate bill 110; he is hoping to get one in the next couple weeks.
The proposed bill will also give judges the ability to bar certain child sex offenders from living within 500 feet of a school ground as part of their probation.
Memphis, Tenn. - Children being held captive and sold for sex, some call it modern day slavery and it's happening right here in Memphis and the Mid-South.
Child-Sex Traffic Ring Bust in Memphis
The FBI has been investigating human trafficking for years. Now the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has been asked by lawmakers to find out how big of a problem it really is.
The images are shocking but the details behind child trafficking are even harder to stomach.
"It's more serious than most people realize," said Ryan Dalton with Operation Broken Silence.
In 2008, Memphis federal officials were awarded for dismantling an international child sex-trafficking ring.
One victim told investigators, at age 13, she was smuggled from Mexico with the promise of a job but was forced into prostitution once she to got to Tennessee.
At the age of 14 she says she was having sex with as many as 40 men a day and was working out of Memphis homes on Victory Heights, which were once brothels. Gerald Ware recently moved into one of the homes and says he still gets strangers visiting.
"Like I said we had a couple visitors knock on the door asking for somebody, I said you got the wrong address. They gotta be sick in the head to even involve themselves with kids anyway," said Ware.
Websites Promoting Child-Sex Trafficking in Memphis
Operation Broken Silence is a Memphis based human rights group, fighting human trafficking. Dalton says finding child trafficking is as easy as logging onto a computer.
"Just as you can chose between condos, roommates, etc, you can also select escorts. Some of these ads are people who are trafficked," said Dalton.
In September the Tennessee Attorney General joined other states, calling for a website called Backpage.com, to shut down its adult section, saying that ads for prostitution - including ads trafficking children - are rampant on the site.
"They're advertised as 18 or 19 but when you look at the pictures, look like little kids," said Dalton.
Dalton and Operation Broken Silence recently finished a 3 month investigation of the website. Dalton says during their investigation, they called authorities to report three cases where the photos of escorts, advertised in Memphis, were clearly of children.
He says a picture of one girl was extraordinarily disturbing.
"She looked totally terrified, she was in the back of a camper which is also indicative of trafficking."
Memphis Areas Advertised
Dalton took us to some of the commonly advertised locations where they believe traffickers are looking to sexually exploit children including near the Memphis Airport.
"An airport in any city is a common place for trafficking because you have motels and businessmen around there."
Sam Cooper is another place trafficking is believed to be taking place.
"A lot of ads show up there because inexpensive motels throughout there where people can travel to easily. The one most strange to us, around Wolfchase Mall, a lot were advertised there," said Dalton.
Dalton says that's because it's close to an interstate and there are a lot of people around.
He adds that human trafficking can be a lucrative business for pimps.
"Some people say as high as $1,000,000 a year, $500,000 is not uncommon if a girl is forced to sleep with 3 maybe 2 guys a night."
The FBI agrees, it's a lucrative business. Last year, the bureau started a civil rights task force, in Memphis one of the few in the country that focuses on human trafficking.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jeremy Baker says those buying sex, may not realize they're dealing with a victim of trafficking.
"They may not be making a differentiation on whether these people were forced into this or not. Unfortunately in many instances the person is there against their will, have been tricked into doing this," said Agent Baker,
The FBI won't comment on the number of cases or children they believe are being trafficked in Memphis.
"Putting hard numbers on an industry cloaked in deceit is difficult to do," said Dalton.
But lawmakers want to know.
Lawmakers Get Involved
A legislative group has asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to conduct an in-depth study on child trafficking in Tennessee. The report is expected to be complete in May.
"I think we'll find, similar to our study, trafficking is more serious than the community could possibly think."
Democrat, Beverly Marrero of Memphis has proposed 2 bills this session. One bill would post human trafficking hotlines in airports, motels and truck stops the other would allow authorities to seize the assets of traffickers.
Dalton says he'd like to see the harsher penalties for human traffickers in the U.S.
"Most people think slavery don't exist anymore, other parts of the world, but it's definitely modern slavery," said Dalton.
Operation Broken Silence is working to build an aftercare response system for victims of trafficking because once freed, some victims have nowhere to go and may end up being re-trafficked.
University women's studies forum speaker: Human trafficking a problem everywhere
by Fred Steiner
Mar 23, 2011
If human trafficking, be it for sex or labor, sounds like something that only happens in other countries, listen more closely.
“This happens every day to millions of people around the world”—including in the United States, Dr. Jacquelyn C.A. Meshelemiah told a Bluffton University audience March 22 at Bluffton's annual Women's Studies Forum.
Discussing what the title of her talk termed “A Modern-Day Slavery,” the associate professor of social work at Ohio State University said human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Of the more than 12 million people trafficked worldwide, 600,000-800,000 cross international borders, with an estimated 14,500-17,500 of them trafficked annually into the U.S., said Meshelemiah, who researches the issue.
In 2007, 83 percent of the 1,229 identified human trafficking incidents in the U.S. involved sex trafficking and, according to Human Trafficking Reporting System statistics, about two-thirds of alleged trafficking incidents involve children 17 or younger, she said.
One million of all people trafficked worldwide are in the child sex trade and at any given time, she added, 100,000-300,000 American children are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation.
Not only is Ohio not immune, it is a magnet for the problem, the Cleveland native maintained, noting Toledo's unwanted status as the third largest city for child prostitution in the nation.
That's due in part, she explained, to its easy highway accessibility and many runaways—two of the same factors she cited as making Ohio appealing to traffickers overall.
Among the others she pointed out are the state's numerous truck stops and welcome centers, adult entertainment industry, conventions catering to men, large number of immigrants and easy access both from Mexico and to Canada and the eastern U.S.
The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, adopted in 2000 and reauthorized three times since, has helped the fight against trafficking through its focus on prosecution, prevention and protection, Meshelemiah said.
In that legislation, for example, the government said for the first time that children could not be considered as voluntary participants in prostitution, she said, labeling that as “an important caveat” in the law.
But other legislation, particularly immigration laws that she called discriminatory, has the opposite effect, she asserted. If more immigrants could come to the U.S. legally, there would be less danger of them being exploited, argued Meshelemiah, also a licensed social worker.
Critical services for foreigners who become trafficking victims include language interpreters, help with reintegration or repatriation and immigration assistance, she said.
They, and all other victims, need a long list of services topped by housing and food, cash assistance and protection and safety, as well as mental health and family counseling, medical care and education and vocational development, she added.
“I find no peace” in trafficking victims' lack of freedom, Meshelemiah said, calling it an “unacceptable” practice whose mere reduction “is not enough.” She urged her listeners to act through such means as presenting awareness-raising talks; joining organizations committed to addressing the problem; supporting petitions and legislation that take up the cause; giving money to agencies active against trafficking; and mentoring or fostering an at-risk teenager.
“We've got a lot of people fighting the good fight,” she said. It's saving lives, “and saving people's lives is serious business.”
Meshelemiah holds three degrees from Ohio State, including a doctorate earned in 1995. After three years at the State University of New York at Buffalo—where she began her research related to prostitution—she returned to Ohio State in 1998. She also serves as chair of the board of Rahab's Hideaway, a Columbus safe haven for victims, and those at risk, of human trafficking.
Without legislation, Hawai‘i will continue as a hub for sex crimes by Shantel Grace Young girls in Hawaii are bought and sold as easily as pizza.
They are ordered online, delivered to hostess bars, massage parlors and strip clubs and are even found wrapped up in gift boxes to be delivered to men as mail-order brides–“satisfaction guaranteed.”
It sounds like sensationalism, but it isn't. One hundred and forty-six years after passage of the 13th Amendment, humans are still being sold for huge profits. Uprooted from their homes and stripped of their human rights, girls as young as 12 years old are sold into a criminal industry that has existed since antiquity. The question is, when will slavery in Hawaii end?
What looks like prostitution is not prostitution.
What's called human trafficking is nothing less than slavery. For modern-day abolitionists like Kathy Xian, the executive director for the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (PASS), the real world war is on the streets and online, and the worst crimes are committed against women and children.
“You have to understand,” says Xian, “the human brain doesn't stop developing until around age 24 or 25. If these children suffer abuse and are recruited into this trade, it will affect their brain development. Our society blames the victim, instead of the ones who are really responsible–the pimps and the johns.”
According to International Crisis Aid statistics, between 100,000 and 300,000 children–primarily girls–are victims of the sex trade in the US. Instead of being helped, they are being prosecuted, thrown in juvenile detention and vilified. These jarring statistics mirror their shocking stories, and in Hawaii, sex slavery in hostess bars, strip clubs, sex clubs, and the buying and selling of women online, is skyrocketing. The pimps and johns run free, the sex businesses flourish, and children are abused and put behind bars.
Political theorist Hannah Arendt famously stated that “The calamity of the rightless is not that they are deprived of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or of equality before the law. Their plight…is that no law exists for them.”
This couldn't be more true in Hawaii. Victims of local sex crimes are re-criminalized due to the inexplicable lack of legislation that would otherwise protect them. Victims are often arrested and sent to jail, resulting in prostitution charges and a sentence that deprives them of the only thing they still possess–the faded possibility of a successful future. Instead, their pimp pays the $250–$1,000 fine, and they once again return to a life of fear.
First Lady Nancie Caraway, who was the director of Women's Human Rights Projects at the Globalization Research Center, says it is essential to address the “supply and demand” factors of human trafficking.
“Trafficking is a labor problem, a public-health problem, a gender issue, a migration problem and a global criminal problem,” says Caraway in an anti-trafficking task force statement. “Our own consumer habits fuel global slavery.”
Human trafficking, in its most basic definition, is a crime against humanity; it is the act of exploiting a person through the use of force, coercion or manipulation.
At its core, it is the denial of liberty for the purpose of making money off of that person.
Sometimes it takes the form of forced labor, such as the recent Aloun Farms case, and can also be the sexual exploitation of a person.
In other words, human trafficking is modern-day slavery.
Legally, the only difference between prostitution and sex trafficking is that the prostitute willingly engages in prostitution of her or his own volition.
“On a humanistic level, sex trafficking and prostitution are the same thing,” says Xian.
“But for victims of sex trafficking, there is no free will in that equation. For the main reason that you still have the problem of re-victimizing victims as criminals.”
Poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunities are compelling factors that facilitate sex trafficking, but are not the root cause.
“Incest is boot camp for prostitution,” says Xian, quoting anti-trafficking activist Andrea Dworkin. Xian adds, “When you understand what happens to the victims, or see it first hand, you can't walk away from that.”
While sexual exploitation of girls is well documented, boys are often overlooked. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), sex-trafficking can be linked to early childhood cases of incest and sex abuse, and most children are forced into the sex trade as early as age 12 or 13. By the time they're 20, almost all are addicted to drugs or dead.
Debt Bondage: Aloun Farms
FBI Special Agent Tom Simon, one of the leading investigators in the Global Horizons case– the largest human trafficking case ever charged in US history, in which 400 Thai laborers were coerced into agricultural work–says that debt bondage occurs when captive workers–whether through sex or labor–are held against their will by their employers through threats and, all too often, violence.
In a recent interview, Simon said, “In the old days, they used to keep slaves in their place with whips and chains. Today, it is done with economic threats and intimidation.”
Local immigration attorney Clare Hanusz, who represents some of the defendants in the Aloun Farms and Global Horizons human trafficking cases, says that many times, women are manipulated into thinking that they are coming for legitimate jobs and then coerced into the sex trade in the form of hostess bars, parlors, strip clubs or prostitution rings to pay their recruitment fees.
Hanusz adds that debt bondage is one of the most common ways traffickers lure young women into believing they have no other choices.
“I represented a Korean woman working in a hostess bar,” says Hanusz. “She was arrested in an enforcement raid. She wasn't charged criminally, actually she was not even working at that bar, but she was asked for identification, and all she had was a Korean passport.”
Hanusz says the woman was sent to the federal detention center and held without bond. After a phone call from another attorney, she found an interpretor and asked the Korean woman the details of how she made it to Honolulu.
“Turns out that she came here through Mexico on a raft through the Rio Grande,” she adds. “Red flag number one–that's not how Korean women typically enter the US.
“That was her trafficker's third attempt. Previously, she'd tried coming through Canada. She was coming to Honolulu to work at a hostess bar, but she did not know that was going to involve sexual services. She paid a recruiter a large amount of money. Here's another example of a debt-bondage situation.”
Hawaii is currently one of five states in America that has not passed a human trafficking state law, or laws effectively addressing human trafficking as a felony offense while protecting the victims. With current bills in legislation in South Dakota and Massachusetts, Hawaii may in fact become a trio of states remaining in which labor trafficking and sex trafficking will continue to thrive.
Xian, who has committed the last 10 years of her life to being a spokesperson for PASS, says “the law will only see what you tell it to see,” and “without proper legislation protecting the victims of human trafficking, nothing, in Hawaii, will change.”
House bills 576 and 577 would criminalize sex and labor trafficking, and Xian says that what PASS is asking for is a complete policy change.
“We want a mental, spiritual, physical paradigm shift of what [the law] historically sees as a crime, or who they see as criminals–the girls. [Law enforcers] want to retain the power, for various reasons, to choose who is a victim out of a pool of criminals. Current prostitution statutes criminalize victims.”
With the establishment of a state law, Xian says the crimes will be addressed while victims will be protected. Law enforcement will then have specific funding for programs designed to address the illegal trade and trafficking of humans. Without these statutes, citizens and law enforcement will not adequately study and assess the problem in Hawaii.
House bills 576 and 577 have been introduced, re-introduced, stalled and killed. Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran, who for many citizens is the “John Brown hope” of deciding whether or not the bill will live or die, originally decided not to schedule the bills for a hearing in time for them to reach the House floor.
In an interview, the Weekly asked him why he wouldn't schedule the bill, and what he wanted to say to those who are pointing fingers.
“I decided to hear the bills that the prosecutor said would actually help. Those are the bills that I'm pushing forward this year.”
Keith-Agaran believes the debate about human trafficking needs to be an open one. “We need to decide if we are looking at this as a law enforcement issue, or as a paradigm that all prostitutes are victims. Because that seems to be part of the underlying issue. I think law enforcement certainly isn't ready to say that [all prostitutes] are victims.”
The theory that prostitution is a choice, is something Xian fiercely disputes. She believes that to understand sex trafficking and prostitution, people must understand that when a prostituted person is treated like a criminal and arrested, their story never makes it past the first interrogative interview.
“Trust is thrown out the window,” she says, “and no substantive work can be done to track the real criminals–the pimp or trafficker who trains her to say what they want her to say, and the johns who abuse her.”
While the bills could be re-introduced next session, Keith-Agaran said they probably wouldn't make it out of his committee this year. However, in another attempt to resurrect it, Sen. Suzanne Chun-Oakland and Rep. John Mizuno revived the human trafficking bill by adding it as an amendment to HB 1003–which relates to the Penal Code–a bill introduced by the governor.
“The language that the Senate Human Services committee has placed in its Senate Draft 1 of HB 1003 has not been posted,” says Keith-Agaran. “If Sen. Chun-Oakland inserted the contents of the labor trafficking bill (HB 577), I'll look at the legislation…if it moves on towards conference, Sen. Clayton Hee's Judiciary committee will need to make a decision and return it to the House.”
Keith-Agaran adds that HD 2 of HB 1003 contained important language proposed by Gov. Abercrombie and supported by law enforcement to provide greater protection to witnesses in domestic violence cases.
“I hope that Sen. Chun-Oakland left that language intact in her Senate Draft and simply added the trafficking language,” he says.
Says Xian, “If Sen. Hee does not schedule the bill for a hearing by next Thursday (3/31), we're back in the same place, and the bill will die.”
What is the real cost?
In Honolulu a woman can sell for as little as $150 or as much as $10,000 for a single night. In countries like Thailand and Brazil, orphans and daughters from poor families have reportedly been sold as servants and sexual slaves for less than $100. After being sold in cities such as Belgrade and Yugoslavia, young girls are reportedly locked in rooms, fed one meal a day, tortured with cigarette burns and forced to have sex with up to a dozen men a day, seven days a week, until exhaustion or disease wipes out her market value. Her pimp makes his money back in less than a week.
In Victor Malarek's book, Inside the New Global Sex Trade , he points out that prostitution sprang up in Bosnia in 1995 to serve the United Nations troops. Malarek highlights the irony of these supposed “emissaries of civilization” feeding a barbaric industry. The author gives descriptions of 60-year-old US military officers showing up at social events with their 14-year-old sex slaves.
In 2008, Nidia Casati of the International Organization for Migration, which helps sex slaves return home, said that Bosnian women are “bought and sold constantly. They sell women like animals.”
She reports that the young girls are forced to pay off the cost of their own sale. They earn from “$50 an hour to $500 for a night, but are paid between $100 and as little as $13 a month.”
Future of Hawaii
Without legislation, Hawaii will continue as an international hub for sex crimes. Young girls will be trafficked throughout Honolulu, and what was once a family-tourism destination will become a sex-tourism destination.
It is the girl, repeatedly forced into sex that is put behind bars. Until lawmakers are awakened to the horrors inflicted by human trafficking, the war on slavery in Hawaii will persist.
“I was told by an acquaintance that I could work at his restaurant. I decided to accept his offer as I thought my family might improve their life if I sent them my salary. Soon after my arrival, I realized that I was sold. My life since then has been like that of an animal.
I was sold three times. I begged my last owner to let me go home but she said I owed her lots of money that I had to pay back by sleeping with customers. I was always scolded and forced to do all kinds of terrible things.
It is impossible to describe how horrible and miserable my life was. For six and a half months, I was totally controlled by her. Every day I had to go out and sleep with men. I had no physical or spiritual freedom. She threatened that wherever I escaped to, I would be traced and killed and so would my parents in Thailand.”
Bill would post missing person alerts on highway signs
Dover, Del. —
Legislation introduced last week in the House of Representatives would step up efforts to get the word out about missing seniors and persons with disabilities.
Sponsored by Rep. Brad Bennett, D-Dover South, House Bill 51 would expand the “Gold Alert” program that broadcasts notices about missing seniors, those with disabilities and those who may be suicidal. Currently, once police verify that such a person is missing, the law-enforcement agency sends an alert to Delaware media with pertinent information. Under HB 51, the Department of Transportation would also display information about the missing person on its variable message signs along roadways.
The Gold Alert program is similar to the Amber Alert, which spreads notices about missing children.
“This is just an additional outlet to reach tens of thousands of people traveling on Delaware roads to hopefully locate missing persons sooner and safer,” said Bennett. “We need to look out for and protect those in society who most need our help.”
Several other states already utilize message boards to broadcast missing person alerts, including Colorado, Florida, Rhode Island, Ohio and Virginia.
El Monte day care center abused disabled adults, lawsuit alleges
The families of eight mentally disabled adults sue an El Monte day care center — and government agencies — for allegedly failing to investigate their complaints properly. An official with the center denies the allegations and calls the proceedings 'a witch hunt.'
by Lisa Girion, Los Angeles Times
March 23, 2011
The families of eight mentally disabled adults on Tuesday sued an El Monte day care center and government agencies for allegedly failing to properly investigate their complaints about verbal, physical and sexual abuse at the facility.
The families said they had complained to managers at the center, formerly known as Healthy Start, and government authorities that their adult children were delivered home late — sometimes with bruises, scratches and skin rashes — and that they had turned sullen, fearful and withdrawn. Some of the disabled clients told their families they had been molested or otherwise abused, according to the suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Earlier this year, a former day care employee, Juan Fernando Flores, pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the molestations of three women clients. But the lawsuit alleges that the neglect and abuse extended beyond a single employee and the three molested women.
The lawsuit accuses the day care center of failing to look into the complaints properly and notify authorities as required by law — a charge the center calls unfounded.
"They can't substantiate anything, but they won't stop," said Kimberly Upchurch, program director at the center now known as New Day, who started working there in November. "We have all our documented paperwork that we did contact the different agencies that we were supposed to contact. This whole thing has been a witch hunt."
Upchurch said she has increased supervision, installing security cameras and hosting parent meetings every other month. She said she believes the complaints were stirred by a disgruntled former employee and may be propelled by a desire by the families to enrich themselves through litigation.
The lawsuit was spearheaded by Consejo de Latinos Unidos, a community organization, which received complaints last year from the brother of a 25-year-old man with Down syndrome identified in the suit as "Ruben O."
Ruben O., the suit says, was "subjected to continual abuse by Healthy Start employees … roughly handled and forced into a restroom by an employee." The lawsuit says the restroom incident never was reported to the appropriate authorities.
K.B. Forbes, executive director of Consejo de Latinos Unidos, said the families' primary motivation was to "shut this place down for negligence and for ignoring their concerns," although the lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and compensation for medical expenses.
Rita Walker, deputy director of community operations for the state Department of Developmental Services, said the department received reports about the criminal molestation case from the regional centers that organize care for clients. She said the state placed the day care center on probation after the Flores matter came to light and required it to make changes. Among the changes were increased supervision, according to a regional center official.
"We take all allegations of abuse against any person with developmental disabilities very seriously," Walker said.
SLAVERY IN NEW YORK: One of the last remaining sex
shops in the area is viewed along Eighth Avenue on
Dec 6, 2010 in New York City. The sex industry is one
of the main channels for human trafficking in the city.
New York City: Point of Entry for Human Trafficking in US
by Gidon Belmaker
Epoch Times Staff
Mar 22, 2011
NEW YORK—Officially, slaves in the U.S. were freed in 1865, but a modern form of slavery, human trafficking, is still prevalent. New York City is one of the centers of this modern form of slavery.
New York City is both an entry point for people who are trafficked into the United States, and a destination for it, said Sonia Ossorio, executive director of the National Organization for Women in NYC and a leading member of the New York State Anti- Trafficking Coalition.
It is hard to get a clear picture of the scope of this crime. Statistics are difficult to track; most are rough estimates. Some estimates claim that 18,000 people are trafficked into the United Stated every year, said Ossorio, adding that other statistics claim that approximately 3,000 minors are trafficked in the sex industry in the city. Most of the trafficked people are women.
There are several kinds of modern day slavery. The main form is labor trafficking, where a person is forced or threatened to perform a job. This type of trafficking is common in the restaurant industry and agriculture. Sex trafficking is another major category within labor trafficking and it is one of the main forms of human trafficking in the city.
The life of trafficked people varies greatly depending on their situations, said Ossorio. Some, lured by traffickers, pay a large sum of money to come to the United States. The debt is then used to chain them to the traffickers. “While those people are walking around town, they won't be running to a police station. They are victims of trafficking none the less,” she said.
For others, life can be harsher, said Ossorio. In the city there are Asian operations that keep women imprisoned in cramped apartments, where no one can leave. Every few days, the women will be hauled into a van and taken to a different part of the city, or beyond, to perform sex services in brothels.
How To Recognize Human trafficking
There are a few red flags that might indicate a case of human trafficking:
1.Restrictions on freedom of movement of the worker
2.Especially long work hours
3.Little or no pay
4.Harsh working conditions
5. Security measures in the work area
6.Worker exhibits fear, anxiety
7.Poor physical health
8.The worker has signs of physical or sexual abuse
9.The worker is not in control of his money or identification documents
10.The worker cannot speak for himself
11.The worker has numerous inconsistencies in his or her story
A TOUGH BATTLE
Fighting human trafficking is made difficult by virtue of the fact that it is not always clear whether a crime is human trafficking or not. Fighting this type of crime, on a large scale, requires the cooperation of many agencies: local, state, and federal.
If you observe some of these signs please call the Polaris Project's National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 .(source: Polaris Project) Since 2006, New York City has had an anti-human trafficking task force, which serves as a way to share information between city agencies and relevant nonprofits.
According to the city, the task force has, in cooperation with the mayor's office, partnered with enforcement entities to provide services to trafficking victims; conducted multiple citywide multidisciplinary training sessions; helped pass the groundbreaking New York State Anti-Trafficking law passed in 2007, and created a resource directory for victims and service providers.
Last year, the city launched an awareness campaign for human trafficking. Through the city's website , one can find the different organizations that provide assistance and services to victims of human trafficking. These are community and faith-based organizations throughout the city.
Safe Horizons for example, provides assistance to victims—women, men and children —of human trafficking. It is a hard battle, even for Safe Horizons, the largest anti-human trafficking service in the east coast.
Safe Horizon's anti-human trafficking has managed to help only 360 people in the New York metropolitan area since 2001. These 360 victims originate from more than 60 countries.
“A lot of the victims do not describe themselves as trafficking victims. They don't even know that,” said Ossorio, describing one of the many reasons fighting human trafficking is difficult.
Foreigners who have paid large sums of money for a chance to come to the United Stated, and are then trapped, do not know they are victims, said Ossorio. Even American girls, lured by pimps and then abused and beaten for not reaching a quota, do not consider themselves slaves, she added.
An indication of the veiled nature of the crime can be found in the number of people who seek assistance from the national trafficking hotline. The Polaris Project operates a nationwide, 24-hour hotline for victims of human trafficking and concerned citizens who want to report a tip.
In 2010, calls to the hotline from New York State—including victim calls and tips, but also general information inquiries, totaled 409.
“We really all need to take part in it,” said Ossorio. “It is going to take civic participation to open people's eyes to the fact that human trafficking is happening. I am optimistic because a lot of work had gotten under way. But there are still a lot of hearts and minds to change,” she said.
Bill to slow sex trafficking in Colorado passes committee
The Senate Judiciary Committee took one step yesterday toward ending sex trafficking in Colorado, a crime that many do not know exists but which traps girls, many of them born and raised in Colorado, at an average starting age of 12 to 14 years old.
After some debate about the amount of the fine, the committee voted 9-0 in favor of the bill.
“I'm happy that it has bipartisan support,” said Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, sponsor of the bill.
Powerful testimony about human trafficking and prostitution gripped the room for nearly two hours. Beth Klein, a Boulder attorney who helped write the bill and has been asked to work on similar legislation in other states as well as several other countries, gave the first testimony in support of the bill.
“Everybody here will benefit, so we don't have our middle school girls–our 14-year-old girls in north Denver and Aurora, who comprise the supply–we won't have to see their lives being trashed,” she said, adding that if the effort is successful, it can be expected to yield a 40-percent reduction in prostitution.
SB-85 would give first-time offenders the option to attend a “john school” and pay a fine, which would then be a source of funding for training programs to help victims recover and move on with their lives. Marian Hatcher, a former trafficking victim who helped start a similar program in Chicago and came to Denver to speak at the hearing, said prostitution is not a victimless crime, as many believe.
“You can ask my five children, who were wondering where their mother was while I was being trafficked,” she said. She told the committee that she became a victim herself at the age of 38. She faced seven years in prison, but she was given an opportunity to participate in a diversion program. “That was tough,” she said, but it was worthwhile, and she's now working to combat the problem in Cook County, Illinois.
The Colorado bill seeks to create a similar system: to provide opportunity for the victims while punishing the individuals who are creating the demand.
“This year we're focusing on demand because unless we look at the demand side and have people really think about having serious consequences for contributing to this problem, then we'll never solve it,” Klein said. “This is now going to be the cutting edge of the demand-side piece.”
The fine was originally proposed, in an amendment to the bill, to be set at $10,000 but there was concern, primarily from Republican Senators Kevin Lundberg, Berthoud, and Steve King, Grand Junction, that such a high fee would ultimately run contrary to the intended effect and instead drive johns into the court system, rather than see them paying the fine.
But Hatcher said in her opinion, the amount of the fine is appropriate.
“Men are willing to pay,” Hatcher said. “Since we began this, we have had one out of the 101 [johns] go to the administrative hearing process. The rest of them are pulling out their credit cards and their checkbooks, and want to go home.”
Recidivism rates tend to be high when the consequences are minimal, but have dropped in places around the country that, like Cook County, have a “john school” program similar to what SB-85 would set up.
The committee focused some questioning on the amount of the fine, and ultimately settled on allowing judges to set fines between $5,000 and $10,000. Shaffer was reluctant to go lower than that.
“I don't want to give courts so much latitude that they don't hammer these guys,” he said.
The amount of the fine is already a topic being discussed online, lending support to the idea that it is an effective deterrent. Klein wrote in an email after the hearing, “It's clear the proposed fine is already having an impact based upon the chatter in the pimp chat rooms and the feedback that Johns will not offend with this type of a consequence.”
There was one testimony in opposition to SB-85 from Billie Jackson, who spoke on behalf of the Sex Workers Outreach Project.
The rest of the testimonies were in support of the bill. Detective Brent Struck from the Lakewood Police Department spoke about the magnitude of the problem. Between 2007 and 2011, he said 36 child prostitution victims have been identified in Lakewood, most of them born in Colorado and most of them quite young. He said he interviews every victim and almost every girl tells him that she engaged in her first act of prostitution between the age of 12 and 14.
Sergeant Daniel Steele, supervisor of the vice team at the Denver Police Department, said that about $60 million is spent on prostitution in the Denver metro area alone, and that his department averages 375 prostitution arrests a year, but only about 150 john arrests–and that in those cases, they typically spend one night in jail and pay a $200 fine. The consequences are minimal, too many are avoiding punishment at all, he said, and the tools available to fight the crime are clearly insufficient.
“The Denver Police Department right now is looking for innovative ideas to curb prostitution,” he said. Every year, “our average is going to be 375 prostitution arrests. Does that mean that we're making a difference? It doesn't. Pretty much what we do all year long, we're going to come up with about the same numbers, so we need to do different things.”
The next step for the bill is to go to the full Senate for debate and discussion, which could happen as early as Friday.
In an address to the U.N. General Assembly President Bush said:
“Each year, an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 human beings are bought, sold or forced across the world's borders. Among them are hundreds of thousands of teenage girls, and others as young as five, who fall victim to the sex trade. This commerce in human life generates billions of dollars each year — much of which is used to finance organized crime. There's a special evil in the abuse and exploitation of the most innocent and vulnerable. The victims of sex trade see little of life before they see the very worst of life, an underground of brutality and lonely fear. Those who create these victims and profit from their suffering must be severely punished. Those who patronize this industry debase themselves and deepen the misery of others. And governments that tolerate this trade are tolerating a form of slavery.”
This tragic form of slavery is not just a problem “over there,” in third world countries far removed from us. On the contrary, it is happening right in our own backyard. Despite laws criminalizing it, sex trafficking is a huge problem in America.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) highlights the fact that sex trafficking of children is largely under-reported in their estimate that 1 in 5 girls are sexually abused or assaulted before they become adults and 1 in 10 boys, however less than 35% of those cases are reported.
“Victims of domestic minor sex trafficking are frequently processed as juvenile delinquents or adult prostitutes. Prostituted juveniles are trained by their trafficker/pimp to lie to authorities and are provided with excellent fraudulent identification resulting in their registration in the arrest records as an adult… Due to the unique trauma bonding that occurs between a victim and her trafficker, these children often run from juvenile facilities right back to the person that exploited them.”
The National Institute of Justice says it is estimated that 96 to 98 percent of victims are in need of basic amenities for survival: food, housing, transportation, etc.
In response to this many states have introduced legislative initiatives to promote awareness and support to those brutalized by sex trafficking.
The figures below will give you an idea of the state of sex trafficking laws in the states.
Child Sex Trade Subject of Washington Heights Forum and Film Screening
Anti-sex trade advocates are presenting a discussion about the rampant problem in Manhattan on Thursday.
by Carla Zanoni
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — City streets may no longer show obvious signs of prostitution, but the practice remains rampant in Manhattan, with the incidence of youth prostitution higher here than anywhere else in the city, according to state statistics.
Of the 2,253 children between the ages of 13 - 18 who were commercially exploited for sex in New York City in 2007, 42 percent of them were abused in Manhattan, compared to just 34 percent in Brooklyn and 18 percent in Queens, according to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
Organizers chose to target the Upper Manhattan community in response to the state's data, compiled by research group WESTAT, which found that the majority of commercially sexually exploited children under the age of 18 were female, with 67 percent of those self-identifying as Black or African American and nearly 20 percent as Hispanic.
The event will feature the screening of "Very Young Girls," a documentary that takes a look at the sex trade throughout the U.S. and is billed as an "exposé of the commercial sexual exploitation of girls in New York City as they are sold on the streets by pimps, and treated as adult criminals by police."
The film follows pimps and young girls to document "their struggles and triumphs as they seek to exit the commercial sex industry," according to the film's creators.
F.A.S.T. battles human trafficking–in our backyard
March 23, 2011
by Katelyn Snyder
An Northern Kentucky University student brings her idea and dream to life as she continues to try to raise awareness through the campus organization Fighting Against Sex Trafficking.
Fighting Against Sex Trafficking (F.A.S.T.) is a special interest student organization on campus created by Rebecca Potzner, a sophomore public relations major.
The goasl of this organization are to raise money for organizations that help victims, or potential victims, of human trafficking and to raise awareness that the human trafficking is still a problem today, even in the United States.
Potzner had the idea to start this organization in high school after she attended a Christ in Youth conference where she first saw the movie “Baht.” This movie is about a girl in Cambodia who was told that she was being taken to a restaurant job, but instead, she was taken to a brothel and forced into prostitution.
“It's hard to explain what I felt when I was watching the video, but at the end I knew I had to do something about it,” Potzner said. “Working against sex trafficking has become something dear to my heart.”
Potzner explained that in high school, she and a group of friends had the idea to start F.A.S.T., but they all went their separate ways. She didn't want the idea to die, so she started the organization at NKU in the spring of 2010. She said she thought NKU would be a perfect place to start raising awareness.
“With NKU being so close to Ohio, there could be such a huge impact on people because Ohio is in the top 12 states with the largest trafficking problem,” Potzner said.
Sharlene Lassiter Boltz, a professor of law at NKU and a member of Partnership Against Trafficking Humans, also said she believes that students need to be further educated about human trafficking. She explained that getting more information to college students about human trafficking is important because they need to become more observant, informed citizens.
P.A.T.H. of Northern Kentucky seeks to increase public and professional awareness of human trafficking and increase the number of traffic victims identified, rescued, protected and served in Kentucky. It is a synergy of various social service agencies, law enforcement, public and private attorneys, and non-governmental agencies committed to the anti-trafficking movement.
“Human trafficking is the second largest money maker worldwide, second to drug trafficking.” Lassiter Boltz said. “The key components of human trafficking are force, fraud and coercion. That's how victims get trapped.”
Lassiter Boltz and Potzner are both advocates for bringing knowledge about this topic to the students of NKU and the surrounding community. Both women have a passion and drive to fight against human trafficking.
Students interested in joining the movement can contact Potzner at firstname.lastname@example.org, or they can join F.A.S.T. on http://nku.orgsync.com
FBI announcement of kidnapped or missing people update
by Joel Hendon
FBI News Examiner
March 22, 2011
The FBI has just added a new missing child to their list of missing persons and are hoping for public support in locating them. Please study these and if by chance you have seen one or may see one later, please notify your nearest police department or FBI office.
12 year old Isabella Oleschuk disappeared early in the morning on March 20, 2011, from her home in Orange, Connecticut. Isabella is deaf in one ear and does not have her hearing aid with her.
She may be wearing a light blue jacket, brown felt hooded cape, and black rain boots. She goes by the nickname "Bella."
Adji Desir, age 9, has been missing from outside his grandmother's residence in Immokalee, Florida, since Saturday, January 10, 2009, at approximately 5:30 p.m. Adji reportedly went outside to play with neighborhood kids after dinner. He was reported missing a little while later and his whereabouts remain unknown. Adji was last seen wearing a blue and yellow t-shirt, blue and yellow shorts, and black and gray sneakers. He is mentally handicapped and functions at a two-year-old level. He is non-verbal, has a very limited vocabulary, and only understands Creole.
The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of Adji Desir.
Haleigh Cummings is 7 years old and is believed to have disappeared from her home in Satsuma, Florida, approximately 75 miles east of Gainesville, during the early morning hours of February 10, 2009. Reportedly, Haleigh was last seen asleep in her home the night before she was discovered missing.
Phylicia Simone Barnes, age 17, was last seen on December 28, 2010, at approximately 1:30 p.m., at a residence in Baltimore City, Maryland. Barnes is from Monroe, North Carolina, and was visiting relatives at the time of her disappearance. Barnes was believed to be wearing a blue pea coat with a hood, a turquoise thermal shirt, blue jeans, and white ankle-high boots. She had a tan purse with her. Barnes has acne scars on her face and a tattoo of a rose on her lower right leg.
JPSRT Team Continues to Help with Missing Persons, Uses New Tech
by Luke Short
March 22, 2011
HOPKINS COUNTY, KY—Since their inception last year, the Jodi Powers Search & Rescue Technologies team has grown to include nearly 90 members and has covered approximately 15,000-20,000 acres in an effort to help locate missing persons in the Hopkins and Muhlenberg County areas.
What's more is that the team is continuing to grow. From applying to become a state certified non-profit organization, to utilizing new, hi-tech gadgets during search efforts, the JPSRT team is making some positive strides in the way of providing knowledgeable search and rescue aid to our region.
To find out more, iSurf News sat down with pastor, full-time employee, and co-founder of the JPSRT team, Scott Heltsley, who explained how the team first started and what they have been up to as of late.
As Heltsley explains, the group was first thought up by Belinda Powers, Joel Brinkley, and himself, after Jodi Powers disappeared late last year.
“All of this came out of our idea to provide help for families when they have a loved one missing, because the police can't investigate and search all the time,” said Heltsley. “When we began, it was really just about finding Jodi, and as we saw the need increase, it became about helping families on a broader scale. Of course, if the police ever need our assistance, we're ready to help as well.”
In an effort to help find 2 people currently missing from our region—Rodney “Bo” Hale and Scotty Wayne Bryant—the JPSRT team has remained quite busy during the past few months, yet new technology, in-depth training with an experienced Texas-based search and rescue group (Texas Equusearch), and great support from the community has helped the team to utilize a variety of new search techniques.
As Heltsley explains, the team was recently presented with a powerful Side-Scan Sonar Unit from Barbara Wiles of Winding Creek Bait Shop. Out of generosity, Wiles obtained the unit for a much lower price and is allowing the JPSRT team to pay for it in installments over time.
“The Side-Scan Sonar Unit is a GPS guided sonar system that will scan underwater 240 feet to the left and right of your boat at the same time,” says Heltsley, “After it scans, it sends back detailed images that are a very close replication to everything that's on the bottom. For example, you can see the limbs on trees that are under the water. We were very fortunate to have worked out a deal with Barbara Wiles.”
Along with Wiles' support, Heltsley also noted that Potts Marine & Storage mounted the device onto the team's boat for free. In addition, donations of marine batteries, four-wheeler accessories, trailer parts, and more have been donated by a variety of local businesses and individuals as well.
With these resources and an ever-growing number of knowledgeable members at their disposal, Heltsley explained that, “If we were called in to help with an incident, we could get a crew together immediately. We could probably have about 60-70 people there overnight. I believe that we're definitely making steps in the right direction.”
In the near future, Heltsley said the team hopes to secure a remote controlled Drone Plane capable of taking high-resolution aerial photographs over an approximately 70,000 acre range. Once the photos are taken, a computer system would be capable of scanning the images for specific colors, which could be linked to missing persons' clothing descriptions, says Heltsley. In addition, Heltsley also noted that the team may be receiving equipment from the US military in upcoming months as well.
In regard to upcoming events, Heltsley noted that May 25th is National Missing Persons Day and that the team is planning something for local families dealing with a missing loved one or friend.
If you have any information as to the whereabouts of Hopkins County resident Rodney “Bo” Hale, Muhlenberg resident Scotty Wayne Bryant, or Christian County resident Christopher Frank Robinson, please contact your local law enforcement immediately.
Wisconsin Man Charged with Sexual Exploitation of Minor in Belize
WASHINGTON - Today a grand jury in the Eastern District of Wisconsin returned a one-count indictment against U.S. citizen Roland J. Flath for traveling in foreign commerce and engaging in and attempting to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor less than 18 years of age, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney James L. Santelle of the Eastern District of Wisconsin; John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric J. Boswell.
According to court documents, Flath, 71, of Wisconsin, allegedly traveled to Belize in July 2006 and subsequently sexually molested a minor girl from Belize. Flath was originally charged by a criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of Wisconsin in October 2010. He was arrested by the Guatemalan National Civil Police on Feb. 20, 2011, expelled to the United States and arrested in the United States by ICE agents and the U.S. Marshal Service.
Flath faces a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Charges against Flath for aggravated assault of a minor are also pending in Belize.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Penelope Coblentz of the Eastern District of Wisconsin and Trial Attorney Mi Yung Park of CEOS. This case is a result of investigative efforts led by ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Milwaukee and the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security's Regional Security Office in Belize, with the assistance of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security's Regional Security Office in Guatemala, ICE HSI's Attache Office in Guatemala, the U.S. Marshal Service and the Belize Police Department.
Many of you have asked us on our Facebook page why state police did not issue an Amber Alert when 8 year old Ashlee Samagaio turned up missing in Sullivan, IN.
Each missing person case must meet four criteria in order for an Amber Alert to be issued.
First, the child must be under 18.
Second, the child must have been abducted and believed to be in danger.
There must be sufficient information for the media to broadcast.
And a police agency must request one.
"There are thousands of missing children in the U.S. each day,” said Indiana State Police Sergeant Joe Watts. “If we were to issue an Amber Alert for every case, there would be an Amber Alert every 45 minutes, 365 days a year. If you have that many Amber Alerts going on with that loose criteria, people begin to not listen to the warnings. We want to make sure here in Indiana we stick to the criteria. So when you do hear an Amber Alert, you know something's wrong because the criteria has been met."
Sergeant Watts says in cases like Ashlee's, local media like NBC 2 News will put out any information to help the public find missing children.
100,000 U.S. minors trafficked for sex each year, some in East Texas
(Video on site)
U.S. — Studies show more than 100,000 minors are trafficked for sex in the U.S. every year, some right here in East Texas.
It's a multi-billion dollar industry only topped by the illegal drug and arms trades.
One East Texan, Mandy Glasscock, says she makes candles and gives the profits to "For the Silent" organization. "For the Silent" is building a shelter in East Texas, which will be the first safe home for trafficked victims in the state. "When I started making them, I realized how many people didn't realize sex trafficking goes on here," Glasscock says.
Senator John Cornyn proposed a bill that would create six similar shelters nationwide. Cornyn's bill also gives law enforcement tools needed to investigate and prosecute the pimps and traffickers.
Becky Henderson with East Texas Crisis Center says, "These kids are actually victims, not criminals, which can be very hard to distinguish. It's not an easy job."
Unnamed officials in Smith County tell us they have child sex cases in and around Tyler, but it often looks like regular prostitution. They also say officers aren't recognizing or prosecuting the trafficking because they're not trained to deal with it. Henderson says, "They keep these kids on the move. They're not in any one location for very long, so it makes it difficult to find them."
Henderson tells us she has worked with trafficked minors. She says it can happen in several situations, like when a young boy or girl runs away from home, or is asked to do modeling from someone at the mall.
She says once they are isolated from everyone, drugs and manipulation are used to keep the minors in the trafficking system. Traffickers will often threaten the children with killing their families if they try to return home. Drugs are also used to keep the victims from leaving.
"There's a lot of brainwashing. Eventually what can happen is that one minor can be used to bring in other minors," says Henderson.
Sources also tell us minors are sold on websites several different times, and the average age of those victims are 12-14 years old.
Cornyn's bill would give $2-$2.5 million for victims shelters, clothing/daily needs for victims, counseling, training for law enforcement, police officer salaries, and several other things to stop what some call "Modern Day Slavery."
The bill passed in the Senate, but was held up in the House when anti-abortion lawmakers characterized the bill as abortion-related.
Barrington, Illinois High School teacher Kathe Keeler partners with Purse of Hope.
by Morgan Delack
Nearly 27 million people are victims of human trafficking each year.
Many of those victims are young girls being sold for sex in Uganda. A non-profit organization has teamed up with Barrington High School to do something about it.
Barrington High School social studies teacher Kathe Keeler is working with Purse of Hope Founder Kristen Hendricks to teach high school students about the injustices faced by women in third-world countries.
Hendricks' organization raises money to buy the sex trafficked women away from their pimps and provides aftercare for them.
“I met Kristen a while ago,” Keeler said. “We started thinking about doing something with the high school. She came to my classes and spoke last January, but I said let's have this be an intro and I'll work it into my curriculum next semester.”
After Hendricks' first visit, many students were eager to get involved in the organization, and the Purse of Hope club was born. The club raises money by selling t-shirts and jewelry made by girls at its partner school, Gulu School in Uganda.
“They have a side job where they make recycled beads out of paper and make all kinds of beautiful jewelry,” Keeler said. She also explained where the name Purse of Hope came from. “They used to make purses, now they make jewelry which is less time consuming and they can sell for a lot more.”
Although the club is still in its infancy, the members have already made a huge impact by raising enough money to save one girl from sex trafficking.
“It costs about $2,500 to save one girl. What that includes is to actually buy her away from her brothel,” Keeler explained.
Buying the girl away from her pimp could cost as little as $15, but the bigger costs involved include providing housing, food, clothing, medical expenses and schooling for every person rescued.
“Just the small amount that has been initiated has already rescued one girl,” Hendricks said. “I expressed to the kids how easy it was to make a difference because we literally saved a life just based on selling the t-shirts and bracelets.”
Keeler's social studies classes and the Purse of Hope club are also forming friendships with the women at the Gulu School by communicating with each other through blogs and Skype.
“It's really a positive interaction in terms of friendship building and relationship building,” Hendricks said.
Keeler's classes and the Purse of Hope club primarily help the women in Uganda live better lives. However, the organization is also helping the Barrington students in a very different way.
“This helps my kids see how lucky they truly are,” Keeler said.
In Conneticut, Law shifting to punish traffickers, not children
There's a bill before the General Assembly that would require, for the first time, that police notify the Department of Children and Families when minors are found involved in sex trafficking in the state.
When most people learn that the average age of a “prostituted” child is 12 for girls, 14 for boys, they become outraged. When told that between 300,000 to 600,000 juveniles are prostituted in the United States yearly, most ask: Who is buying our children?
The better question is: Who is standing up for them?
Two Republican lawmakers from Georgia — State House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey and fellow state Rep. Buzz Brockway — are.
“Right now, there are hundreds of girls across Atlanta and this region waiting in hotel rooms to be purchased by men on the Internet,” Brockway recently said on the House floor during a debate about the proposed tougher laws.
And now, here at home, the issue is gaining attention in Connecticut's General Assembly.
There's been a marked cultural shift in attitude regarding prostituted children, now recognized to be an object, a victim — a slave to a pimp or an impoverished parent.
However, there remain the naysayers who hang onto old paradigms, convincing themselves — or their consciences — that children sell themselves because prostitution was their No. 1 career choice in elementary school, or they enjoy having sex with a multitude of strange adults.
States are now beginning to make it tougher on traffickers, pimps and johns, and easier on the underage victim by rewriting laws. The effort here in Connecticut appears to be heading in that direction.
In New York, Illinois and Washington, safe harbor laws were developed under which prostituted children can find safety and shelter, instead of arrest and detainment.
The Georgia House recently passed the most defiant legislation in the country, imposing higher fines and longer sentences for pimps and johns, including a minimum 25-year prison sentence for coercion of someone younger than 18, making it more difficult for the sellers and buyers to use the excuse, “I didn't know her age,” or claim that the victim was “willing and able.”
Neither excuse would hold up in court.
People are working hard trying to change laws to protect children and punish those who prey on them.
A shift in consciousness has been awakened in our hearts, with many now coming to the realization that the “oldest profession” may very well be “the oldest oppression.”
Center for Missing Persons to hold conference in Wilmington
by Brian Freskos
The CUE Center for Missing Persons is holding its seventh annual National Round Table Conference from March 24-27 at the Holiday Inn Conference Center on 5032 Market Street in Wilmington–and everyone is invited.
“In a nutshell, the goal of this event is to offer elite training in an effort to improve services and resources that are so desperately needed by families suffering from the loss of a missing loved one,” the center's Web site says. “The four day event will focus on improving communication among agencies, learning about each other's services, exchanging ideas, and creating a unified support system for victims. The conference will also feature professional educators, training techniques, and introduce tools and new technologies useful in investigations of missing person cases.”
Police are seeking assistance in locating a missing senior citizen.
The St. Joseph Police Department, along with the Kansas City Police Department Missing Persons Unit, issued a Nixle alert at 3:15 p.m. Monday seeking information that can help safely locate 75-year-old Prentice Jiles.
Mr. Jiles suffers from dementia and is considered an at-risk missing person.
He was last seen at 6 p.m. Sunday leaving the VA Hospital in Kansas City.
Police said information obtained during the investigation suggests he was in St. Joseph this morning.
Mr. Jiles is a black man, 5 feet tall and weighing 160 pounds. He has brownish-gray hair and brown eyes.
Mr. Jiles drives a 2005 silver Buick LeSabre with Missouri disabled license plate BW09R.
If you have information on Mr. Jiles' whereabouts, please call 911.
The Kansas City Police Department Missing Persons Unit also may be contacted at (816)234-5136.
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Silver City Police Department are looking for a missing teen last seen Halloween night.
Police responded to a missing person complaint Wednesday November 3, 2010.
David J. Ortiz Jr. was reported missing by his family.
Officers were informed that Ortiz Jr. was last seen leaving his grandmothers home on Halloween Night, Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 5:00 PM to go trick or treating with friends and has not been seen or heard from since.
Officers have interviewed many of his friends, and other persons when leads are phoned in. Friends of Mr. Ortiz Jr. have stated that they have not heard or seen him since Halloween.
Officers have followed up on many leads that have been received from the public and his family.
“Information that has been received by the department is vigorously followed up on, but unfortunately for the family and Ortiz Jr. we have not been able to locate him” said Chief Reynolds. “wW are once again asking the public for help in locating Mr. Ortiz Jr.. If anyone has any information about Mr. Ortiz Jr. please call the Silver City Police Department at 575-538-3723 .”
Grant County Crime Stoppers has offered a $1,000.00 reward for any information leading to finding Mr. Ortiz Jr. You can remain anonymous.
The Silver City Police Department will continue to investigate this missing persons complaint.
David Ortiz Jr. is 19 years of age, 5' 0”, 110 lbs with brown hair and brown eyes.
Ortiz Jr. was last seen wearing brown steel toed boots, black shorts, a blue long sleeve sweater with a black T-shirt over it. Mr. Ortiz Jr. also has a scare in the center of his chest.
An Oregon man is accused of helping a 13-year-old girl run away from home.
Oregon State Police and the Maui County Police Department say they worked together to arrest 20-year-old Jordan Pratt in Maui.
A trooper took a missing persons report earlier this month about the teen. Detectives determined she and Pratt took a one-way flight from Portland to Maui, where they checked into a resort in Kaanapali.
Maui police say they contacted Pratt at the resort Friday night and found the teen asleep in a bedroom.
They turned her over to Child Protective Services, where she'll be until she can be returned to her parents.
Police got a felony warrant for Pratt and arrested him Saturday.
He's charged with kidnapping, custodial interference and sex abuse.
He's currently behind bars in Hawaii waiting to be extradited back to Oregon.
Interviewing a sex trafficker - Far from being ashamed of his appalling crimes, he bragged about them and didn't seem to think he had done anything wrong.
Ross Kemp on the scandal of human trafficking
by Alun Palmer
STARING into this man's cold eyes was a sickening experience as he boasted of becoming a girl's boyfriend – just to force her into the sex trade.
The shocking thing for me was how he could treat another human being as a football to be kicked from one pimp to another. And be proud about it.
I met him in his cell where he is serving a long sentence for trafficking women. Far from being ashamed of his appalling crimes, he bragged about them. And he didn't seem to think he had done anything wrong.
I have travelled the world exposing the dark side of human nature but for the first time I decided to turn to Britain to see how an international trade brings misery here.
It turns my stomach that women and particularly children are trafficked into the UK for sex.
In ordinary streets across the country there are women who have been sold into the sex trade.
It affects children, teenagers and adults. But it is a hidden world that is difficult to break into. My meeting with the sex trafficker took place in Romania where I travelled to find some of the gangs that are responsible for the sick trade.
They target vulnerable women, offering them the chance of a new life abroad. The victims turn up at airports thinking they are set to start a good job. But they are flown to Britain and forced into prostitution.
I met many criminals involved in the trade. The women's lives mean nothing to them. Pimps gamble with each other – and the girls are the prizes. They are just treated like mere betting chips.
We don't know how many people have been trafficked into the UK illegally as part of this multi-million pound industry.
Many of the girls work seven days a week. Some brothels open at 9am on a weekday and don't close until the early hours of the morning. Some of the girls have sex with 40 men in a day, sometimes more. The conditions they work in are truly horrendous. One girl I heard about had an abortion in the morning and serviced 12 men in the afternoon.
What I also found shocking was how many women were involved in the acquisition and pimping of other women.
Husbands use their wives to con girls into travelling to the UK. The wives then hold them here until the victims can be sold for sex.
Often the gangsters force themselves on the poor girls while wives are watching.
Some countries are now more aware about what is going on, particularly in Eastern Europe, and now there is better dialogue between the country where the girls are from and the places they are sent.
People-trafficking is modern day slavery. There are more slaves today than there were at the height of the slave trade.
You would have hoped that we would have moved on from the 1700s – but it looks like we have stood still. At best.
There is always going to be demand for sex and I am not making a judgment about men who pay for it – as long as they do it with the knowledge that the other person is there of her own free will.
Sadly, sex slaves are not the only victims of human-trafficking.
One of the raids I went on was to a marijuana factory where we found a young Vietnamese man.
He is one of the teenagers who has been promised a new life in this country – but the new life is worse than the old one.
Sometimes their parents use all their savings to get them here, thinking they are going to send money home from a good job.
But this boy was locked in a huge drug-making factory, tending to the cannabis plants.
In one road in Greenwich, a nice part of South East London, there were three factories.
You wouldn't have noticed it or smelt it because the systems they use are so advanced. And in each one there was a young lad locked inside tending to the precious crops.
They can hardly speak English but they have all been trained by the gangs that own them to say “I am 15” so they are not treated as an adult by the police.
These kids are young and when found by officers are taken in by social services and eventually released. But they drift back into crime because they have little alternative.
They don't know how to speak English so they go back to the only thing they know – within months they are back locked up with hundreds of marijuana plants.
Let's not forget also that some people are held in domestic servitude.
There are a lot of farmers out there, as well as others in the agricultural sector, who need to take a good, hard look at themselves and the things they do.
You only have to remember back to the cockle pickers who died in Morecambe Bay in 2004.
Some bosses believe they can't afford to employ someone legitimately – so they employ them illegally. And it's going to get worse as the economic troubles continue to grip the nation.
The problem is a tough one for police to crack.
Language and cultural barriers make it very difficult to get inside many communities, particularly those from Nigeria, China and south east Asia.
Police forces are already understaffed and the levels are set to be cut back even further, so their difficulties will get worse.
This modern-day slavery must end and we have to make sure the resources are there to stop such an evil trade.
The Mirror has joined forces with End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes, and The Body Shop, to urge our readers to sign a petition demanding an end to sex trafficking.
Group wants safe house built in Sioux Falls for women at risk for human trafficking crime
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A safe house is planned in Sioux Falls for single women who might be at risk for sex trafficking crimes.
Officials with Be Free ministries say the house is meant to offer support for victims and prevent vulnerable women from being victimized. The group is trying to find space for eight to 10 women.
Federal officials say human trafficking is one of the most profitable and fastest-growing aspects of organized crime.
Susan Omanson, founder and director of Be Free, tells the Argus Leader that sex trafficking crimes are underreported in South Dakota. She says her group sees an increase of trafficking victims in South Dakota during the hunting season and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Families of missing can find answers through online networks
March 21, 2011
by Holly Zachariah
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
The missing-person file for Chad Griffith was pretty thin.
He had bounced around from Marion and Springfield to several cities in Florida and points in between and had lost touch with family and friends.
So when his mother reported him missing in 2006 - at least eight years after she'd last heard from him - the Marion Police Department detectives investigated as much as they could, having little to go on.
On the list
Some of the most recent Ohio cases on the Doe Network:
Most recent unidentified body
Remains of a black woman discovered on Sept. 15, 2008, in Holmes County. Found off the north side of Township Road 26, about 9 feet from the roadway, an indication that the woman could have been dumped from a vehicle
Estimated date of death: May to August 2008
Estimated age and description: 25 to 45 years old, 5 feet5 inches to 5 feet 9 inches, 120 to 150 pounds
Distinguishing characteristics: Black, curly hair. Victim might have given birth at least once. She had a partial upper dental plate and two stainless-steel dental caps, with the dental work probably done in prison.
DNA is available
Contact Holmes County sheriff's office at 330-674-1936
Most recent Columbus case
White man discovered by a passer-by on March 30, 2006, in a remote wooded area bordering the Scioto River, northwest of S. High Street and Williams Road
Estimated date of death: Before December 2005
Estimated age and description: 30 to 50 years old, 5 feet 51/2 inches to 6 feet
Distinguishing characteristics: brown hair, mustache, two upper front teeth missing, wearing Converse brand tube socks
DNA is available
Contact Columbus police detective Russell Redman 614-645-4730
Ohio missing-persons cases
Most recent listed: Michael Scott Lattimer
Missing since Nov. 23, 1999, from Ridgeway in Hardin/Logan County.
A 5 feet 8 inch white man, 135 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Was 18 when he disappeared
DNA is available
Dispatch files show he was last known to be meeting a friend, a convicted felon
Contact Logan County sheriff's office at 937-592-5731
Then, during down time on a graveyard shift a few weeks back, police dispatcher Matt Cole clicked his way through the Doe Network, an online repository of unidentified remains in morgues and of unclaimed bodies that were buried as Jane or John Does. Cole found what appeared to be a match for Griffith.
The Doe Network, which is run by volunteers who cull the information from officials, families, newspaper accounts and public records, contains information on 3,734 unidentified bodies in the United States and a few hundred others from other countries. It also has information on 4,235 missing people from across the country.
The network started in 2000 and is just one of many repositories for both unidentified remains and missing-person cases. The federal government runs the online National Missing and Unidentified Missing Persons System (NamUs), which uses information only from official sources and became publicly available in 2009.
NamUs has 7,350 open unidentified-body cases in its files, including 70 from Ohio. Ninety-two of its 5,323 open missing-person cases are from Ohio.
Coroners, medical examiners and law-enforcement organizations across the country often also post the information on their websites.
Todd Matthews, the coroner of Overton County, Tenn., is a systems administrator for NamUs and one of the founders of the Doe Network.
Matthews said the number of cases posted online can seem overwhelming, but that information on unclaimed bodies and missing people can't be over disseminated.
Experts conservatively have estimated that at least 40,000 human remains have been found in the United States but never identified.
"That's a national emergency, a crisis," Matthews said. "For almost every one of those, there is someone that either is or was looking for that person and seeking answers. That's heartbreaking."
NamUs and the Doe Network help connect the dots, Matthews said.
Cole found out about the Doe Network a few years ago. In recent weeks, he dug through the online case files of unidentified bodies that he thought could have been Griffith.
He chose potential matches based on general descriptions and when and where the bodies were found. He also knew that Griffith had a tattoo of a heart on his left hand, although authorities had no picture of it.
He found five or six cases of interest, including one from Florida that looked especially promising. He asked a supervisor if he could enter Griffith's information into the Doe Network database. The network has volunteers who cross-reference the files on the missing and on the unidentified to make matches.
Within a day of entering the information, Cole got a call from Rocky Wells, the Ohio-area director for the network. Wells agreed that one of the matches looked good.
Within days, Marion Police detective Ben Graff had contacted the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County medical examiner's office to exchange fingerprint and DNA information.
Graff discovered that Griffith had been shot and killed in Tampa by a 14-year-old boy in 1998 during a drug deal gone bad. He was 20 at the time. Police there had never been able to identify him, and he'd been buried as a John Doe.
"This was it. It was the one," Cole said. "I was just glad for the family that they could get some answers. And it gives detectives in both cities some peace of mind because that's what they want: to solve mysteries."
NamUs and the Doe Network are helpful collections, but the federal DNA database run by the FBI and managed by the University of North Texas is the biggest help in matching missing people with unidentified bodies, said Sgt. Jerry Cupp, who runs the missing-persons unit in the Special Victims Bureau of the Columbus Division of Police.
Columbus police took 5,735 missing-person reports in 2010, and 90 percent of those people were found - the majority of them alive - in just two or three days, Cupp said.
The unit has six or seven unsolved missing-person cases accumulated over time, he said.
"DNA is a game-changer," Cupp said.
"Online files are nice, but what we really need to do is make sure we're doing everything we can scientifically to solve these cases."
Family of missing man asking for help in finding him
March 20, 2011
EL PASO, Texas -- The family of and El Paso man who has been missing for more than a month, now is asking for help in finding him.
According to information released by LostNMissing, Inc., a non-profit that helps families of missing persons, Matthew Ellis Keith, 36, was supposed to get on a Greyhound bus in El Paso and go to his father's home in Marshall, Texas, on Feb. 15.
Authorities said it's not clear if he boarded the bus, but he never arrived at his father's house. The family said it is worried about Keith's well being because he takes prescription medication and it's not known if he has it with him.
According to authorities, there hasn't been any activity on his bank account and he didn't have a cell phone.
Keith is described as 5 feet 11inches tall, and weighing 180 pounds, with thin, light brown hair and blue eyes. Authorities said he has two tattoos, a wizard head on an ankle and an angel with praying hands with his children's names on his top left chest.
Anyone with information is asked to call El Paso police at 915-832-4400 , or Harrison County dispatch at 903-923-4000.
8-Year-Old Ashley Sanagaio vanished just before 7:00 PM on Sunday, March 20th
Indiana State Police, FBI Looking For Missing Sullivan Child
March 21, 2011
SULLIVAN, Ind. (WIBQ) - Police, sheriff deputies, and volunteers in Sullivan have searched all night for a missing 8-year-old girl. This morning, the Indiana State Police and FBI have joined the search.
Police say Ashley Sanagaio vanished from her home on west Beech Street just before 7:00 pm Sunday evening. She was eating dinner with her father, and when he went to check on something in another room and returned, she had disappeared.
Ashley is caucasian with brown eyes and brown hair. At the time she went missing, she was wearing purple pants, a tie-dye t-shirt, and black shoes.
Sullivan County authorities requested an Amber Alert, but that request was denied by the Indiana State Police because the case does not yet meet the requirements.
Police say if you have any information you should contact them at (812)-268-4356 .
Search and Recovery Strategies for Abducted Children
Amber Alert Network Brazos Valley (AANBV), in conjunction with the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), will be hosting a 3 day Canvassing, Search and Recovery Strategies for Abducted Children training session at the Texas A&M University Riverside Campus March 21-23, 2011.
This 3 day training session aimed at preparing our local law enforcement agencies to deal with reports of abducted children will be presented by Fox Valley Technical College and the Department of Justice and will include instructors from across the United States that are recognized as experts in the field of child abduction investigations.
If you would like to speak with any of the instructors and come see the 60+ law enforcement professionals that are going to be attending this training, please call 979-777-8382 .