National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse


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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 ...

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  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.

March 2011 - Recent Crime News - News from other times

MARCH - Week 5


Lonnie Johnson, a convicted sex offender, is
charged with 21 counts of sex abuse charges,
five of which are rape of a child, five are
sodomy and seven are aggravated sex abuse
of a child. Prosecutors convinced a judge to
have a new evaluation of Johnson's competency, which will be presented to a judge on Friday.
  Accused child rapist ruled not dangerous, may be released


- Daily Herald

PROVO -- A registered sex offender who was ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial for child rape, sodomy and sex abuse is one step closer to freedom after a new mental evaluation determined he is not a danger to society.

Lonnie Hyrum Johnson, 34, earlier this month was ruled incompetent to stand trial on 21 sex-related crimes due to a cognitive disorder. The crimes were allegedly committed years ago against two child relatives. After the ruling, prosecutors responded by seeking to have Johnson civilly committed because, they argued, he is a danger to society. An initial mental evaluation of Johnson determined that he was not dangerous, but Wednesday evening prosecutors were granted an 11th-hour chance to have a new evaluation performed.

During a hearing Friday morning, however, Johnson was again ruled not to pose a danger. Utah County prosecutor Craig Johnson explained that Johnson was evaluated by three doctors. The doctors spoke with Johnson for about 15 minutes, Craig Johnson said, and looked at his cognitive disorder, his pedophilia and a drug issue. After talking with Johnson, the doctors reportedly determined that he was not a danger.

Craig Johnson said the judge could have ruled that Johnson was a danger in spite of the doctors' findings, but felt bound to defer to the opinions of the experts. Craig Johnson said the doctors' findings were influenced by Johnson's good behavior while in the state mental hospital. But he said that factoring in Johnson's good behavior in the mental hospital made little sense when considering whether or not he will sexually abuse someone in the future.

"He shouldn't be given credit for good behavior while in custody," Craig Johnson said.

Friday's ruling is a defeat for prosecutors, who will now be forced to abandon efforts to civilly commit Johnson.

"100 percent of our civil proceedings on this case are now down and no longer an option," Craig Johnson said. "Our only option now is to somehow undo the court's finding that he is unlikely to be restored to competence."

Craig Johnson plans to file a motion in court next Thursday to that end. He said that he hopes to convince the court to hold Johnson for up to two and a half more years while he is treated and hopefully restored to competency.

But according to Craig Johnson, the case is fraught with problems. He said that it is procedurally difficult to obtain a civil commitment and doctors sometimes also have too much discretion, preventing judges from considering the larger danger suspects may pose. In addition, Craig Johnson said, suspects are considered dangerous if they might commit serious bodily injury to someone else. He said that definition ignores serious emotional trauma, which is common in most child- and sex-abuse cases.

Craig Johnson said he was disappointed with the ruling Friday. He said the case keeps him up at night and is extremely frustrating.

"It really shakes me to my core," he said. "I am very frustrated that we have not been able to convince three psychiatrists and a judge that Lonnie Johnson is a danger to society."

The mother and aunt of the two victims said she also was devastated. She said that if Johnson is eventually released she believes he will abuse other girls. The decision was particularly difficult for the victim, she said, who is now an adult.

"She's frustrated," the woman said of the victim, "because not only has she been denied her day in court, but she knows it's going to happen again."

She added that she hopes prosecutors manage to come up with another strategy. If they don't, she added, other girls may suffer.

"We just can't let this happen to other girls," she said. "It ruins their lives."


  Sex trade targeted by protestors on the Las Vegas Strip

April 2, 2011

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - Las Vegas is being called one of the worst cities in the world for human sex trafficking. Saturday, people rallied on the strip to shed light on the growing problem.

In the shadows of those bright lights on the Las Vegas Strip are victims, women and children being traded for sex.

The advertisements are everywhere: magazine stands offering "barely legal blondes" and guarantees of "young women brought to your room in 20 minutes."

"Men are coming to our communities and buying the bodies of 13-year-olds," says State Assemblyman, John Hambrick.

"Would they do that back home? The answer is no, not in their own backyards. They come here to do it. And we need to stop it."

Hambrick is pushing for legislation to end illegal sex trade. He was one of many who joined the protest on the Strip. It was organized by "Not for Sale Nevada," a group dedicated to raising awareness about human trafficking.

"We want people to know there are children being prostituted on the Strip right now," says Richard Barton, a volunteer with "Not for Sale Nevada."

Their message was heard loud and clear by many of the tourists passing by.

"It's good to see them fighting for a good cause," says Gavin Davies, who's visiting from Vancouver. "I'm tired of getting all the little leaflets of half-naked young women thrown in our faces."

Davies thinks the term "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," is being taken a little too far.

"There's a difference between sex and Sin City, and illegal prostitution and the manipulation of minors."

And getting more people like Davies to stand-up against human trafficking is just what the rally set out to do.

The legislation that Assemblyman Hambrick is pushing is still working its way through the state legislature. It would create stronger penalties for pimps and the men paying for services while also helping to rehabilitate sex trade victims.


  Training is first step toward slamming brakes on sex trafficking

by Mary E. Young

Reading Eagle

READING, PA -- Learning to identify the signs of sex trafficking of minors and the people selling and buying prostitution will better prepare a community to respond if it occurs.

That was the message delivered Friday in an all-day training session that drew about 170 people from Berks County and beyond to the Bernardine Franciscan Conference Center in Millmont.

Most of the participants work in social services or law enforcement.

Speakers included experts from Shared Hope International and Polaris Project, nonprofit organizations working to prevent and eliminate sex trafficking and slavery.

District Attorney John T. Adams told the group that he doesn't think Berks has a problem with youths being forced into prostitution, but it has had one troubling case involving four girls.

Federal prosecutors are handling the case, Adams said, referring to child sex-trafficking charges against Paul S. Sewell.

Sewell, who called himself "God," is accused of running an Internet-based prostitution ring from his home in the 200 block of North 10th Street and forcing minors and adult women into prostitution.

Adams said educating people about the issues may help the community prevent sex trafficking from becoming a problem.

State Rep. David M. Maloney Sr., a Pike Township Republican, told the group that a proposed law would require certain establishments - such as truck stops, bars and bus stations - to post signs referring people to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hot line.

The federally funded hot line provided by the Polaris Project accepts tips on trafficking, connects callers with services and provides technical assistance and training for communities.

A similar measure is pending in the state Senate.

Before the training began, Leland Wiley, a detective with the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland, said the training creates a bridge between investigators and the social services workers who help the victims.

His department uses different approaches to shut down operations, including codes or occupancy permit violations.

"We also do a lot of lobbying for laws in our state," Wiley said. "We testify a lot at hearings. Our goal is to strengthen state laws."

The free training was sponsored by the Berks Coalition against Human Trafficking, Berks Women in Crisis and FREE, a local anti-trafficking group.

Bob Morrison, FREE founder, said he was pleased to see such good participation in the training.

The goal is to make sure no one gets involved in trafficking in Berks, he said.

"Other people smarter than us found out what to do," Morrison said. "All we need to do is follow in their footsteps and bring in people to make it happen."


GRIM SEX TRADE in the dock

by Abby Alford

Wales On Sunday

WALES, UK -- IRISHMAN Thomas Carroll was jailed for seven years for controlling a prostitution ring from a former vicarage in a Pembrokeshire village.

Carroll's network, which he ran from a rented house in Castlemartin, involved trafficking Nigerian women into Ireland and forcing them to work as prostitutes all over the country.

Carroll, 49, originally from Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, in the Irish Republic, had fled to Wales to avoid prosecution when he was questioned by gardai over his network of brothels, but continued to run his criminal empire along with his partner Shamiela Clark, 33, and his 27-year-old daughter Toma Carroll.

AN INVESTIGATION into Cardiff's sex trade heard how Eastern European gangs are trafficking women into the city for sexual exploitation.

A human rights organisation told a committee set up by Cardiff council how up to 60 women – from countries including Croatia, Albania, Czech Republic, Thailand, China, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria – may be involved in prostitution in the city at any one time.

Witnesses also told the committee that trafficking was a serious and growing issue in the city.

TWO men were jailed for 10 years in 2005 for bringing a woman sex slave into Britain.

The blonde 21-year-old was smuggled into Cardiff from Lithuania to be sold for £5,000 to work in brothels.

She was then forced to work in three brothels where she was expected to have sex with up to nine men a day and hand over all her earnings to the Albanian gang.

At the sentencing in Cardiff, Judge Phillip Richards told the two gang members: “Both of you were involved in an evil trade which has been described as the 21st century's slavery.”

Gang leader Akil Likcami, 20, was jailed for six years. He admitted trafficking the woman for sexual exploitation and controlling her activities as a prostitute.

His friend Gjerji Mungiovi-Cuka, 19, got four years for trafficking and being convicted of transporting the woman to various brothels in Cardiff.


The host of Newstalk's 'Global Village' show, Dil
Wickremasinghe, is running this year's Dublin Mini
Marathon in aid of abuse charity One in Four after
revealing she was an abuse victim in Sri Lanka.
  Newstalk host Dil opens heart about her 'child sex-abuse hell'


April 03 2011

As host of Newstalk's groundbreaking show Global Village, Dil Wickremasinghe fearlessly tackles a variety of thorny topics including racial discrimination, sex trafficking and institutional abuse.

But she says coming to Ireland from Sri Lanka led her to confront for the first time her own terrible secret of childhood sexual abuse that she had suppressed for years.

The abuse was committed by a maths teacher when she was a young teen but it led to a sundering of her relationship with her mother who she told about the abuse but who chose not to believe her.

Instead she sent Dil back to her abuser whose initial groping and inappropriate touching then escalated into full sexual violence.

"I am 37 now. I was 14 and was a good student despite the fact that I had moved to Sri Lanka after being born and educated in Italy. I picked up English relatively quickly and fared well in most subjects. However, as I struggled with mathematics my parents decided to send me for extra classes to a neighbour who was the principal of a local school. It was extremely important for me to pass mathematics as it was a compulsory subject, which if not passed would result in me being expelled by my school," Dil said.

She said she started going to the class, held in a neighbour's house just yards from the safety of home, along with two other classmates from school.

"The teacher was in his 60s, married, short, wore thick rimmed black glasses and smelled of cheap aftershave," she added, the details still etched on her mind more than 20 years later.

"During class he used to grab our thighs under the table. We decided to tell our parents about it as we felt very uncomfortable. My classmates were taken out of the class. However, when I told my mother she didn't believe me as she thought I was making it up so that I could avoid going to math classes.

"I returned to the class but this time I was alone with him so the abuse escalated to full sexual violence which went on for about two years, two to three times a week," she recalled.

Inevitably Dil failed maths and was expelled from school.

"My family were very upset. They felt I had let them down. They called me stupid and lazy. My father even went as far as to tell me that I didn't deserve to live so I should kill myself ... I did think about it for a while but decided to leave the family home instead."

Dil's mother was a Jehovah's Witness and sex never came up for discussion in the family.

"I still remember the day I told her and how her reaction impacted on me. When she didn't believe me I couldn't bring myself to tell anyone else. I knew that my world as I knew it had changed forever. I was very close to my mother throughout my entire childhood but after that day I have never been able to repair my relationship with her as I felt she had failed me as my guardian."

The events of those years led to conflicting emotions for Dil. "This was my first sexual experience. I remember thinking it was my fault and that I had provoked it and that I even deserved it.

"Then as time went on I used to wonder if it really happened and had it been really that bad?

"I kept thinking I should have tried harder to stop it and felt I was responsible for it. I felt a deep sense of shame and anger towards my mother and my family as the experience completely altered my life in relation to how I felt about myself.

"Because I failed academically I felt unintelligent and lacked self-confidence for a very long time. The experience robbed me of my identity -- it changed me.

Coming to Ireland proved a turning point. "Coming to this country was my salvation as for the first time I was living in a country that actually spoke about sexual abuse. I remember every time I heard of a sex-abuse story in the media the shame would rise within me like hot boiling lava and my ears would get red hot. I never wanted to address it as I was fearful of going to a therapist and having to actually talk about it.

"However, my personal life was falling apart and a friend of mine recommended the services of One in Four. Thanks to them I have been able to work through it and become the person I was always meant to be.

"I feel very lucky that I live in Dublin and that I had a close friend who was a psychotherapist who recommended One in Four to me. I think that there is still a fair bit to go in relation to creating a more accessible support service for survivors of sexual abuse especially on a national level," said Dil.

Requests to One in Four for help on sexual abuse issues have increased six-fold since the publication of the Murphy report in November 2009. More than 1,140 people contacted the organisation last year, seeking advocacy services for their interaction with the justice system -- an overall increase of 267 per cent.

As a result One In Four has introduced a new support service for families where one or more members has experienced sexual violence, and a suicide prevention programme. Funds raised by runners taking part in Dublin's Mini Marathon on behalf of One In Four on June 6 will go to the charity and both Dil and Xpose presenter Aisling O'Loughlin are taking part in the race.

Anyone interested in running for One in Four this June should visit for more details or send an email to The charity's number is 01-662 4070 .


Lawmaker Calls Bishop ‘Pedophile Pimp'


A top Republican in New Hampshire on Friday called Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester a “pedophile pimp” on his Facebook page.

The Republican, State Representative D. J. Bettencourt, the House majority leader, was responding to criticism from Bishop McCormack that state budget cuts would hurt the most vulnerable members of society.

“Would the bishop like to discuss his history of protecting the ‘vulnerable?' ” Mr. Bettencourt, a practicing Roman Catholic, wrote. “This man is a pedophile pimp who should have been led away from the State House in handcuffs with a raincoat over his head in disgrace. He has absolutely no moral credibility to lecture anyone.”

Mr. Bettencourt said in a statement that his criticism stemmed from Bishop McCormack's time as an administrator for Cardinal Bernard F. Law in Boston, where he was a top aide assigned to investigate complaints that priests had sexually abused minors. He was named bishop of Manchester in 1998.

In 2002, he was part of a settlement with state prosecutors in which the diocese acknowledged it had protected abusive priests and submitted itself to audits. The agreement halted a criminal investigation.

The diocese said Mr. Bettencourt's comments were false and defamatory. James Salt, acting director of Catholics United, a group in Washington, called Mr. Bettencourt “an embarrassment” and said his group was urging Mr. Bettencourt to retract his statements. So far, Mr. Bettencourt has stood by them, saying that the bishop had “brought shame and dishonor on my church here in New Hampshire.”



What Happened to ‘Zero Tolerance'?

A meeting of the nation's Roman Catholic bishops is scheduled for June. It needs to repair the gaping holes uncovered in their “zero tolerance” mandate for priests suspected of sexually abusing children.

A grand jury report in February found that the Philadelphia archdiocese, for all its announced safeguards, allowed 37 suspect priests to remain in parish work. The indictment of a layman and four church figures — including a monsignor accused of covering up abuse — is proof that the bishops' system of local and national review boards isn't strong enough.

Board appointees are supposedly equipped to scrutinize each diocese's adherence to zero tolerance. But the grand jury in Philadelphia found that the hierarchy there continued to protect accused priests despite repeated scandals and vows for reform.

The leader of the Philadelphia review board pointed to one major weakness: currently, any allegations about rogue priests are first vetted by chancery officials working for the archdiocese. They rightly should go directly to the review boards. This should be a universal no-brainer, along with stronger outside auditing of safeguard programs. Both were initially required, but the bishops subsequently eased that to a policy of “self-reporting” with audits every three years.

The haunting question is how many other Philadelphias may be out there.

A church review panel of laypeople formed in 2002 looked beyond zero tolerance for priests and warned that “there must be consequences” for bishops who engineered cover-ups. More than 700 priests had to be dismissed in a three-year period. But there has been nothing close to an accounting of bishops' culpability in protecting predatory priests and paying hush money to contain complaints. This is a fact for the bishops to ponder at their June meeting alongside the shocking grand jury report.


Wanted in Miami
  Miami police: Man thwarted in attempt to abduct teenage girl

by Danielle A. Alvarez

Sun Sentinel

Miami Police Department -- Yesterday, March 30th, 2011 at approximately, 7:00 A.M., a young woman was patiently sitting at the bus stop located at Northwest 42nd Avenue and 7th Street, when a Latin man, possibly 35 to 40 years of age, 5'8, 160 lbs, small build with styled hair, approached her in his 4 door hatch-back older model vehicle.

Initially, he drove by her in order to grasp her attention. The young woman ignored him and continued listening to the music on her iPod.

Minutes later, the suspect returned, except this time, he got out of the car and approached her. He began to grab her arm and tug her towards him, in an attempt to put her in his car. She held on for dear life and wouldn't let go of the bus bench as she screamed for help.

Luckily, a female walking by yelled, “stop, leave her alone”! He then let the victim go and subsequently blew her a kiss and told her he would see her tomorrow before he drove away laughing.

A sketch of the possible suspect and incident report is attached. Officials have released a sketch of a man they said attempted to abduct a 16-year-old girl earlier this week while she waited at a bus stop.

The teenager was listening to her iPod at a bus stop at Northwest 42nd Avenue and 7th Street on Wednesday at around 7 a.m. when a man drove past her in a four-door hatch-back, older model vehicle, according to the Miami Police Department.

Moments later, he returned, got out of his car and attempted to force her into the vehicle. Police said the man started to grab the girl's arm and pull her towards him as she grasped onto the bus bench and screamed for help.

A woman walking nearby screamed at the man to leave the girl alone. He then let go, police said, but then blew the victim a kiss and told her he would see her tomorrow.

The man is described to be in his late 30's, 5 feet 8 inches tall and about 160 lbs.


Kelly Rothwell and boyfriend David Perry
  Detectives continue search for Indian Rocks Beach woman

St. Petersburg, Florida
- Their relationship was strained and problematic.

He was 11 years older than her and very controlling in their relationship.

She was just beginning to speak her mind.

That's where the problems began.

David Perry hasn't answered any questions. He won't give a DNA sample, and he was the last person to see missing police cadet Kelly Rothwell alive.

Perry was Kelly's boyfriend, but fled to New York shortly after she disappeared on March 12. The question is why.

Friends say shortly before Kelly's disappearance, she felt empowered, so empowered that she was on her way to break up with him nearly two weeks ago.

She hasn't been seen since.

Did Perry have something to do with it?

Why won't he talk? If he isn't guilty, why won't he commit to a DNA sample?

So many questions, but there are very few answers at this point. Pinellas investigators find the case frustrating.

Pinellas Detective Amy Plourde tells us, "It tears at you. I want to find Kelly. I want to find her, to give the family peace. I also want to find her because she doesn't deserve to be somewhere hurt or in pain out there by herself."

Detectives tell us that Perry came back to Florida on Sunday and was cleaning out a storage unit. But they would not confirm what was he was removing from the unit. 10 News asked to look at the surveillance footage. They would not reveal it.

"He looked like he hadn't slept or eaten in several days, frazzled looking. He was nervous, absolutely he was nervous, but I don't know if he was scared or not," said Detective Mike Bailey.

Detectives are playing this case very carefully when releasing information. For example, when we asked if they were trailing Perry and watching his every move, they simply smiled and said, "We can't answer that question."

Detective Plourde added, "I think it's been in his brain that he's been watched for some time now. He's a smart guy. It wouldn't surprise me that he would say that people have had eyes on him for a few days now."

Former prosecutor Erin Wolfe says the detectives have a tough case to crack, but she says the intense media attention can help.

Wolfe said, "Can cases be prosecuted without a dead body? Of course they can. Have they been successfully prosecuted without a body? Yes, they have. But, it's an extremely difficult hurdle to overcome."

Now, all detectives can do is wait.

They served a search warrant on her condo, looking for everything from hair fibers to cell phones. They also served a warrant on his car in New York.

"I don't know if the walls closing in is a good analogy, but something close to that. I think he feels he doesn't feel that he has a whole lot of avenues to go to right now. I feel like he's kind of in a corner," says Plourde.


Leighton Martin Curtis
  Tamarac man charged with prostituting teen

April 1, 2011

by Linda Trischitta

Sun Sentinel

A Tamarac man has been arrested on a federal child trafficking charge for promoting the prostitution of a teenage girl and advertising her sexual services on the Internet.

Leighton Martin Curtis, 34, is being held in Broward County's main jail in downtown Fort Lauderdale until he hears the formal charges in court on Monday.

At his arraignment, Curtis will enter a plea of not guilty before a federal magistrate judge in Fort Lauderdale and will demand a jury trial and presentation of the evidence, his lawyer Robert Gershman said.

"It would be premature to speak further on the case without reviewing the evidence," Gershman said Friday.



Not a foreign issue

State right to toughen human-trafficking laws

The term "human trafficking" seems somehow remote to most of us - something that happens in faraway lands and backward cultures.

That perception is part of the problem: We fail to recognize that such a heinous crime occurs daily in communities throughout America.

Victims can range from frightened immigrants forced to work under inhumane conditions to middle-class teens blackmailed into becoming part of the sex trade. They often live under constant threats, reluctant to seek help for fear they or their loved ones will be harmed.

Beginning today, the perpetrators of such crimes in Michigan will face tougher punishment. Amendments to state law take effect that will lengthen prison terms for involuntary servitude, involving a minor in a sex act and using force, fraud or coercion to obtain labor or services.

Harsh penalties are needed. Human trafficking in the Great Lakes State is not rare. A study last year by the Michigan Women's Foundation in cooperation with Women's Funding Network found more adolescent girls in the state are forced into domestic trafficking each year than are killed in car accidents or commit suicide. It happens in urban, rural and suburban areas, in neighborhoods rich and poor.

In February, the University of Michigan Law School started what it called the nation's only comprehensive online database of human trafficking cases, providing access to details of cases gathered by the Human Trafficking Law Project. Examples include children tricked into leaving their homes in West Africa then forced to work without pay in American hair-braiding shops; young women lured into prostitution with false promises of riches; immigrants forced to work against their will on farms.

Even when they are able to regain their freedom, victims of human trafficking often bear scars that last a lifetime. It is important that states like Michigan augment efforts by the federal government to shut down criminal operations, and that we as Americans work to stop such exploitation of our fellow human beings.


  The battle against sex trafficking: Sweden vs. Denmark

Copenhagen's red light district pulsates with neon lights. Women stand on nearly every corner - many from Africa - aggressively making their pitch to men walking by. Inside one particularly loud bar, young Thai women sit on the laps of male customers.

And Stockholm? Well, you might walk right by its equivalent and never notice. Malmskillnadsgatan is a commercial area, the address of several banks. In its heyday, dozens of girls used to ply their trade here. Now, you can find only three or four women who work the street.

That stark difference may explain why Sweden is being hailed as a model of how to combat sex trafficking, while Denmark has been called the "Brothel of Scandinavia."

So, what happened?

In 1995, Sweden passed a tough bill that cracked down on prostitution. What made this law different, however, was who would be held responsible for the crime of prostitution. It's not illegal to sell sex. It is, however, illegal to buy sex.

The law was enacted as part of Sweden's push for gender equality. From a Swedish legal point of view, any woman selling sex has been forced to do so, either by circumstance or coercion. Anyone caught buying sex faces hefty fines, an embarrassingly public police notification and possible time in prison, with a maximum four-year sentence. So far no one arrested has served time.

According to the Swedish justice ministry, more than 70% in recent polls supported the law. Buying sex is looked down upon. There is even a slang term for those who buy sex.

"They're called a "cod," a fish," says Lise Tamm, a Swedish prosecutor of organized crime. "It's the same word as a loser, or [someone who] gets called by the police, or runs out of gas in his car. You're a loser if you buy sex in Sweden.

"We see it as a human right to have sexual integrity, physical integrity, and not to be forced to sell your body to strange men, 10 times a day. That's human rights to us."

At first, Sweden's neighbours in Europe dismissed the idea. But the law had an interesting knock-on effect, decreasing demand for prostitution and thereby sex trafficking.

Kajsa Wahlberg, Sweden's National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, has undertaken annual assessments on the problem since the law was enacted. She recalls attending international meetings back in 1998 when Sweden was ridiculed for its approach. "I mean, I was told you can't do that. It's impossible," she recalls. "People could not even get it into their minds that it would have any effect on trafficking. But now I get the impression that people have stopped laughing and actually are looking seriously into what can we do."

Police say it's working; that customers don't want to risk punishment and that intelligence indicated pimps and traffickers quickly realized it was not worth bringing women into Sweden. Simply, there is not enough money to be made and the risk is too high.

But trafficking still exists and women still sell sex in Sweden. One young woman told CNN she was promised a cleaning job in Sweden - but within hours of arriving in the country she was locked in an apartment, raped and beaten and had her passport taken away from her.

While street prostitution has dropped dramatically, selling sex over the internet is still a thriving industry. But Stockholm police estimate that there are only about 200 prostitutes now working in a capital city of more than 2 million people.

It's all in stark contrast to Copenhagen.

Denmark decriminalized prostitution in 1999. The idea, in part, was that making it legal to sell sex would also make it easier to police. There are conditions, however: pimping is illegal and only legal residents can work as prostitutes.

Since then, Copenhagen's red light district has grown. The women walking the streets have also changed. About half used to be Danish, according to national police. Now most are African or from eastern Europe. There are no hard numbers on how many have been trafficked but social workers believe the vast majority are "vulnerable" to trafficking.

Michelle Mildwater, an anti-trafficking activist with Hope Now, walks the streets of Copenhagen almost every night, hoping to reach out to victims. She says she has seen the number of prostitutes from Africa triple in just two years, although specific numbers are difficult. "What we've got on the streets is the tip of the iceberg basically," she says. (Find out ways you can help)

The reality in Copenhagen is that the majority of prostitutes are managed by pimps, even though it's illegal. Complicating matters, many of the pimps and traffickers are themselves prostitutes, attempting to work their way out of the street by managing new recruits.

"We thought that these women would be trapped and kidnapped and they wanted to be saved and rescued and they wanted to go back home," says Anne Brandt-Christensen of the Danish Centre Against Human Trafficking. "But what we found out is that this is a much more complex phenomenon."

Danish police have to figure out which prostitutes are in the country illegally, which prostitutes may be victims of trafficking and which prostitutes may also be pimps and traffickers.

They believe that 95% of the prostitutes in Denmark are already familiar with prostitution when they arrive, know they need to cooperate with pimps to get on, and are not used to working with law enforcement. The police try to establish which of the prostitutes are there legally: those who are not will be transferred to the department that deals with illegal immigrants.

Denmark's National Centre Against Trafficking coordinates police and social services to effectively identify trafficking victims. When police raid a brothel, social workers are on hand. When they have identified a possible victim of trafficking, they are placed in a safe house for a "reflection period" of up to 100 days. If, at the end of that time, the victims have not cooperated with police to prosecute their traffickers, they are deported.

"Of course, we tell them [that] in the hope that they will tell us at least a little bit of the true story," says Brandt-Christensen. "Because of course many of them are scared to tell their stories. And they're also scared that the authorities get to know about them."

But most victims fail to cooperate, too scared to testify against their traffickers, walking out of safe houses and disappearing just before their "reflection period" ends.

Politicians in Denmark are now debating whether to adopt a Swedish-style approach to the problem. In Sweden justice ministry officials say they have had an increase for requests from other countries to explain how their anti-prostitution law works and how it might be adapted.

"The important thing is that any country should think about the question on demand." says Beatrice Ask, Sweden's minister of justice, "because you can't fight this organized criminality, which is often behind prostitution and trafficking for sexual purposes. You can't fight that by only looking to one side of the coin. If we could get rid of slavery, then I think this type of buying human beings is something that we have to fight too."


Australian migration agents helping to run sex trafficking

April 1, 2011

Australian migration agents in Melbourneare are reportedly helping to run illegal prostitution rackets across the city.

Over six migration agents have worked with mostly Asian syndicates running prostitution rackets in Melbourne and Sydney, according to a report published in 'The Age'.

One of the agents allegedly involved in the sex industry in Melbourne was helping to find Asian women, including those on student visas, to work as prostitutes.

The report said that one of the Melbourne residents who was aware of the rogue agents had complained to the local police in November last year.

"The constable I complained seemed to be ignorant of the laws around prostitution and ultimately did nothing about it," the complainant said.

The newspaper said through its own probe it found that under-age women were working in illegal brothels in Melbourne's inner east.

Australian Federal Police is probing people linked to two state-licensed brothels as part of a human trafficking inquiry that has already led to the charging of a woman for allegedly forcing Chinese students to work as prostitutes.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the force was "actively looking at illegal brothels, particularly in relation to links with organised crime and human trafficking".

"We will always act on reports of under-age workers or other illegal activities (this has included targeting street prostitution in St Kilda recently)," she said adding, "We have had very preliminary discussions with the government to date and look forward to having further discussions".

Migration agents are registered by the federal government and have powers to help people get visas and deal with the Immigration Department.

The agents are meant to be governed by a strict code of conduct.

Under the existing system, the regulation of the legal and illegal sex industry is handled by local councils, state police, Consumer Affairs and the Department of Justice.

Federal agencies are responsible for investigating human trafficking, tax or immigration offences.


  'Juju oaths' ensnare trafficking victims mind, body and soul

by Siddharth Kara, Special to CNN

Editor's Note: Trafficking expert Siddharth Kara is a Harvard fellow and author of the award-winning book, "Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery." For more than 15 years, he has traveled around the world to research modern-day slavery, interviewing thousands of former and current slaves. Kara also advises the United Nations and governments on anti-slavery research and policy.

Edo State, Nigeria - The first victim of human trafficking I met from Nigeria was in a shelter in north Italy in 2004. Her name was Gift. Since that time, I've interviewed 27 Nigerian victims of human trafficking in the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy and even Thailand.

All but one of them were from Edo State, an area east of the city of Lagos.

These women told me some of the most harrowing tales of trafficking I have ever heard. Some trudged through the desert for weeks to the North African coast, where they crossed dangerous waters in rafts to Europe. Others were flown directly from Lagos to Milan, Copenhagen or London.

All of them suffered extremes of rape, torture and abuse that are impossible to imagine.

A few aspects of these ordeals immediately caught my attention. Each one of the women was fiercely committed to repaying debts to their madams of up to 50,000 euros. When rescued, they often refused assistance. When asked to testify in trials, some went into fits and trances in the witness box. When deported back to Nigeria, most desperately tried to return to their madams until their debts were repaid.

They went to these lengths because of “juju oaths” they took before leaving Nigeria. The level of control achieved by these oaths was greater than anything I have seen in any other human trafficking context.

It took me six years to gather the necessary contacts to safely explore the juju culture of Edo State. There are death threats against those who attempt to intervene in the juju practice in any way.

A young victim of trafficking I met twice in Copenhagen, named Promise, told me, “The juju priest took my womb from me. If I say anything, I can never get my womb back.”

No outsiders I know have been able to witness an actual juju ritual, but a few brave Nigerian trafficking victims have described the rituals to me in detail.

The priest takes some of the young girls' pubic hair, nail clippings and menstrual blood, then officiates a ceremony in which she promises to repay her debt, never to escape, never to talk to the police and never to reveal any details of the juju ritual. A container holding the girls' hair, blood and clippings is sold to the madam who purchases the girl after transport to Europe, thereby transferring spiritual control to her.

Despite the perceived risks, Promise started to speak against her juju priest, and she offered to help me research the issue further.

“My family can help you learn about juju,” Promise told me, “But please tell my sisters not to come here. Both of them have taken the juju oath. Please don't let them suffer like me.”

With the help of a guide, I navigated the toxic, crumbling and highly violent rural reaches of Nigeria and finally arrived in Promise's impoverished home village a few hours from Benin City. Her mother, Joy, greeted me with tears streaming down her face.

“Thank you for coming here,” she cried, “Is Promise okay? Is my daughter safe?”

Joy showed me around her hut and explained that she literally boiled tree leaves to feed her family. Everyone was desperate to get out, especially her other two daughters who had recently taken the juju oath.

With tips from Joy's daughters, I managed to meet a few juju priests. I also met the head priest of the entire Edo State. It was a deeply nerve-wracking experience. Outside of his shrine, the head priest displays dozens of framed pictures of disfigured followers who have broken their oaths, claiming the power of his curses caused their disfigurement.

The head priest's followers were filled with absolute fear, and that is exactly why Nigerians from this area - like Promise, and perhaps her sisters - are being trafficked by the thousands, generating millions of dollars for their exploiters, who are able to maintain complete control of their victims through the juju oaths – body, mind and soul.

The opinions expressed in this guest blog post are solely those of Siddharth Kara.


Chinese symbol for slave
  Wife of accused sex slave master from Laclede County MO is charged with conspiracy

by The Associated Press and KY3 News

March 30, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The wife of a man from southwest Missouri who is accused of keeping a young woman as his sex slave is now charged with participating in a sex trafficking conspiracy.

A federal indictment handed up on Wednesday charges Marilyn Bagley, 45, with conspiracy, sex trafficking, forced labor trafficking and document servitude.

The indictment also includes new charges against another defendant, Bradley Cook. Those charges include attempted tampering with a victim and using an interstate facility in commission of murder for hire.

Marilyn Bagley told a reporter last year that she often slept in the same bed with her husband and his sex slave in their rural trailer near Lebanon. She said prosecutors threatened to charge her in the case if she didn't testify against her husband.

Edited news release from U.S. attorney's office, March 30, 2011:

Marilyn Bagley joins her husband and four other co-defendants who were indicted last year for their roles in a commercial sex trafficking conspiracy.

The federal indictment alleges that a young, mentally deficient woman was sexually abused and tortured for several years at a home near Lebanon, and forced to work as an exotic dancer at local strip clubs. The indictment also contains additional charges against the original defendants related to a murder-for-hire scheme, witness and victim tampering and witness retaliation, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and child pornography.

Marilyn Bagley, 45, along with her husband Edward Bagley, Sr., also known as “Master Ed,” 43, and Michael Stokes, also known as “The Rodent,” 62, all of Lebanon, and Bradley Cook, also known as “PutHer2GoodUse,” 32, of St. Louis, were charged in an 18-count superseding indictment returned by a grand jury in Kansas City, Mo. The superseding indictment replaces an indictment handed up last Sept. 8. Edward Bagley, Stokes and Cook remain in federal custody.

The indictment alleges that Edward and Marilyn Bagley enticed a female victim, whom they believed came from a troubled childhood and suffered from mental deficiencies, into their trailer home in a wooded area. They allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse and sexual torture activities with the woman to groom and coerce her to become a sex slave.

Edward Bagley allegedly beat, whipped, flogged, suffocated, choked, shocked, caned, skewered, drowned, mutilated, hung and caged the woman to coerce her to become a sex slave.

Edward Bagley allegedly advertised online that she was his slave and could be sexually tortured during live online sessions or in person. The indictment states that Stokes and Cook participated in this conspiracy as customers who paid and offered goods to Bagley to sexually abuse and torture her. The indictment also alleges that Edward Bagley forced the woman to work as a stripper and the Bagleys kept the proceeds from that work.

The federal investigation began after Bagley allegedly suffocated and shocked the woman during a torture session to a state of cardiac arrest on Feb. 27, 2009. The woman, who was 23 years old at that time, received emergency medical treatment and was hospitalized.

The superseding indictment contains an additional charge against Edward Bagley for possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Cook is also charged with two additional counts of using an interstate facility in the commission of murder for hire, and with one count each of attempted tampering with a victim and attempted witness retaliation, all of which are related to an alleged attempt to kill her between Sept. 28, 2010, and Dec. 9, 2010. Cook is also charged with tampering with another witness.

The superseding indictment also contains additional charges against Stokes for receiving child pornography over the Internet and for possessing child pornography.

According to the federal indictment, the Bagleys invited the woman, who was 16 years old at the time, into their trailer after she ran away from home in December 2002. They promised her, who had grown up in foster care homes, a “great life,” and promised they would help her become a model and a dancer, the indictment says.

The Bagleys used the Internet and BDSM pornography to train and groom the woman (while she was still a minor) to be a sex slave. Marilyn Bagley allegedly modeled “slave clothes” as part of recruiting her to become Edward Bagley's slave. Edward Bagley allegedly gave the young woman marijuana and ecstasy, showed her images of pornography and sadomasochism activities, and began sexually abusing her while she was still a minor.

Edward Bagley began sexually torturing her in February 2004, according to the indictment, when she turned 18 years old and he had her sign a sex slave contract, which he convinced her legally bound her to him as his slave for the rest of her life. The indictment cites numerous allegations of a variety of sexual acts, torture, and mutilation over a five-year period.

Marilyn Bagley posed in photographs taken by Edward Bagley, the indictment says, where she sexually abused the victim. Marilyn Bagley allegedly told her to “do as she was told” and refused to offer assistance when the woman expressed fear of Edward Bagley. Marilyn Bagley benefited financially and by receiving something of value from her role in the sex trafficking scheme.

If the victim attempted to stop the activity or cried for help, the indictment says, Edward Bagley escalated the torture. Edward Bagley allegedly threatened to kill the woman and demonstrated to her that he could do so by keeping numerous guns in the home. Edward Bagley shot animals for which the victim cared in front of her, the indictment says, and bragged about the bodies he had already buried in the woods behind the trailer home. Edward Bagley also threatened to bury the victim alive, the indictment says, and showed her a video demonstrating how he intended to do it.

Edward Bagley had her tattooed to mark her as his property, the indictment says, including a bar code on her neck, a tribal tattoo on her back with the letter AS to mark her as a slave, and the Chinese symbol for slave on her ankle.

Between February 2004 and February 2009, the indictment says, Edward Bagley tortured the woman on live webcasts on the Internet. Cook allegedly watched live video over the Internet of her being sexually abused and tortured, and downloaded pictures of her to his computer. Cook allegedly sent images to Edward Bagley of females in his home that he beat, bound and tied up to share ideas of how to abuse her. Cook allegedly used those torture methods on the woman when he visited the Bagleys' home. Cook gave Bagley a hard drive with sadomasochism and torture videos downloaded from the Internet, including videos demonstrating to Bagley how he could bury the woman alive.

Stokes allegedly traveled to the Bagleys' home and engaged in both sexually torturing the woman and watching Edward Bagley torture her. Stokes gave Bagley steaks, cigarettes, coats, clothing, lighters and cash. Stokes paid $1,000 for Bagley to transport the victim to California in December 2006 for a photo shoot in which she performed sexual acts. Stokes paid Bagley $300 for a torture session, and also gave him money to build a homemade device to sexually torture her.

In addition to the criminal conspiracy, each of the defendants is also charged with one count of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion and one count of using the Internet to facilitate the unlawful activity.

Edward and Marilyn Bagley are also charged together with forced labor trafficking and document servitude. The federal indictment alleges the Bagleys forced the woman to work as a stripper and exotic dancer at adult entertainment clubs from June 2007 to February 2009. They allegedly earned approximately $112,200 from their victim's work. According to the indictment, Edward Bagley punished the woman with torture and physical and sexual abuse for failing to be a top earner at the adult entertainment clubs where he had her dance and strip. Edward and Marilyn Bagley allegedly confiscated her identification documents, including her state-issued identification card, birth certificate and Social Security card.

Edward Bagley is also charged with one count each of using the Internet to entice a minor to engage in illicit sex, enticement to travel for illicit sexual activity, transportation for illicit sexual activity, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, 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.

The federal indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require Bagley to forfeit to the government any proceeds obtained from the alleged offenses, as well as any property used to commit the alleged offenses, including $112,200 allegedly obtained by the forced labor trafficking of the victim, two computers, sex toys and paraphernalia and torture devices and 11 firearms. Cook would also be required to forfeit three computers, a hard drive, two Xbox 360s and seven firearms.

Under federal statutes, a conviction for commercial sex trafficking carries a penalty of a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole. A conviction for either commercial sex trafficking or forced labor trafficking that involves aggravated sexual abuse carries a maximum penalty of life in federal prison without parole.

This case was investigated by the FBI in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.

Edited news release from U.S. attorney's office, March 24, 2011:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A man from Wheatland pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in a sex-trafficking conspiracy in which a young, mentally deficient woman was coerced into being a sex slave for several years while she was tortured in a trailer home in a wooded area near Lebanon.

Dennis Henry, 51, of Wheatland, formerly the postmaster of Nevada, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. Henry also pleaded guilty to transporting the victim across state lines for sexual activity.

By pleading guilty, Henry admitted he engaged in sex with the victim, and participated in torture sessions with her that would last for hours. According to Henry, the victim was subject to the most extreme forms of torture he had ever seen. Henry saw pictures of the woman's vagina sewn shut, which he was told was a form of punishment. Punishment also included locking her in a cage. Henry never asked the woman if she needed help and never offered to assist her in any way.

Henry met the woman in 2004, when she was 18 years old. According to the plea agreement, Henry believed the woman had been neglected. She also appeared developmentally delayed for someone her age. She did not know how to think for herself. She also took long periods of time to think and comprehend something and had a difficult time keeping up with conversations. Henry saw she did not know how to eat with a knife and a fork, and he taught her how to use silverware.

In 2006, Henry helped transport her to California for a sexually explicit pornographic photo shoot. The sex toys, machines and devices filled the trunk and backseat of the car, with Henry, the woman and another person crowded into the front seat. Henry drove most of the way from Missouri to California, where they stayed in a dirty motel room that was located in front of an alley filled with trash, needles and drug paraphernalia.

According to Henry, the woman became scared when they arrived in California. When she saw the crank phone that was used to administer electric shocks, she withdrew and “melted.” Henry found her crying in a room. She told him that she hated the crank phone and was worried she would not be able to take the pain. Henry provided approximately $1,400 for this trip to California. At a later date, he provided another $500 for a return trip, which he did not join.

Henry also admitted he visited the woman at a strip club in Lebanon, where she was forced to work.

Co-defendant James Noel, 45, of Springfield, has also pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. Noel admitted he was one of the customers who sexually abused and tortured the victim. Noel watched the victim being tortured and sometimes operated torture devices himself beginning in 2006, when she was approximately 20 years old. For example, Noel knew the woman hated being shocked with a crank phone (which was wired inside her vaginal and anal openings and to her toes), which he described as “extremely painful,” but he used it on her anyway.

Both of the defendants' plea agreements require them to cooperate with the government, including providing information or testifying at trial. Neither plea agreement provides any credit to the defendants for substantial assistance.

Under federal statutes, Henry is subject to a sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.,0,317417,print.story


Antonio Sanchez
  Deputies searching for missing Pink Hill man

March 31, 2011

Freedom ENC

The N.C. Center for Missing Persons has issued a Silver Alert for a missing Pink Hill man.

The Lenoir County Sheriff's Office is reporting Antonio Olvera Sanchez, 27, of 3426 Live Oak Co. Road in Pink Hill walked away from his place of work at 1205 East Pleasant Hill Road on Wednesday at approximately 7:30 a.m.

Sanchez is believed to be suffering from mental illness, as he has walked away from worksites in the past. Sanchez is described as being 5'7", weighing 160lbs, having short black hair and brown eyes.

He was last seen wearing a beige one piece jump suit with green or tan rubber boots.

If you have information about the whereabouts of Antonio Sanchez you are asked to call the Lenoir County Sheriff's Office at 252-559-6100.


  Cook County Had First Sex Trafficking Conviction Under Dart's New Initiative

March 31, 2011

by Jan Jeffcoat, FOX Chicago News

Chicago - It's not something you think can happen in your city, let alone your own neighborhood. In fact, thoughts of sex trafficking might take your mind to a far away place like one you saw in the movies or on TV.

However, recent statistics show a much darker picture when it comes to sex trafficking in Chicago. One human services agency estimates more than 6,000 at-risk children are trafficked every year in Cook County alone.

Fox Chicago's Jan Jeffcoat spoke to one victim, a Chicago teenager who was forced to act as a sex slave in a southern suburb for three years.

To protect her identity, we are calling her Brittany. She told Jan her nightmare began when she was kidnapped in her own neighborhood after running away from home. Brittany was just 16 years old and just had a heated argument with her parents.

"I didn't want to be there. I wanted to go home. I wanted to get away from it I couldn't believe it was happening to me. A lot of it was prayer to keep me going, to keep me strong, to keep me alive."

For three years, Brittany sayid she was raped daily and chained to a bed. She recalled, "If the john was to go into my room, he would come into my room, majority of the time I was fighting. So the john would walk out the room come back in the room with the pimp or one of the other guys. They would hold me down and inject me with some type of drug. I don't really remember much about those times. Just the pressure of the john raping me."

Brittany's story is unimaginable but Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has seen and investigated similar cases. He remembered one case in the south suburbs where he says there were four or five of girls in different hotel rooms and another woman who was in contact with the pimp, acted like an air traffic controller directing the johns to different rooms and different times.

Dart said the woman collecting the money would then deposit it into an account through an ATM making it harder for investigators to catch the real perpetrator, the person luring the young teens and advertising the services. Catching these perpetrators has become much more complicated and accelerated by the internet.

Dart added, “The heart of the trafficking here is so isolated right now where before we used to have direct contact, where we'd see someone on the street. Now with the internet has made it so difficult."

Cook County had its first human trafficking convictions under a new initiative this year.

Myrelle and Tryelle Lockett,
convicted of human trafficking


Eighteen year olds Tyrelle and Myrelle Lockett both pleaded guilty in February after they were busted operating a sex trafficking ring that forced young teens to perform sex acts for money in the south suburbs. Investigators said the twin brothers took pictures of young women and put them on the internet where they created ads similar to a dating site.

In the Lockett's case, the victims were forced into motel rooms in Lansing where they had sex with men while the brothers waited nearby to collect money from the johns. They got caught after an undercover agent answered one of their ads on the internet. Both are now serving four year prison terms.

For victims like Brittany, it may take a lifetime to recover. She said it took her about a year before she could go outside without feeling scared.

Brittany added, "To this day every time I walk past a man I still feel like they're looking at me, thinking of ways to violate me, thinking of ways they are going to hurt me."

Many victims of the sex trade don't find help right away. Organizations like Mercy Ministries have rescued thousands of sex trafficking victims across the country and helped them find hope.

Heidi Stevens is a volunteer for this organization. She said she has seen some girls that are so traumatized they are sitting in the fetal position unable to communicate. With some help, she also said she has seen girls "get completely restored and get an education."

Mercy Ministries works with law enforcement agencies to house young victims and help report sex crimes. Heidi said we can all help by watching places like truck stops or hotels. She said both places are often used for sex trafficking operations.

"We'll often check into a hotel and maybe there's a young girl with a man and we don't ask for identification or check that young girl is willing to be with that man."

Brittany is still in recovery, and now works with the Dreamcatchers Foundation helping other young women who are victims of sex trafficking.

The US Dept of Justice has a list of resources on their website.

The public can also report human trafficking tips to this hotline: The Salvation Army STOP IT Program at (877) 606-3158 .

Anyone with information can email tips directly to the Cook County States Attorney Human Trafficking Initiative at


Georgia House approves protections for those who help runaways


Associated Press

ATLANTA — The House has signed off on a bill that offers protections for those who help victims of sex trafficking and runaways.

Approved 160-6 on Thursday, the legislation clarifies that service providers who register with the state cannot face criminal liability for providing services to runaways or homeless youths so long as they attempt to contact the parents. If they cannot reach the providers, they must notify the Department of Homeland Security within 72 hours

The runaway bill was a substitute for a gun bill that passed the state Senate. It now heads back to the Senate to see if they will agree with the overhaul.

Senate Bill 94:


Book available through
  Vegas hub for child sex trafficking

by Sherman Frederick

Mar. 31, 2011

I received this from the Las Vegas Valley Interfaith Sponsoring Committee and pass it along for your edification. You can find out more here.

"The Las Vegas Valley is an international hub for child sex trafficking -- the selling of children for purposes of prostitution. The Valley is also the adult entertainment capitol of the world. We, the leaders of the Las Vegas Valley Interfaith Sponsoring Committee, believe these two realities can and must be uncoupled so that children are no longer swept up into the entertainment and tourism marketplace in a way that degrades us and violates them.

"Sin City? What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas? Let's decide as a community where and how we draw the line. We find the exploitation of children, even for commercial purposes, deplorable. Worldwide, Las Vegas scores as one of the 14 capitols of child sex trafficking. Shared Hope International reports that “…1,496 children from 40 states were trafficked into and arrested for prostitution in Clark County, Nevada between January 1994 and July 2007.” This is the tip of a growing iceberg.

"The Las Vegas Valley Interfaith Sponsoring Committee (LVVISC) is forming a new organization of mostly faith-based organizations. We represent Christians of many denominations, Muslims, Jews, Unitarians, and others. We are growing. While our beliefs vary in many ways, we are firmly united that the evil of child sex trafficking must be eliminated from our Valley.

"As a community, we acknowledge our failure to defend and protect children and families and vow to do better through prayer, organization and action. We can act now! Four bills have been introduced to the Nevada State Legislature pertaining to sex trafficking: AB 4; AB5; AB6; and, AB106. Please take the time to educate yourselves about these bills and act by contacting your legislators. We must end our ignorance and negligence regarding this evil in our valley, starting now!

"One helpful resource is which is organizing a public witness against sex trafficking on the Strip on April 2, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The LVVISC is organizing a Prayer Service on May 22, 2011 to bolster our efforts to end sex trafficking and support children and families. Join LVVISC on Facebook for further information about these and other activities and actions and how you can participate."


CNN's Atika Shubert with"Laura" (not her real name)
who has rebuilt her life after being trafficked for sex.
  Story of hope behind sex trafficking statistic

It's not often you get invited on a personal tour of the red light district of Copenhagen, Denmark. Michelle Mildwater, of the anti-trafficking group Hope Now, is an impassioned activist. She walks me through the most notorious corners with a smile on her face.

“How are you?” she calls out to clusters of African women standing on the street. “Do you know who I am?” She hands them her business card and often condoms. She tells them where to find doctors and other help. Most of the younger women she approaches are nervous. They glance at her quickly, then ignore her or walk the other way.

On one corner, a group of older women are smoking cigarettes and laughing. They recognize Mildwater and greet her warmly. They chat about the cold weather, the lack of customers in winter and the bad situation back home - in this case Nigeria. One tall woman, calling herself Lucy, tells me that she had a cleaning job in Italy but lost it when the company went bankrupt in the recession.

And now she's on the street again. She shrugs it off.

When we leave, Mildwater leans over to tell me: “They're probably the pimps, managing the other girls on the street.”

Mildwater describes the complex world of trafficked women from Africa. Many are first brought to Europe bound by “juju” contracts – promises to repay debt based on religion and superstition. One of the reasons trafficked women won't turn in their pimps, she says, is because they believe they will literally lose their soul if they cooperate with police.

But those same women may try to work their way out of the trade by becoming a “manager” - a pimp or recruiter for new victims.

It's a vicious circle.

In Sweden, we are taken for a tour of a different kind: inside a safe house for trafficked women. All the available spaces are full.

There is a large, warm kitchen, a dining room and a playroom for children. The walls are lined with smiling baby photos, either born here or trafficked alongside their mothers.

Here we met “Laura,” not her real name. It's hard to imagine her as a victim of trafficking. She is bubbly and fun, speaks her mind. She tells us how this interview is going to be: no faces, no names. She slips on a black hoodie to cover her hair, sits down and starts telling us her story.

“The guys, two guys, they drove us to this apartment. They took our passports. And I start to fight with one of the guys. I said, no, no give it back. I didn't want to give my passport. So because I start to fight with him, he beat me up, and after this he raped me."

She says it so matter-of-factly, so bluntly, that I'm a bit taken a back. But this is how Laura has become a survivor, not a victim, of trafficking. She has confronted her past head-on.

Sold into sexual slavery by her “boyfriend,” Laura escaped her captors only to end up on the street on drugs and pregnant. It's a horrific story but this one has a happy ending.

Laura remains dry-eyed until she talks about her new home.

“I was at the street, I was six-months pregnant. I didn't know what to do, where to go. I didn't know anything.”

She broke down in tears at this point and it was hard for me not to cry as well.

“When they called me and said yes come here. I saw my room. I couldn't believe it.” She told me “I thought: No, this can't be happening to me. It can't be. Because all the time, I just had very bad things in my mind. I've been living here for one year, two months. It's been the happiest time of my life.”

I'll be hearing more stories like this through CNN's Freedom Project. I only hope that more of them will also end happily, like Laura's.


Edward Bagley, Sr.
  New indictments handed up in sex-slave case

by Jeff Lehr

The Joplin Globe

Mar 30, 2011

A federal grand jury Wednesday indicted Marilyn Bagley in connection with her alleged role in a sex-slave trafficking conspiracy in which her husband, Ed Bagley Sr., and four other men were indicted last year.

The 45-year-old woman from Lebanon, Mo., was named along with her husband and other co-defendants in an 18-count superseding indictment returned by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Kansas City.


The case — described by U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips as one of the most horrific ever prosecuted in the Western District of Missouri — involves the alleged captivity, sexual abuse and torture of a mentally deficient young woman at the Bagleys' trailer home in a wooded area near Lebanon.

The indictment alleges that the Bagleys first took the woman into their home in December 2002, when she was a 16-year-old runaway. The girl had grown up in foster homes and had a troubled childhood, the indictment states, and the Bagleys promised to help her become a model and a dancer.

The government alleges that the couple used the Internet and pornography to “train” the young woman as a sex slave. Beginning while she was still a minor, she was subjected to repeated sexual abuse and various forms of torture, including beatings, whippings, suffocation, choking, electrocution, canings and mutilation, according to the allegations.

In addition to the criminal conspiracy, each of the defendants in the case is charged with sex trafficking and using the Internet for unlawful activity.

The Bagleys also are charged with forced labor trafficking and document servitude. They allegedly confiscated the woman's identification documents and forced her to work as an exotic dancer at adult entertainment clubs from June 2007 to February 2009, benefiting as much as $112,000 from her earnings, according to the indictment.

The case came to the attention of investigators when the woman, referred to in court documents as “FV,” for female victim, allegedly was suffocated and electrocuted during a torture session in February 2009 to the point of cardiac arrest and had to be taken to a hospital for emergency treatment.


Wednesday's superseding indictment replaces an original indictment handed up Sept. 8. It contains additional charges against Ed Bagley, known among participants in the conspiracy as “Master Ed,” and two other men, Michael Stokes, 62, of Lebanon, known as “The Rodent,” and Bradley Cook, 32, of St. Louis, known as “PutHer2GoodUse.”

The superseding indictment contains an additional charge against Ed Bagley. It accuses him of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Cook is charged with two additional counts of using the Internet in the commission of murder for hire, and single new counts of attempted tampering with a victim and attempted witness retaliation. The U.S. attorney's office said those charges stem from an alleged attempt to kill “FV” between Sept. 28 and Dec. 9 of last year. Cook also is charged with tampering with a second witness, referred to in the indictment only as “JP.”

Additional charges against Stokes in the new indictment refer to receiving child pornography over the Internet and possessing child pornography.

The U.S. attorney's office alleges that Stokes and Cook participated in the conspiracy as customers, paying Bagley in cash and goods for opportunities to sexually abuse and torture the woman.

Bagley had the alleged victim sign “a sex-slave contract” when she turned 18 in 2004, the indictment states. He was able to convince her, because of her mental deficiencies, that the document was legally valid and bound her to him, the document states. From 2004 to 2009, he tortured her in live webcasts on the Internet that were viewed by Cook and downloaded to his computer, the indictment states.

Cook and Stokes both engaged in sexual abuse and torture of “FV” when they visited the Bagleys, the indictment alleges.


Two more priests in Philadelphia placed on leave

by David O'Reilly

Inquirer Staff Writer

The list of Catholic priests suspended in the last seven weeks here for alleged aberrant behavior involving children grew to 29 Wednesday, as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia placed two more clerics on administrative leave.

Citing archdiocesan policy, spokeswoman Donna Farrell declined to name the two, but said both had retired within the last six years and were living in private residences.

The 27 priests already on forced leave accounted for nearly 7 percent of the almost 400 clergy who were in active ministry in the five-county archdiocese when the year began. An additional 150 are retired or ill.

The Inquirer has identified one of the priests placed on leave Wednesday as the Rev. David Givey. Details of the allegations against him were not available.

Givey, 66, was editor of the Catholic Standard and Times from 1985 to 1992, and had served in numerous parishes and chaplaincies since his ordination in 1971. He retired in 2006.

Calls to Givey's home in Somers Point, N.J., were unanswered.

Joelle Casteix, a regional director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a victims' advocacy group, blasted Cardinal Justin Rigali for failing to release the priests' names or alleged wrongdoings.

"We may have never seen such immediate backsliding by a Catholic prelate," Casteix said. "Just a few short weeks ago, Rigali promised to do better with clergy sex cases. Now, he suspends two credibly accused predator priests, but won't name them. . . . If these men are so potentially dangerous that Rigali won't let them act as priests, why will Rigali let parents remain clueless about them?"

Givey and the other priest join the 27 whom Rigali suspended in the wake of a Feb. 10 grand jury report on allegedly predatory clergy in the archdiocese.

That week, Rigali suspended three priests when the District Attorney's Office filed felony charges against them. Also arrested were a defrocked cleric and a former parochial-school teacher.

However, the grand jury asserted that dozens of other priests accused of abuse or other inappropriate behaviors with minors were still in ministry despite the archdiocese's "zero-tolerance" policy.

In many dioceses across the nation, accused priests are sometimes allowed to remain in ministry if they deny committing the alleged assaults and if church officials have no way of corroborating the allegations.

The grand jury said the Philadelphia hierarchy had failed to investigate some cases adequately or had dismissed substantial evidence as too flimsy to take action. It cited three examples, naming the priests and the assault charges listed in their personnel files.

On Feb. 17, Rigali put those three priests on leave and appointed a former Philadelphia sex-crimes prosecutor, Gina Maisto Smith, to review the files of all the priests it identified as suspect.

Smith concluded that the allegations against 13 were too slight to warrant their suspensions, but on her advice, Rigali removed 21 on March 8. She is expected to soon name a team that will assist her in the investigations. That team will also recommend to Rigali who among the suspects should be removed, retired, or returned to ministry.

Givey attended the Vatican's North American College in Rome from 1974 to 1976 and served in these assignments as an archdiocesan priest:

St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish in Philadelphia, 1977 to 1978.

Faculty at Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill, 1979.

Chaplain at the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Merion, 1981 to 1984.

Editor of the Catholic Standard and Times, 1985 to 1992.

Chaplain at West Chester University and resident of St. Maximilian Kolbe rectory in West Chester, 1992 to 1994.

St. Agatha-St. James Parish in Philadelphia, 1995 to 1996.

Our Lady of Peace Parish in Milmont Park, 1997 to 2001.

From 2001 to 2005, he had no listed residence; his mailing address was Secretary for Clergy Office.

From 2006 to 2008, he lived in a private residence in West Chester before moving to Somers Point. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

13-year-old has stillborn baby; Dad, 16, charged

March 30, 2011 | Associated Press

A 16-year-old Michigan boy who authorities believe fathered a child with a 13-year-old relative is facing sex abuse charges.

Huron County Sheriff Kelly Hanson says a petition filed Tuesday charging the boy with third-degree criminal sexual conduct says the teens share the same address and last name.

Hanson declined to explain how the teens are related.

The girl sought medical assistance Saturday and hospital workers determined she had recently given birth. She subsequently directed authorities to a house in Port Hope, 110 miles north of Detroit, where they discovered her stillborn child stashed in the attic.

The girl had kept her pregnancy a secret and adults in the home had not known the infant's body was there.

The boy has been ordered to have no contact with the girl.


Denmark decriminalized prostitution in 1999. The idea in part was that
legalizing the sale of sex would make it easier to police.
  Sex trafficking: Countries take different approaches to same problem

(CNN) -- Copenhagen's red light district pulsates with neon lights. Women stand on nearly every corner -- many from Africa -- aggressively making their pitch to men walking by. Inside one particularly loud bar, young Thai women sit on the laps of male customers.

And Stockholm?

Well, you might walk right by its equivalent and never notice. Malmskillnadsgatan is a commercial area, the address of several banks. In its heyday, dozens of girls used to ply their trade here. Now, you can find only three or four women who work the street.

That stark difference may explain why Sweden is being hailed as a model of how to combat sex trafficking, while Denmark has been called the "Brothel of Scandinavia".

So, what happened?

In 1995, Sweden passed a tough bill that cracked down on prostitution. What made this law different, however, was who would be held responsible for the crime of prostitution. It's not illegal to sell sex. It is, however, illegal to buy sex.

The law was enacted as part of Sweden's push for gender equality. From a Swedish legal point of view, any woman selling sex has been forced to do so, either by circumstance or coercion. Anyone caught buying sex faces hefty fines, an embarrassingly public police notification and possible time in prison, with a maximum four-year sentence. So far no one arrested has served time.

According to the Swedish justice ministry, more than 70% in recent polls supported the law. Buying sex is looked down upon. There is even a slang term for those who buy sex.

"They're called a "cod," a fish," says Lise Tamm, a Swedish prosecutor of organized crime. "It's the same word as a loser, or [someone who] gets called by the police, or runs out of gas in his car. You're a loser if you buy sex in Sweden.

"We see it as a human right to have sexual integrity, physical integrity, and not to be forced to sell your body to strange men, 10 times a day. That's human rights to us."

At first, Sweden's neighbours in Europe dismissed the idea. But the law had an interesting knock-on effect, decreasing demand for prostitution and thereby sex trafficking.

Kajsa Wahlberg, Sweden's National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, has undertaken annual assessments on the problem since the law was enacted. She recalls attending international meetings back in 1998 when Sweden was ridiculed for its approach. "I mean, I was told you can't do that. It's impossible," she recalls. "People could not even get it into their minds that it would have any effect on trafficking. But now I get the impression that people have stopped laughing and actually are looking seriously into what can we do."

Police say it's working; that customers don't want to risk punishment and that intelligence indicated pimps and traffickers quickly realized it was not worth bringing women into Sweden. Simply, there is not enough money to be made and the risk is too high.

But trafficking still exists and women still sell sex in Sweden. One young woman told CNN she was promised a cleaning job in Sweden -- but within hours of arriving in the country she was locked in an apartment, raped and beaten and had her passport taken away from her.

While street prostitution has dropped dramatically, selling sex over the internet is still a thriving industry. But Stockholm police estimate that there are only about 200 prostitutes now working in a capital city of more than 2 million people.

It's all in stark contrast to Copenhagen.

Denmark decriminalized prostitution in 1999. The idea, in part, was that making it legal to sell sex would also make it easier to police. There are conditions, however: pimping is illegal and only legal residents can work as prostitutes.

Since then, Copenhagen's red light district has grown. The women walking the streets have also changed. About half used to be Danish, according to national police. Now most are African or from eastern Europe. There are no hard numbers on how many have been trafficked but social workers believe the vast majority are "vulnerable" to trafficking.

Michelle Mildwater, an anti-trafficking activist with Hope Now, walks the streets of Copenhagen almost every night, hoping to reach out to victims. She says she has seen the number of prostitutes from Africa triple in just two years, although specific numbers are difficult. "What we've got on the streets is the tip of the iceberg basically," she says.

The reality in Copenhagen is that the majority of prostitutes are managed by pimps, even though it's illegal. Complicating matters, many of the pimps and traffickers are themselves prostitutes, attempting to work their way out of the street by managing new recruits.

"We thought that these women would be trapped and kidnapped and they wanted to be saved and rescued and they wanted to go back home," says Anne Brandt-Christensen of the Danish Centre Against Human Trafficking. "But what we found out is that this is a much more complex phenomenon."

Danish police have to figure out which prostitutes are in the country illegally, which prostitutes may be victims of trafficking and which prostitutes may also be pimps and traffickers.

They believe that 95% of the prostitutes in Denmark are already familiar with prostitution when they arrive, know they need to cooperate with pimps to get on, and are not used to working with law enforcement. The police try to establish which of the prostitutes are there legally: those who are not will be transferred to the department that deals with illegal immigrants.

Denmark's National Centre Against Trafficking coordinates police and social services to effectively identify trafficking victims. When police raid a brothel, social workers are on hand. When they have identified a possible victim of trafficking, they are placed in a safe house for a "reflection period" of up to 100 days. If, at the end of that time, the victims have not cooperated with police to prosecute their traffickers, they are deported.

"Of course, we tell them [that] in the hope that they will tell us at least a little bit of the true story," says Brandt-Christensen. "Because of course many of them are scared to tell their stories. And they're also scared that the authorities get to know about them."

But most victims fail to cooperate, too scared to testify against their traffickers, walking out of safe houses and disappearing just before their "reflection period" ends.

Politicians in Denmark are now debating whether to adopt a Swedish-style approach to the problem. In Sweden justice ministry officials say they have had an increase for requests from other countries to explain how their anti-prostitution law works and how it might be adapted.

"The important thing is that any country should think about the question on demand." says Beatrice Ask, Sweden's minister of justice, "because you can't fight this organized criminality, which is often behind prostitution and trafficking for sexual purposes. You can't fight that by only looking to one side of the coin. If we could get rid of slavery, then I think this type of buying human beings is something that we have to fight too."


  State fights sex trade

March 30, 2011

by Jennifer Emert

ALBANY, GA - Investigators say Atlanta is THE east coast hub for human trafficking.

Now the state is strengthening its sex trafficking laws.

South Georgia law enforcers say if you think it doesn't happen here, you're naive.

The new legislation waiting for the Governor's signature imposes higher fines and stiffer sentences.

It also offers new treatment options to people who could be victims of the sex slave trade.

The victims of this crime are most often girls, between the ages of 14 to 18 years old. Those who might be runaways, and not reported missing. Local law enforcement says while the new penalties are good they may not go far enough.

We know prostitution is a problem on Albany streets, but if you think sex trafficking is just an Atlanta problem, think again. "There's a lot of suspicion of that going on in different areas, certain businesses in town that may be involved in that sort of thing are under investigation," said Dougherty County Sheriff's Capt. Craig Dodd.


Recently, officers with both the Dougherty County Police Department and the Sheriff's office went through training to identify the crime.

"Training has been made more available especially from officers out of the Atlanta area, providing training," said Dougherty County Police Capt. Jimmy Sexton.

"More and more officers here need to go through this type of training. What's tough about this crime is it's done underground and the victims are coerced not to talk," Dodd said.

"The people who engage in this are using intimidating methods or are very coercive and forceful and a lot of these victims are afraid to talk about it," Sexton said.

"Once they've addicted them to drugs and physically abused them and intimidated them a lot of the times it starts out with repeated raping, being drugged, and repeatedly raped. Until they're compliant. The biggest target girls 14 to 18, runaways," Dodd said.

Police hope by strengthening the penalties for this crime, it will help keep the crime from spreading.

The legislation calls for a 25 year minimum sentence for those convicted of using coercion to traffic someone under the age of 18. It also slaps a minimum sentence of five years for anyone who pays for sex with a 16 year old.

People paying for sex with someone even younger face at least 10 years behind bars.


  Georgia Senate passes sex trafficking bill

by Ashley Knight

ATLANTA, GA -- The Georgia State Senate has passed a bill that would strengthen penalties for sex trafficking.

House Bill 200 was passed Tuesday and would increase a prison sentence from one year to between 10 and 20 years.

There would also be a $100,000 fine.

If the person trafficked is under 18 years of age and coerced, the jail time would jump to between 25 and 50 years.

The bill also provides for police training guidelines for dealing with sex trafficking.

The bill now awaits Governor Nathan Deal's signature.

According to Georgia's Governor's Office for Children and Families, 90% of exploited children are under the control of a pimp.


Local advocate fights child sex trafficking at West End mall

by Susan Mittleman

(Audio on site)

ATLANTA, GA (WABE) - No matter what the law says, advocates say one way to stop the commercial sexual exploitation of children, is for adults to take more action when they see kids in trouble.

Susan Mittleman spent some time with child advocate Sharon Saffold at the West End Mall to learn more about what's happening in one of the city's known solicitation hot spots.

Sharon Saffold is on a stop the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

"We're talking minors that are not choosing to prostitute themselves but have been lured into prostitution."

Walking through the West End mall, dressed in a dark suit, high heels, and carrying a laptop, Saffold has come a long way since she grew up on these tough streets.
On her own since she was 14, Saffold navigated life among drug dealers and pimps.

"Believe it or not, there's a lot of 14, 15, 16 year olds who, self parenting some people had boyfriend or husband they had paymasters. That's how you got your nails done, your clothes, food, a hotel to stay in at night."

Prostitution has been long-standing problem in the West End. Though Saffold herself was never sexually exploited, as a minor she dated a pimp she met here in this mall.

"Even though I knew he was a pimp-didn't bother me. As long as he wasn't asking me to sell myself and get him money, I was ok with it."

Today, she is not ok with that kind of complacency.

"No! Now, I'd be turning him in and making sure he'd get the mandatory sentence that Georgia's now handing down to pimps that are pimping minors."

As community outreach director for A Future Not a Past, a national campaign to end child prostitution, Saffold is focused on adults in neighborhoods who see what's going on and are complacent.

"Because there were adults around me and all my friends, that knew what was going on and all they'd say is look at her, she's hot tail, look how fast she is!
Nobody was saying hey, you're being taken advantage of, They were betting against me, like you bet against a horse at a race, rather than protecting me."

At the mall we met 27-year old CJ' as he's known, who was actually wearing a shirt that read, stop trickin,' slang for prostitution.

Sharon engaged him in conversation.

"SS Georgia is on the top of the list for having girls being prostituted under age of consent.

CJ: "I can believe it too.. the way I see them coming through on a daily basis. You got to start showing your kids there's an alternative to that. The community's got to start embracing them."

SS: What about community saying, hey this isn't right?

CJ: See, you can do that but you got to worry bout the people who have to still live in the community. If you tell,someone might come looking cuz you told. If you don't tell, you're wrong cuz you knew the situation is messed up."

Despite his awareness, Saffold believes CJ thinks the way most adults do.

"A lot of the things he was saying still made you think that he thought they were choosing it. He never could grasp that they're being forced and they needed to be protected. The most he could grasp is that they need better role models."

Then we met Amu Bonsu, co-owner of Afro Books in the mall, who says she always sees young girls - as young as 12 and 13, soliciting men and women.

"We have men that sit in this mall until the time we open until the time we close, soliciting young girls."

But Bonsu reaches out to these young girls when she can.

"Since we believe it takes a village to raise a child, we bring the young ladies in we sit, we talk to them. Sometimes we give them books.
Sometimes we have round tables and bring them in to store to sit and talk."

She says for community is key, which is all along the lines of Sharon Saffold's mission.

"Look further than what you see. Don't let your eyes turn you off from a minor. That minor could be sexually exploited, that minor could be being prostituted by a pimp, but because she's so unappealing to you, you're not looking to help her or dig deeper into her situation, because she could be crying out for help."

Saffold says call the police - let them know someone may need help.


  Sex Trafficking in Chicago: Cook County Sheriff's Dept. Helps Raise Awareness

by Jan Jeffcoat

FOX Chicago News

Chicago - Some might think sex trafficking is something that just happens in other countries.

It's a growing epidemic in the city of Chicago.

Some experts say it is a dangerous problem that few people are aware of, and is hard to believe goes on so close to home.

A young Chicago woman who was caught up in a sex traffic operation shared her horrific story with FOX Chicago's Jan Jeffcoat.

To protect her identity, we are calling her Brittany.

She told Jan her nightmare began when she was just 16 and on a night when she got into a heated argument with her parents.

Brittany said, “So I ran away from home and ran into a girlfriend of mine. She had informed me that I could come and stay with her and her boyfriend at the time, I said yes and it sounded like it was going to be a lot of fun, freedom. No parents. No problems."

Brittany said she went with the couple to a house we can only tell you is in the South Suburbs. She also said she only planned to stay just one night.

Once in side the house, her plan changed. Brittany says her friend's boyfriend took her to back bedroom and "that's when he forced himself on me. He raped me right then and there."

Brittany fought and tried to get out, but she was chained to a bed and locked inside a room. She says the boyfriend then told her "he was a pimp and was going to prostitute me out."

Brittany refused and tried to get away but couldn't do so. She added, "They say it, you have to do it. If you don't, they'll kill you or they'll kill your family."

Brittany said there were several others girls in the house; some even younger than she was. They were not allowed to communicate with each other but she could hear their screams through the walls.
Brittany explained, "There were probably four, maybe five different bedrooms. Each room had a different girl and it would have a letter above the door and that's how he would tell the ‘John' to go in that room."

When describing her room, Brittany said, "All I had was a bed, there was a chain from the bed to my ankle and I had a coffee can cup which I had to use to go to the bathroom. He would throw us a sheet every now and again because the rooms would get pretty cold for us to keep warm with but yet again we were completely naked."

Brittany said she was held captive for more than three years, constantly sedated and injected with drugs. All while hundreds of "Johns" walked through the door.

No one ever reported seeing the young girls chained to these beds. No neighbors thought the constant traffic in and out of the house was suspicious.

'I worried about my mom a lot. Wondering if she knew where I was? If anybody was looking for me, if the police were looking for me,” Brittany said. “A lot of times I would pray the swat team or officers would kick in that door. I wanted to go home but they never kicked in."

Brittany's story is real and it concerns people like Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

When it comes to sex trafficking, he said, “People aren't understanding the magnitude of it, and seriousness of it."

Dart said the sex trafficking industry is widespread in Chicago; it is hard to track the number of underage girls involved. Sheriff Dart said he has seen girls as young as 13 years old become victims.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Illinois is among the top ten states it receives the most calls from and the Department of Justice recently designated Chicago as a "high intensity area" for sex trafficking.

Once enslaved, many girls never make it out. Brittany never gave up. She eventually tricked one of her captors into letting her outside, and that's when she made a run for it and escaped.

"I want girls out there to know that there are people that are trying to help,” Brittany said. “There is help out there to get the strength like I did, get that will and get away."

Brittany is now 22 years old, and told Jan it took her a year to sober up after her three years of her drug induced enslavement.

She works with the Cook County Sheriff's office and Dreamcatcher's foundation to help educate and rehabilitate other young women who share a similar story.

On Thursday, in part two of this special report, find out how to stop the cycle of human trafficking in Chicago that Sheriff Tom Dart and other authorities say is spiraling out of control.

Also find out where these abductions are taking place and how young women can avoid the dangers of falling victim to these predators.

The US Dept of Justice has a list of resources on their website.

The public can also report human trafficking tips to this hotline: The Salvation Army STOP IT Program at (877) 606-3158 .

Anyone with information can email tips directly to the Cook County States Attorney Human Trafficking Initiative at


StreetLightPhx Launches Comprehensive Residential Treatment Solution for Victims of Child Sex Slavery

Now, Arizona's Child Victims of Sex Slavery Will Have a Safe Place to Go

PEORIA, AZ-- StreetLightPhx announced today on April 4, a campus in the Phoenix valley will open its doors to girls aged 11 to 17 who have been rescued from domestic minor sex trafficking.

"It's truly a godsend for us," says Sgt. Clay Sutherlin of the Phoenix Police Vice Unit -- the unit of law enforcement dedicated to stopping child prostitution and human trafficking. They have a national reputation for successfully rescuing such victims.

StreetLight PHX uses strong graphics and messages on its web site

The US Department of Justice and the FBI estimate that there are well over 100,000 children that are being sexually exploited each year, within the borders of the United States alone while the Phoenix Police Department Vice Unit estimates there are in excess of 200 underage girls sold repeatedly for sex in greater Phoenix and our local communities.

When rescued from captivity, these girls historically have been sent to jail or fallen back into slavery because no facility was equipped to care for them.

"Now, we have another option," says Sutherlin. "We have StreetLight."

StreetLight's mission is Eradicating Child Sex Slavery through awareness, prevention and holistic care. The aftercare program opening this month is a licensed group home and will focus on stabilizing victims to prepare them for therapy to address their deep trauma.

Survivors will go straight from the streets to the secure, home-like StreetLight campus -- a mini-neighborhood complete with six thoughtfully furnished cottages, a garden, a community kitchen, recreation space and a playground. Onsite security will protect the premises around the clock, and specially trained caregivers will live with the girls full-time, providing supervision and compassionate care.

Intentional treatment will involve the development of safe relationships, new coping mechanisms and life-skills training. Medical care, art and recreation activities also will be available.

"Treatment planning will be individualized depending on each child's presenting needs," says Melodee Bosna, director of residential services for Streetlight.

StreetLight is a unique collaboration of all sectors of society: law enforcement, local and national government, like-minded non-profits, educational institutions, businesses, churches and individuals.

"It really is a community model of healing, and I really believe that will have a lot to do with our sustainability and long-term effectiveness," says Bosna.

Another of the StreetLight PHX graphics and messages from its web site

About StreetLightPhx

'Stop Child Rape for Profit, Inc.' dba/StreetLight is a Arizona based, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2009 committed to Eradicating Child Sex Slavery through a 3-tier strategy of Awareness, Prevention, and Holistic Care. Our 'community-based' comprehensive residential treatment facility model offers a combination of 24-hour supervision within a 'staff-secure, safe-house' environment integrated with intensive multi-disciplined holistic treatment programs to female victims aged 11-17 rescued from Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.

For more information contact:
Jami Throne
623-435-0900 e-mail: Email Contact


South L.A. day care operator charged with lewd acts on 13-year-old

March 29, 2011

Prosecutors charged a South Los Angeles day care center operator Tuesday with sexually molesting her godson after she was allegedly caught having sex with the 13-year-old in a van.

Chelsea Nichole McClelland, 34, was arrested in December near Apple Street and Alsace Avenue, just north of the Santa Monica Freeway near La Brea Avenue. Charges were not immediately filed and she was released.

But she was charged Tuesday with four felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14. The alleged acts occurred between Dec. 1 and Dec. 17, according to Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

McClelland was rearrested without incident Tuesday morning and was being held in lieu of $400,000 bail. If convicted on all counts, she faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in state prison, prosecutors said.

Mid-City residents reported seeing a white van repeatedly parked in the neighborhood. Los Angeles police investigators responded and discovered the boy inside the vehicle. The boy initially told them he was 18, but after being interviewed by LAPD sex crimes detectives, he acknowledged he was 13.

McClelland owned and operated a day-care center out of her home in the 4500 block of 3rd Avenue, according to the LAPD. Police said they believe some of the illegal contact took place when the victim was 12.

McClelland has three biological children and is the legal guardian of a fourth. At the time of her initial arrest by the LAPD, she was caring for eight children at her day care center. Police and the Department of Children and Family Services looked after the children to ensure they were properly cared for and relocated.


Tyler Anastopoulos, a student at City View Junior/Senior High School in Wichita Falls, Tex.,
told his story to state legislators, who are considering a ban on corporal punishment.
  Schools Under Pressure to Spare the Rod Forever


When Tyler Anastopoulos got in trouble for skipping detention at his high school recently, he received the same punishment that students in parts of rural Texas have been getting for generations.

Tyler, an 11th grader from Wichita Falls, was sent to the assistant principal and given three swift swats to the backside with a paddle, recalled Angie Herring, his mother. The blows were so severe that they caused deep bruises, and Tyler wound up in the hospital, Ms. Herring said.

While the image of the high school principal patrolling the halls with paddle in hand is largely of the past, corporal punishment is still alive in 20 states, according to the Center for Effective Discipline, which tracks its use in schools around the country and encourages its end.

Most of those states are in the South, where paddling remains ingrained in the social and family fabric of some communities.

Each year, prodded by child safety advocates, state legislatures debate whether corporal punishment amounts to an archaic form of child abuse or an effective means of discipline.

This month, Tyler, who attends City View Junior/Senior High School, told his story to lawmakers in Texas, which is considering a ban on corporal punishment. The same week, legislators in New Mexico voted to end the practice there.

Texas schools, Ms. Herring fumed, appear to have free rein in disciplining a student, “as long as you don't kill him.”

“If I did that to my son,” she said, “I'd go to jail.”

Steve Harris, the superintendent of the City View Independent School District in Wichita Falls, declined to comment in detail on the case but said his investigation of the school had found no wrongdoing. Corporal punishment, Mr. Harris pointed out, has long been “one of the tools in the toolbox we use for discipline.”

Up until about 25 years ago, corporal punishment in public schools could be found in all but a handful of states, said Nadine Block, the founder of the Center for Effective Discipline. Prompted by the threat of lawsuits and research that questioned its effectiveness, states gradually started banning the practice.

According to estimates by the federal Department of Education, 223,190 children were subjected to corporal punishment in the 2005-6 school year. That was a nearly 20 percent drop from a few years earlier, Ms. Block said.

In Texas, at least 27 of about 1,000 school districts still use corporal punishment, said Jimmy Dunne, the founder and president of another group that is against the practice, People Opposed to Paddling Students.

That is enough to prompt advocates like Mr. Dunne to push to end the practice there. One bill being considered by the Legislature would permit corporal punishment only if parents specifically consent to it for their children. Another would ban it in schools altogether.

“Hitting children in our schools with boards is child abuse, and it promotes child abuse at home,” said Mr. Dunne, a former math teacher in Houston. “Parents see it's legal in schools and think it's O.K. to do at home.”

In New Mexico — where more than a third of the school districts permit corporal punishment, according to a local children's legal services group — legislators approved a paddling ban this month. Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, has not indicated whether she will sign the bill.

Opponents of the measure, like State Senator Vernon D. Asbill, worried that a ban would tie teachers' hands and make it harder for them to control students. “With parental supervision and parental approval, I believe it's appropriate,” said Mr. Asbill, a Republican and a longtime teacher and school administrator from Carlsbad. “The threat of it keeps many of our kids in line so they can learn.”

But State Senator Cynthia Nava, a Democrat and a school superintendent from Las Cruces who supports the ban, said schools were no place for violence of any sort. “It's shocking to me that people got up on the floor and argued passionately to preserve it,” she said of corporal punishment. “We should be educating kids that they can't solve problems with violence.”

Calls to end corporal punishment have gotten louder of late, even in states unlikely to pass a ban. In Mississippi, the family of a teenager who was paddled in school has filed a federal lawsuit. The suit, filed against the Tate County School District, claims that corporal punishment is unconstitutional because it is applied disproportionately to boys.

The teenager's lawyer, Joe Murray, is also representing the family of another student who was paddled at the same high school this month. In that case, the boy was struck so hard that he passed out and broke his jaw, Mr. Murray said.

An administrator who oversees the school district, James Malone, would not comment but said boys typically got in more trouble than girls.

In Louisiana, where corporal punishment is also legal, controversy erupted this year after the board of trustees for St. Augustine High School, the lone Catholic school in New Orleans and perhaps the country that still paddled its students, decided to ban the practice. St. Augustine was under pressure from Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, who has said that paddling promotes violence.

But the school's administration and alumni want the practice reinstated. They argue that paddling for minor offenses has been instrumental in helping St. Augustine build character and achieve high graduation rates.

The school's students have also voiced their support, holding a march in New Orleans to demand that the archbishop reverse his position.

Jacob Washington, a senior and the student body president, helped organize the march.

“This is a tradition for the school,” he said. “It's how the school has been run for 60 years. Just the seniors alone — we can tell the difference between our class and some of the newer students who didn't receive the same discipline.”


Wheelock College to discuss Mass. sex trafficking

March 30, 2011

BOSTON— Wheelock College is set to hold a panel discussion on the growing sex trafficking in Massachusetts. The discussion, titled "Stopping the Pimps, Stopping the Johns: Ending the Demand for Sex Trafficking," is scheduled for Wednesday and will feature area experts and law enforcement officials.

Those scheduled to speak include Donna Gavin, commander of the Boston Police human trafficking unit and the Massachusetts task force to combat human trafficking.

Experts believe around 14,000 to 17,000 people are trafficked into the U.S. every year, including those from Latin America, Asia and Africa.

The panel is part of the Brookline school's sixth annual "Winter Policy Talks."


In Feb, an estimated 600 to 800 people showed up
at the capitol to join in the 3rd annual "lobby
day” event to raise awareness about the
commercial sexual exploitation of children in GA
  Sex Trafficking Bill Clears Senate With Unanimous Vote

by Chandra R. Thomas

Mar 30, 2011

The Georgia Senate's unanimous vote in support of the human trafficking bill that toughens the penalty for sex traffickers and seeks to improve outcomes for victims is a historic victory, state child advocates say.

“To have legislation written and passed in the same session is amazing and seems historic,” gushes Street GRACE Executive Director Cheryl DeLuca Johnson. “This is huge! The leadership of [lead sponsor] Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Atlanta) and [supporter] Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Gwinnett) was invaluable to this process.”

Julianna McConnell agrees. “I've been a lobbyist for 20 years and this is probably one of the most fulfilling moments of my career,” says McConnell, Street GRACE advocacy chairperson. “This legislation is not about the work of one person; it's been an ongoing effort for several years. To pass both the House and the Senate with just one dissenting vote in the House says a lot.

It's like Rep. Lindsey said, this legislation ‘applies Old Testament justice against those who commit the crime of trafficking and provides New Testament compassion for those who are victims.”

McConnell says the victory is especially important because Atlanta is a known hub for human trafficking. Street GRACE representatives say about 375 girls are exploited in Georgia each month, with the majority of the illegal incidents occurring in Atlanta. In that same time frame, the organization estimates, about 7,200 men knowingly or unknowingly purchase sex from teen girls in the state.

Street Grace, a Norcross-based non-profit, strives
to eliminate child sexual exploitation in Atlanta.
  “It's not just the pimps, we also need to crack down on the Johns; the buyers,” says supporter Katherine White McCullough. “We have to get to that point in society where we no longer say ‘boys will be boys.' These people are buying children younger and younger and that's not okay.”

Liz Odom of Decatur says she ventured down to the capitol as a show of support for the measure.

“A lot of people don't know what's happening here in our state,” she says. “This vote shows that we're ready for a change in Georgia. This is truly a testament that people care.”

HB 200 passed out of the Senate unanimously without any amendments Tuesday, setting off a wave of excitement among the small group of supporters gathered in the state capitol. About 40 men and women, mostly from local churches and community organizations, donned black shirts and purple scarves in a show of support.

Nikema Williams was among those sporting the scarves handed out by representatives from We Urge You, the umbrella organization for non-profits Street GRACE, A Future. Not A Past and Wellspring Living. “It just feels good to win,” says the Northwest Atlanta resident. “This is an opportunity for Georgia's policies to no longer mirror third world countries in regards to this issue.”

Her fellow supporter Amber English says she was elated to be at the capitol in time for the final vote.

“Usually people are up here protesting or opposing something,” she says. “It's always good to see something positive happen. The fact that it was a unanimous vote definitely makes the strong statement that this is legislation that we all can get behind.”

Key provisions in HB 200 include:

  • Provides an expanded definition of “coercion” in the human trafficking statute, to include causing or threatening financial harm.

  • Prohibits defense by blood relation – such as parents exploiting their children – or by marriage – such as a husband “selling” his wife.

  • Significantly beefs up penalties for human traffickers who target minors. If the victim is at least 16 but less than 18 years old, the crime is a felony and punishable by 5-20 years in prison and a fine of $2,500 to $10,000. If the victim is under 16 years old, the crime is a felony and punishable by 10-30 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

  • Treats those in sexual servitude as victims, not criminals, by offering them recovery under the state crime victims fund.

  • Provides an affirmative defense for victims when coming forward to the sexual crimes of prostitution, sodomy, solicitation of sodomy and masturbation for hire if the defendant was being trafficked for sexual servitude.

  • Allows the state to seize any real or personal property that a trafficker used for, or bought with the proceeds of the crime.

  • Requires law enforcement agencies to receive training on how to relate to human trafficking victims.

“We, as a state, are saying to these traffickers ‘you are no longer allowed to do this to our children in Georgia,'” adds McConnell. “And if you do, we will are now able to increase the penalties and seize all of your assets. HB 200 includes training for law enforcement and involves the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. This is very well-rounded legislation.”

Rep. Lindsey's bill built upon the foundation established by a failed measure introduced last year by Sen. Unterman, which pushed for children 16 and under to be treated as victims and not criminals in prostitution cases. Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens had members of his staff work with Rep. Lindsey to strengthen the legal framework for the new measure, in hopes that it would avoid a similar fate.

On the heels of the victory, supporters of the measure say now it is time to gear up for the next stage of their efforts. “Now that we have a good bill, we have to make sure it is implemented,” says McCullough. “A Future Not A Past has already trained over $2,000 law enforcement officers across the state. We're also doing a series of trainings with prosecutors. We will all have to continue this grass roots movement.”


  LT Pimp Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking

One week after Lawrence Taylor escaped jail time ... the pimp who set him up with a 16-year-old prostitute is pleading guilty to one count of sex trafficking for profit.

Rasheed Davis (left) struck the deal and entered his plea today in Manhattan Federal Court.

We don't know terms of the deal, but maximum sentence for the crime is 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Davis' sentencing is scheduled for August.

He's currently being held in federal custody.

Last week Taylor got six years probation for sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute.


  Atlanta drag queen, male stripper arrested for child sex trafficking

by Matt Comer

March 30, 2011

Atlanta drag queen Pasha Nicole, we've got one tip for you: When your go-go dancer housemate locks his gay sex slaves in the closet, it's best not to find the nearest television camera and profess that you really didn't know what was happening.

But there was Nicole, now known to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office as Christopher Thomas Lynch, gabbing to Fox 5 on March 2.

That was the same day that deputies arrested her housemate Steven Donald Lemery – the 35-year-old better known to customers of BJ Roosters, the go-go bar on Cheshire Bridge Road, as dancer Steven Lang -- and charged him with using social media sites to entice male teens from Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina to visit his home in Douglas County for sex, only to then lock some of them in his bedroom closet and force them into prostitution.

“[Lemery] entered into a sexual relationship with this child and began to prostitute him online,” Sheriff Phil Miller tells Fox 5 of a victim from Alabama.

Miller says there may be as many as four victims, some of them minors. Douglas County is about 25 miles west of Atlanta.

Nicole was later arrested after she appeared on Atlanta news:

As Lemery was cooling his heels at the Douglas County Jail, where he's being held without bond, Nicole took to the Atlanta airwaves to pitch her spin on the story. It goes something like this: She lived in the house with Lemery, Lemery's wife, the boyfriend of Lemery's wife, and the children that Lemery and his wife somehow managed to have when they weren't disrupted from the noise coming from their master bedroom closet. That's where authorities allege Lemery stowed his victims. And Nicole, to hear her tell it, didn't know of the alleged depravity taking place.

“There had been a vast amount of different boys coming into the house,” Nicole tells Fox 5. “Some of them looked younger. I was asking questions. Steven would get really offensive and make vague threats.”

A victim from Alabama recognized Nicole as one of his abusers and later called police, after which she was arrested and charged with human trafficking of a minor person for sexual servitude, 2 counts of sexual exploitation of a child, pandering by compulsion and possession of drug-related objects.

Other victims in the trafficking case came from Georgia and South Carolina.


  UT students raise awareness of sex trafficking in Toledo

March 29, 2011


The sex trafficking trade of young girls is big business, and Toledo is among the top cities in America where it's happening.

Some students at the University of Toledo are dressing up to stop the sex trade!

They're wearing the same dress every day for 30 days, something that has a lot of people on campus talking.

Shannon Longenecker is working to change the sex trafficking trade by not changing.

She says, "To know something as horrific as this is going on in my own backyard, I couldn't help but get up and out of my seat and do something about it."

It's called "One Dress One Month." Dozens of UT students are wearing the same dress every day for an entire month as part of an effort to raise money and awareness for The Daughter Project, a local non-profit organization that helps girls recover from the trauma of the sex trafficking trade.

Related Content

More: One Dress One Month on Facebook

More: The Daughter Project

Erika Lowry started the UT campaign. She says, "I know I can't physically go there and rescue them from these brothels, but I figure by prayer and getting people to partner with me to raise awareness and make donations that will hopefully make a difference in the long run."

"I've already had quite a few people say, 'It's not that warm. Why are you in a dress?' It's been an awesome way to facilitate conversations," Longenecker says. "People have been very interested and are asking how they can help, how can I get involved, which is what this whole movement is about."

Brianna Lawrence is getting people's attention by wearing a sign on her dress. "The first thing I tell them is that it's for The Daughter Project," she says. "A lot of times people are shocked that this even exists in Toledo, and I have to say, 'yes we are in the top five for sex trafficking.'"

The obvious question: Just how tough is it to pull the same thing out of your closet day after day? Longenecker says, "Luckily, we're allowed to wash the dress we're wearing. It's actually encouraged."

The "One Dress One Month" group at UT started with just 10 members about a week ago. Thanks to Facebook, there are more than 150 today!

Organizers hope to raise a couple thousand dollars for The Daughter Project. If you'd like to help or make a donation, visit One Dress One Month on Facebook or go to


Shelly Schoffner
  Delphos Ohio Woman Feared Missing

by Shelly Schoffner

The family of a Delphos woman fears she may be missing or in danger.

The Lima News reports a missing persons report has been filed for 42-year-old Shelly Schoffner, who was visiting friends in Kentucky when she was last heard from.

According to the report, Schoffner had told her family she had caught a ride back to Delphos on March 21st, and hasn't been in contact with anyone since.

Delphos Police say it is too early to suspect any foul play.

Anyone with information on her where Schoffner may be is urged to call either the Delphos Police or the Kentucky State Police.


  Missing Children Photo: NCMEC/Publi Domain

Amber Alerts Examiner profiling missing children cases by state on Facebook

by Charisse Van Horn, Amber Alerts Examiner

March 30th

Amber Alerts Examiner profiling missing children cases by state on Facebook On March 30, 2011, the Amber Alerts Examiner announced her column would profile missing children from each state on the official Amber Alerts and Missing Children Cases Facebook page.

As of March 30, missing children from Alabama, Alaska and Arizona have been profiled with a new state covered each day.

Once the states are completed, missing children from U.S. territories will be added, followed by international missing children cases.

In addition to the official Facebook page, a new Twitter account has been established as each missing person's case is tweeted with a link taking the user directly to the missing person's poster, photo and profile page at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's website. You may connect with the Amber Alerts Examiner through the Facebook group, the official Twitter account or through the separate blog: Amber Alerts and Missing Children Cases update, links are below.

It is the hope of the Amber Alerts Examiner that the profiles of each missing person will be shared across social media networks, reposted on individual pages, and viewed by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. Since the profiles include children who have been missing for decades, many of the cases include age progressed photos. It is important that these cases receive as much coverage as possible as they are the first to drop from media attention. The case of Jaycee Dugard is a testament that it is never too late to hope for a missing child's safe return.

Important Links

Amber Alerts and Missing Children Cases Facebook

Amber Alerts Examiner on Twitter

Amber Alerts and Missing Children Cases Blog

Suggested by the author:


Michael William Snyder
  Children's author in O.C. charged in sexual assault of 12-year-old girl

March 28, 2011

Authorities in Orange County said Monday they were looking for possible additional victims of a children's book author charged with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl who is a relative.

Michael William Snyder, 43, a San Clemente resident, allegedly rubbed the girl's chest and stomach under her shirt "with a sexual intent" and sat her on his lap and put his hands up her skirt, the Orange County district attorney's office said in a statement.

The girl's mother became suspicious after her daughter did not want to be left alone with Snyder, according to the district attorney's office.

The mother contacted authorities.

Snyder calls himself "Mr. Mike" and is an author and illustrator, according to his website. He could not be reached Monday afternoon for comment.

He is charged with four felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 and is free on $100,000 bail, authorities said. Snyder is scheduled to be arraigned April 8 at the Newport Beach courthouse.

Anyone with information is asked to call Investigator Lou Gutierrez at (714) 347-8794 .


LEAVING HOME -- The 11-year-old girl often came home, right, late at night, her father says.
  3-Month Nightmare Emerges in Rape Inquiry


CLEVELAND, Tex. — A year ago, the 11-year-old girl who the police say was the victim of repeated gang rapes in this East Texas town was an outgoing honor roll student, brimming with enthusiasm, who went on hikes and planted trees with a youth group here.

“She has always been a really bubbly child,” said Brenda Myers, director of the Community and Children's Impact Center, who worked with her. “She always had a smile on her face.”

But in October, just after starting sixth grade, the girl became withdrawn, Ms. Myers said, and in November, she stopped attending the center's meetings.

What happened during those months is the subject of a criminal investigation that has sent waves of shock and sorrow through this impoverished town and has provoked anger across the nation.

The police say the girl was raped on at least six occasions, from Sept. 15 to Dec. 3. Nineteen boys and men, ages 14 to 27, have been charged in connection with the rapes, the most recent arrest last Wednesday.

Court documents and dozens of interviews over several weeks with the girl's family, her friends and neighbors, as well as those who know the defendants, provide a more complete picture of what occurred as well as a deeper portrait of the victim. What begins to emerge is the nightmarish ordeal of a young girl over two and a half months involving an eclectic group of young men, some with criminal records, who shared a powerful neighborhood bond.

In his first interview, with The New York Times, the father of the girl, a 57-year-old carpenter named Juan, said he became aware of his daughter's abuse in late November, when she arrived home at 3 or 4 a.m. after having slipped out without permission. She was shaking and weeping when her mother opened the door to their small white frame house, he said, and she immediately closed herself in her room.

Later in the day, she told her mother she had been raped after her parents found sexually explicit photos that had been sent to her father's cellphone, which she had been using. She told her father that the men had threatened to kill her.

Juan, whose last name is being withheld to protect his daughter's identity, said his wife reported the crime to the police three days later, but in court documents the Cleveland Police Department said it was first alerted on Dec. 3 by school authorities.

Juan said his daughter had been a bright and easygoing girl, adept at schoolwork. As she reached puberty, he said, she had grown tall for her age and had begun to talk about wanting to be a fashion model. Yet she was still a child; her bed was piled high with stuffed animals. “Her mind is a child's mind,” he said. “That's what makes me so angry.”

A TROUBLED HOME -- The initial assaults occurred
in the Rayford T. Ellis home, the affidavits say.
  The arrests have raised fundamental questions about how a girl might have been repeatedly abused by many men and boys in a tightly knit community without any adult intervening, or even seeming to register that something was amiss, until sexually explicit videos of the victim began circulating in local schools.

“It wasn't that anyone was asleep,” said the Rev. Travis Hulett Jr., the pastor of the New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, which anchors the Precinct 20 neighborhood where most of the defendants live. “You can be awake and see things and still not do anything.”

The Cleveland police and the local district attorney have released little information about the alleged rapes and the evidence, and their silence has allowed rumor and speculation to flourish. Judge Mark Morefield of State District Court issued a broad order two weeks ago prohibiting law enforcement officials, defense lawyers, potential witnesses and relatives of the girl and defendants from speaking about the case to reporters.

According to court documents, the police seized the telephones of three men arrested, and the father of the girl said his family's phones and computer were taken for evidence, as well.

Eighteen defendants have pleaded not guilty; the 19th has yet to be arraigned.

The police interviewed the girl in early December, after school security officials heard rumors about sexually explicit videos circulating among the students. Then an elementary school student told a school employee she had seen pictures of the girl having sex with two young men, one of them a high school basketball star.

The girl, a sixth grader whose parents are immigrants from Mexico, told investigators that one of the defendants called her on Sunday, Nov. 28, during the Thanksgiving break, and asked if she wanted “to ride around,” according to four police search warrant affidavits.

That defendant, Eric B. McGowen, 19, who was on probation for burglary, and two other male teenagers picked her up at her house, and took her to a house in Precinct 20, the affidavits said. The wooded community is a hodgepodge of small houses, trailers and churches, bordered on two sides by railroad tracks and on a third by a prison. Everyone is related by blood or friendship.

The girl was taken to a blue house with white trim and a heart-shaped welcome sign — a house with a troubled history. The head of the household, Rayford T. Ellis, has a long criminal record and is a registered sex offender; one of his sons, Authur Ellis, 27, was arrested this year on murder charges. Neither man is charged in this case.

The police say a younger son, Rayford T. Ellis Jr., 19, an iron worker known as Mookie, shot and killed a teenager at the same house in August 2008. The younger Rayford Ellis was awaiting trial on manslaughter charges when he was arrested in early February on charges that he had raped the girl. (He has fathered at least five children with four young women, according to paternity suits.)

It is unclear from the affidavits if the younger Mr. Ellis was there the night of Nov. 28. But the girl said that a cousin, Timothy D. Ellis, 19, was there, and ordered her to strip, telling her that he would “have some girls beat her up” and would not drive her home if she refused, the affidavits said.

The affidavits said the girl told investigators that she then “engaged in sexual intercourse and oral sex” with several of the men present, among them Jared G. McPherson, 18, a high school basketball player, and Jared L. Cruse, also 18, who has since been charged with robbing a grocery store in the next county.

During the sexual assault, the girl said, she heard Mr. McGowen call someone on the phone and invite him to the house to have sex with her, the affidavits said. Four more men whom she did not know arrived.

The assault was interrupted when Timothy Ellis's aunt arrived at the house, the affidavits said, and the men took the girl out a back window to a squalid abandoned trailer a block away, where the sexual attack continued. Her underwear was left behind.

According to indictments, one man accused of participating was Kelvin R. King, 21, who was out on bond while awaiting trial on rape and robbery charges. Another was Marcus A. Porchia, 26, who worked at a local mental health clinic. Yet another, Isaiah R. Ross, 21, the son of a local school board member, was also present at the Nov. 28 rape, according to a search warrant affidavit for his telephone.

The November assault was not isolated, court documents say. Mr. King's brother, Xavier M. King, 17, and Devo Shaun Green, 20, are accused of raping the girl on Sept. 15. Mr. McGowen and two others — Jamarcus N. Napper, 18, and Cedric DeRay Scott, 27 — are charged with sexually assaulting her on Oct. 25. Carlos B. Ligons, 22, is charged with sexually assaulting her on Dec. 1. The last indictment, released Monday, accuses Walter J. Harrison, 26, of raping her on Dec. 1 and Dec. 3. The police released no details about those episodes.

Four of the defendants are charged with continuous sexual abuse of a young child. The rest are charged with a single count of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14. Both felonies carry a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. In Texas, a child under 17 cannot give legal consent and, as in most states, ignorance of a child's age is not a legal defense.

Bertha Cleveland, an aunt of Mr. Cruse, said her nephew went to church regularly, held down a job at McDonald's and had told her he intended to go to college. “Our younger generation is running rampant,” she said. “The devil is in full control.”

Residents of Precinct 20 were torn between condemning the crime and defending the young men. Several expressed doubt that all of them were guilty. The grandmother of Mr. Napper said he was out of town at the time of the assaults.

Xavier King, a high school student accused in the Sept. 15 rape, told The New York Times that he did not know the girl and that he thought he had been arrested because “the people I hang with probably said my name, and if they go down, I go down with them.”

The small house where the girl lived is on a dusty road on the outskirts of town, about 10 miles from Precinct 20. There were chickens in the yard and a trampoline out front, where her father sometimes slept during the afternoons. She lived there with her parents, two older sisters who were in high school and a younger brother.

A 36-year-old cousin of the girl, who lived next door, said her family was in dire economic straits since Juan stopped working. The water and electricity had been cut off at times in recent months.

The house is empty now. Two weeks ago, the family moved to another town after detectives told the parents that they were in danger, Juan said.

The father said he had been worried about his daughter's safety for months before the assaults. She had been sneaking out of the house two or three nights a week, he said, climbing out a bedroom window. Some nights she would come home as late as 11 p.m. or midnight, saying she had visited girlfriends. He said he and his wife had scolded her almost daily.

Both parents are plagued with health problems. Juan injured his back in November 2009 and has not held a steady job since. A diabetic, he receives disability checks of $700 a month. His wife, 42, was told last year that she had a mass in her brain, and a doctor had said it should be removed, friends said. She suffers frequent headaches and fainting spells.

Yet she put off surgery and continued to work at night at a cashier at an underground gambling parlor, friends said. “She wasn't interested in living,” said Maria Luisa Lopez, a longtime friend. “She felt very sad.”

Two months ago, when the arrests started, the state Child Protective Services placed the girl, who had also received threats, in a foster home. “They told her it was best that they take her away from this town,” Ms. Lopez said.

A case worker has informed Juan that he and his wife must attend family therapy sessions to regain custody. Juan said he was despondent at the prospect of losing his daughter permanently. He said that she was doing well but that she was still fearful. “You can see she's not happy,” he said. Then he added, “She will never recover from this.”


Donald J. McGuire, later convicted of
sexual abuse, with John Doe 129 at his
First Communion in 1985.
  Suit Says Jesuits Ignored Warnings About Priest


Jesuit leaders in Chicago largely ignored or kept secret numerous reports, spanning four decades, that a prominent priest was sexually abusing teenage boys, lawyers for victims charged on Monday in a motion for punitive damages in a Chicago court.

Included in the motion were more than 65 recently obtained church documents and depositions that, the lawyers said, demonstrated “a reckless disregard for the safety of others in the face of repeated reports of sexual misconduct” on the part of Chicago Jesuit leaders.

The former priest, Donald J. McGuire, now 80, was convicted on several counts of sex abuse in state and federal courts in 2006 and 2008, and is serving a 25-year federal sentence.

The newly public documents date from the early 1960s, when a concerned Austrian priest, in imperfect English, first observed in a letter to Chicago Jesuits that Father McGuire, newly ordained and studying in Europe, had “much relations with several boys.”

The reports extend into the last decade, when Father McGuire reportedly ignored admonitions to stop traveling with young assistants, molesting one as late as 2003, as law enforcement was closing in.

The legal motion argues that Father McGuire's superiors in Chicago turned “a blind eye to his criminal actions.”

The current case started with a civil suit brought by six men who say they were victims. Three have since settled with the Jesuits, but three others, identified as John Doe 117, John Doe 118 and John Doe 129, are still pursuing the suit against the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus and Mr. McGuire. Most of the newly released documents were obtained in the discovery process for the suit: letters and memos the church was required to produce from its files, and transcripts of depositions.

The motion filed on Monday asks the Cook County Circuit Court to take the unusual step of considering additional, punitive damages, given what the motion says is the evidence of a long trail of credible warnings about the priest's behavior and ineffective responses by church officials.

Terence McKiernan, president of, a victim advocacy group that has long monitored the church's response to sexual abuse charges, said that the series of warnings given to Jesuit leaders by parents and fellow priests was unusually long and clear.

“I have never seen such detailed and frequent notice received by the priest's superiors, so many ‘directives' regarding the priest's future behavior, and so much evidence presented to his superiors that those directives were being violated, without the priest being removed from ministry,” Mr. McKiernan said.

His group has posted a history of the case and many of the key documents.

Mariah E. Moran, a lawyer for the Chicago Province, said she could not comment on the motion because she had not had a chance to study it, and a spokesman for the province did not respond to requests for comment. In depositions and settlement meetings over the last three years, senior Jesuit officials have said that until recent years they had not heard firm-enough evidence of sexual abuse to justify stronger action against Father McGuire.

Last week, the Jesuits' Oregon Province agreed to pay $166 million to hundreds of victims of sexual abuse, which occurred decades ago at remote Indian boarding schools. The two cases shed rare light on how religious orders have dealt with charges of sexual abuse, as opposed to the Catholic dioceses and bishops at the center of most recent scandals. The Jesuits are the world's largest Roman Catholic religious order.

The motion filed on Monday charges that the church misled prosecutors in 2006, with its lawyers claiming that they had little information about the priest — despite the lengthy record of complaints.

The case has been acutely troublesome for the Jesuits, an order known for its scholarship and its elite high schools and universities. Father McGuire was by all accounts a mesmerizing teacher, and after he was barred by some Jesuit schools in the 1960s and 1970s for suspicious behavior, including having students share his bedroom, he went on to became a popular leader of eight-day spiritual retreats around the country and the world.

For about two decades, starting in the early 1980s, he was a spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa, who put him in charge of retreats for the nuns in her worldwide order, Missionaries of Charity. Several times each year, in India, the United States, Russia and other countries, he led retreats for the sisters.

In these travels he routinely took along a teenage boy as an assistant, saying he needed help administering his diabetes treatment. In complaints voiced by some parents and priests at the time, and in later depositions, those assistants said their duties often included sleeping in the same bed as Father McGuire, showering and reading pornography together, providing intimate massages and watching him masturbate.

The Jesuits have their own administrative structure, with a leader in Rome and regional provinces in the United States, although they also operate with permission from local bishops.

On his return from Europe in the 1960s, Father McGuire was assigned to live and teach at Loyola Academy, a high school in Wilmette, Ill. Two boys stayed with him in his room for about two years each, where he constantly abused them, according to the 2006 trial.

In 1969 the second of those boys, then 15, ran away and described the abuse to his parish priest, who contacted the Jesuit president of the academy. The school responded by removing Father McGuire, but, according to a letter released on Monday, publicly described his departure as a “sabbatical.”

In 1991, in another of the many warnings revealed on Monday, the director of a retreat house in California reported to the Chicago Province's leader that Father McGuire was traveling with a teenage boy from Alaska and sharing a bed with him, and that the boy's mother had expressed her concern that “her son has in some way changed.”

That year, the Chicago Province's leader, the Rev. Robert A. Wild, imposed the first set of “guidelines” on Father McGuire. In written instructions he said: “I ask that you not travel on any overnight trip with any boy or girl under the age of 18 and preferably even under the age of 21.” But Father McGuire was left to police himself, and Father Wild said in a 2009 deposition that he had regarded the case as “a serious matter” but also “ambiguous.”

The province sent Father McGuire in 1993 for a psychiatric examination and six months at a treatment center in Maryland — but in the week before he was to report for the evaluation, he was allowed to conduct a retreat in Phoenix, where he molested another boy, the documents indicate.

As late as 1998, the new documents show, the Chicago provincial wrote a letter of “good standing” for Father McGuire to allow him to minister in a diocese, stating that “there is nothing to our knowledge in his background which would restrict any ministry with minors.”

As the reports of abuse accumulated, the Chicago leaders issued one set of restrictions after another on Father McGuire, finally, in 2002, saying he could minister only to nuns in the Chicago region. But none of these directives were enforced, the court motion asserts.

Father McGuire was formally removed from the priesthood in February 2008 after a conviction in Wisconsin and after a federal indictment had been issued in Illinois.



Mira Sorvino's fight: Human trafficking

March 29, 2011


Actress and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Mira Sorvino speaks about meeting a young girl rescued from a sex trafficking ring

“You can't actually escape the horrendousness of what people are telling you and the pain that they have lived through - and the idea that you are talking to a tiny percentile who got away,” Sorvino tells CNN's Jim Clancy.


Yashanee Vaughn
  Girl, 14, missing for more than a week

PORTLAND, Ore. – Police now consider the case of a missing 14-year-old girl, who they believe ran away, a missing persons' investigation.

Yashanee Vaughn was last seen at a Taco Bell on Northeast 82nd and Thompson Street in Portland Saturday night March 19. Her cousin said they were going to meet up in Vancouver but she never showed up.

Lt. Kelli Sheffer, spokeswoman for the Portland Police Bureau, said Monday night that police have been actively looking for her since she disappeared.

But since they haven't been able to find her, detectives classified it as a missing-persons case Monday and believe her safety's at risk.

Sheffer said Vaughn is known to police and were planning to speak with her before she disappeared. She is a suspect in an assault case from last month, but now the focus is on finding her, Sheffer said.

Vaughn's mother, Shaquita Louis, said Saturday she doesn't believe her daughter ran away.

“If anybody has seen her … or anything, just come and say something,” she said. “I'm clueless. I don't know where my daughter is at. And it's hurting me. I want my daughter to come home.”

Vaughn's family and friends have been posting fliers with her picture in Northeast Portland neighborhoods.

Vaughn is 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighs about 115 pounds.

Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call Detective Arjay Dran at 503-823-1081 .


Arrested on Portland's 82nd Avenue for soliciting sex from a 14-year-old girl.
  Sex trafficking in Oregon: No more leniency for hiring child prostitutes

March 28, 2011

by The Oregonian Editorial Board

It's against Oregon law to have sex with a child. Whether the crime is statutory rape or sex abuse, the act is considered uniquely vile.

Yet somehow, the state persists in giving men who hire child prostitutes the kid-glove treatment.

The Oregon Legislature should push back on that tradition and pass legislation this session to make the punishment more closely fit the crime.

Men who hire underage prostitutes in Oregon typically don't face major sanctions. No mandatory jail sentence, no big disruption to their daily routine. They're likely to get a misdemeanor conviction and a fine of around $6,000 -- or less, if they're poor.

It's almost as if child prostitution were a victimless crime.

This accidental state policy of leniency is baffling, given the victims involved.

Though individual circumstances vary, the teenagers involved in these cases often come from abusive homes with nonexistent family support.

Most are girls, and some are boys. These are school-age kids, pimped out on Craigslist or 82nd Avenue and bought for a song by men who have a thing for teens and correctly see hiring one as the lowest-risk way to commit the crime.

Oregon lawmakers have introduced at least nine bills to deal with the problem. Some of the ideas, such as a "shaming" bill that would require the courts to publicize the names and photographs of certain offenders, are enticing but problematic -- especially in cases where a public outing might expose the victim's identity. However, at least two ideas are worth passing into law, and a third deserves serious consideration during the ongoing work sessions and hearings this spring.

For starters, Oregon must get rid of the "I thought she was 18" loophole. No pimp or john should be able to dodge real punishment for victimizing a minor by claiming that, gee, the girl looked awfully grown-up to him.

Also, Oregon should boost the standard minimum fine for buying sex from a minor to at least $10,000 for the first offense and $20,000 for repeat offenses. Judges can still make exceptions for offenders who are too poor to realistically pay the fine. However, if it's true that a significant proportion of offenders are men with college degrees and jobs, as some research suggests, then a hefty fine would both get their attention and also increase the funds available to help others.

Finally, Oregon should keep looking for better ways to cut the ties between underage prostitutes and the criminals and enablers who surround them. One leading proposal is to rely more heavily on locked shelters and detention for victims -- not to punish them, but to use the crime as a chance to intervene and help. This concept needs more work and careful judicial oversight: Done well, it could save lives. Done poorly, it would serve as another way to treat teenage victims more like criminals.

Many legislators have shown initiative on these proposals, especially Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, as well as Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, and Sen. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Portland/Beaverton. Other lawmakers should follow their lead in this matter of public safety and basic justice.

It's not clear whether the Portland area is a hotbed for child prostitution and sex trafficking, as some have alleged, or whether its crime level is standard for bigger cities. Either way, law enforcement in Oregon cities large and small say they've seen ongoing problems with underage prostitution, enabled by Web ads that promise discretion and home delivery. The state needs more tools to fight this crime. And it needs to ditch the unintended message that exploiting an underage teenager for sex is somehow OK when money is involved.


  Ward Police Department receives 'A Child Is Missing' alert program

WARD, Ark. (KTHV) - Ward Police Department now has a method in place to search locally for missing children and elderly and missing persons who may be mentally or physically challenged or disabled.

A Child Is Missing alert program will change the procedure.

Upon receipt of a missing person call, Ward police will now make their first phone call to a toll free number that rings in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

This call, answered 24/7 by a technician at A Child is Missing, initiates a rapid process of information gathering and sophisticated mapping systems which advances thousands of phone calls within minutes with a customized recorded message detailing the missing persons description and last known whereabouts.

The message will also include a police department phone number to be called by anyone who has information regarding the location of the missing person.

Phone numbers that are called by this program include listed numbers and mobile numbers available to ACIM in the selected area.

Mobile numbers, unlisted numbers, broadband/voice-over IP numbers, or TDD/TTY devices can be added to ensure they are called in the event of an alert.

Enter your name so you can receive cell phone, unlisted, broadband/voice-over IP or TDD/TTY device number for alerts here. This information will only be used for emergency message alerts.

To date, the efforts of A Child Is Missing have been credited with more than 800 safe assisted recoveries.


Edward Gonzalez
  Sex Crime Suspect Arrested in East Los Angeles Detectives Seeking Additional Victims

Los Angeles:
The Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) Hollenbeck Area, Sex Crimes Unit Detectives have arrested 28-year-old Edward Gonzalez for Unlawful Sex with a Minor.

On March 25, 2011, at around 7:50 p.m., Hollenbeck Patrol Officers responded to a radio call of a kidnap in progress in the 300 block of Cornwell Street in LAPD's Hollenbeck area. The officers were flagged down by community members who were holding down the suspect of the alleged kidnap.

Detective's further investigation revealed that Gonzalez was seen earlier, approaching several small children, who were playing in the area with the promise of giving the children money. He then lured a 6-year-old girl to accompany him to a local school. Once at school, the suspect sexually assaulted the victim inside a utility closet.

The victim was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment and later released.

Gonzalez is a male Hispanic with brown hair, brown eyes, 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighs approximately 160 pounds. He is currently on Parole and a resident of the area. He was booked into Men's Central Jail on March 26, 2011 and is facing charge for a sex crime against a minor under 10 years of age or younger and is being held on $250,000 bail.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Los Angeles Police Department, Hollenbeck Area Sex Crime Unit detectives at 323-342-8994 March 28, 2011.


Kosovo's Mafia: A hotbed of human trafficking

by Matt McAllester

March 27, 2011 16:03

Allegations of sexual slavery reach the highest levels of the Kosovo government.

PRISTINA, Kosovo — The man in the black leather jacket preferred to speak about his past in the security of a car parked in a distant, rural part of Kosovo.

“The big guys don't take a cut in this business — they run it,” said the man, who gave his name as Luan and acknowledged that he previously made his living from trafficking women and girls into Kosovo against their will so that they could be forced to have sex with paying customers. “The system is highly organized and there's no police or anything to stop it. Everything is corruption from top to bottom.” Every day, an enterprise of trafficking women thrives in this country.

In the aftermath of the U.S.-led war in Kosovo in 1999, this nascent democracy, born of an international effort to protect human rights, has become a hub of the global trade in human beings, according to human rights investigators who monitor human trafficking.

This industry, which operates in a shadowy underworld where former members of armed militias have turned into murderous enforcers in a criminal enterprise, nets an estimated $32 billion globally every year and is widely considered by international human rights' investigators to be the fastest growing criminal activity in the world.

According to an International Labor Office (ILO) report, a single female held for sexual exploitation yields an average of $67,200 annually in Western Europe. In a three-month investigation, GlobalPost has uncovered mounting allegations that the highest levels of the U.S.-backed Kosovo government are involved in this human trafficking.

The victims of the trade are typically teenage girls who are recruited, seduced and often forced into what amounts to sexual slavery. There is prostitution in Kosovo that services the international community, the U.S. and NATO military forces and the U.N. and aid workerts who operate here. But more frequently, investigators say, Kosovo is a trafficking hub for women sold into prostitution rings in the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Western European capitals and elsewhere. Much has been written about these victims, but less has been written about the men who carry out the trafficking.

In the course of its investigation, GlobalPost gained access to several men, including Luan, who say they were directly involved in the trade. The detailed information they provided helped to assemble an impressionistic picture of how the trade works here in Kosovo and beyond. And their statements combined with several intelligence reports and the findings of ongoing criminal investigations into organized crime in Kosovo reveal how the syndicate that carries out this trafficking does so with the complicity — and in some cases direct involvement — of the very highest levels of Kosovo's political leadership.

Sources point to the top

The United States and its NATO allies, and the United Nations, have said publicly for some years that corrupt officials within Kosovo's government and police have at times taken part in the illegal trade of women and girls for sex.

“Trafficking-related corruption continued to hamper the government's anti-trafficking efforts,” the State Department writes in its 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, citing experts in trafficking. “Foreign trafficking victims often arrive in Kosovo with valid documents and employment contracts stamped by Kosovo officials who may be aware that the document holders are trafficking victims.”

But the privately discussed rumors that have circulated for almost as long among American officials, Western diplomats and ordinary people in Kosovo are much worse: that the corruption goes beyond low-level officials, all the way to high-level politicians.

No senior Kosovar official has ever been charged in relation to human trafficking in Kosovo. GlobalPost reporters, during the course of a wider investigation into allegations of broad criminality by former senior Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commanders and their ties to the United States and other Western countries, interviewed three men involved in sex trafficking in Kosovo, two Albanians and Luan, a Kosovar Albanian. All three men insisted that some senior political figures, specifically former KLA commanders, were indeed involved in the trafficking of women and girls. Furthermore, GlobalPost has obtained several intelligence reports from NATO military and intelligence services that also claim senior former KLA commanders have been involved in the sex-slavery business. Further bolstering the claims, various well-informed people, including a former NATO intelligence official who worked in Kosovo and a Western diplomat with experience in the region, all say that it has been common knowledge in American, NATO and U.N. circles for years that the former guerrilla commanders — many of them now in positions of great power in Kosovo — are believed to be linked to sex-trafficking.

Luan said that officials in the parties of two former KLA commanders are closely tied up in the trade. The parties are: the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), whose leader is the current prime minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci; and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), whose leader is Ramush Haradinaj, a former prime minister who is currently in custody at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague as he awaits trial on charges of war crimes.

“The whole thing, as well as any other illegal business, is controlled by the state both in Kosovo, Albania and all of former Yugoslavia,” said one of the Albanian men, who called himself Rexhep. “No one can do [smuggle] drugs, women, cigarettes or anything without blessing from above. I mean, you can try but you'll be found in a ditch somewhere after many days already half-eaten by worms and dogs, which has happened to some.”

The three traffickers who made the allegations against the former KLA commanders are self-described criminals and their stories could not be independently confirmed. They insisted on anonymity, saying they did not want to face retaliation from other criminals or arrest from law enforcement officials. Two GlobalPost reporters have for many years interviewed criminal figures in the Balkans and in every previous case the stories of the criminals have held up to scrutiny. The three traffickers agreed to be interviewed because they trusted the intermediaries used to arrange the interviews and the reporters, who have been working in the region for many years. The traffickers do not know each other; GlobalPost reporters found them through separate channels.

Intelligence reports finger Thaci

One of the NATO intelligence reports obtained by GlobalPost features a diagram linking Thaci to two other men who are then linked to prostitution. The report, like four other Western intelligence reports GlobalPost has viewed, links Thaci and other former KLA commanders to a broad array of organized crimes.

Another NATO intelligence report, written in November 2000, claims that a close associate of Thaci is involved in sex trafficking: “Prostitution: arrival of women mostly from Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Slovakia is under [the man's family's] indirect control and it receives profit.”

A third intelligence report, which is dated March 10, 2004, and is marked “SECRET Rel USA KFOR and NATO” and was confirmed by a Western diplomat as being viewed by U.S. government officials, describes one of Thaci's close associates — former KLA commander Xhavit Haliti — as believed to be “highly involved in prostitution,” among other alleged crimes, including murder.

“We just controlled the main border crossings while petrol, drugs and trafficked women continued to be poured in both through official and illegal entries,” the former NATO intelligence officer said. “We lacked resources and permission from higher authorities to act since the number one priority was peace and stability and they wouldn't allow anything to disrupt that.”

The official added: “A lot of trafficked women entered Kosovo without any hurdle. The people behind the brothels and sexual slavery were all with the government, KPC [the Kosovo Protection Corps], the PDK and the AAK. No one outside these structures had even a remote chance to run it on such a large scale.”

In spite of the longstanding allegations against Thaci, which American officials have known about for years (the NATO and other intelligence reports have been in wide circulation among American and European diplomats for years, sources tell GlobalPost, and two are even on the internet for all to see), Thaci has received strong support from the United States. He visited Vice President Joseph Biden at the White House in July and has hosted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Kosovo.

The "FedEx" of trafficking women

Describing himself as “the Balkan version of DHL and FedEx” for trafficked women and illicit goods, the second Albanian trafficker, who gave his name as Gjon, said he had worked for and with Kosovar organized crime groups headed by former senior KLA commanders.

During the 1999 war, in which the KLA was based in Albania, its intelligence service, SHIK, was involved in sex-trafficking, Gjon said. “Groups [of trafficked women] were arriving in Durres and Fushe Kruja [in Albania], that were almost exclusively for the KLA, who were there during and after the war,” Gjon said. “SHIK escorted them. After a while some of them were shipped to Italy while others [were sent] to Kosovo. I've been to parties where they had to serve you all the way.”

Rexhep said he was a former proud KLA fighter and is now a successful businessman with legal and illegal businesses in Kosovo and other countries. In spite of his pride in fighting with the KLA during the war he acknowledged that SHIK and former KLA officials were involved in the sex-trafficking trade.

“Is the KLA involved? Are you kidding me? It's all KLA or those who contributed [to the war] somehow,” he said. “All the big money flows are directly controlled by SHIK and without their blessing you better not start anything if you mean well to yourself and your family.”

GlobalPost made repeated attempts to interview the American ambassador to Kosovo, Christopher Dell, about U.S. relations with senior former KLA figures and allegations of criminality, but he declined to accept interview requests or respond to written questions. State Department officials also declined to respond to questions or be interviewed. Thaci also declined repeated requests for an interview.

Catering to the expat community

The three men involved in trafficking gave GlobalPost a rare look inside the criminal side of a trade that caters to Kosovar men and NATO troops and other international officials who have been in Kosovo in large numbers since 1999. All three men said that NATO troops, U.N. officials and other internationals working in Kosovo made up a significant proportion of the clientele for trafficked women, something repeatedly confirmed by anti-trafficking organizations. The former U.N. administration in Kosovo, UNMIK, regularly published an “Off-Limits List” of brothels, hotels, bars, clubs and other locations where staff were ordered to “STAY OUT” of. The 2008 spreadsheet lists 109 establishments and states: “By frequenting bars, brothels, strip clubs and night clubs, international representatives and by default their organizations are condoning and supporting the sexual exploitation and slavery of women and contributing to the profits of organized crime.”

Prostitution “is a state-sanctioned business with tacit approval of foreigners and for their enjoyment,” Rexhep said.

In recent years, the U.N., NATO, EULEX and the Kosovo police have improved their anti-trafficking efforts, according to trafficking experts and the State Department. But the demand from foreigners, and locals, remains strong, the three traffickers say.

Recruitment tactics

To meet that demand, the three men and their colleagues in the organized crime world looked beyond Kosovo's borders.

“We were mostly bringing girls from Moldova, Ukraine and Russia,” said Luan, 30, who started his criminal career as a thief in Germany and Switzerland before he became a trafficker. “But sometimes we also had girls from Serbia, Romania, Czech Republic.

“In each place there's a man who's specialized in finding and recruiting,” he continued. “They are either girls from rural places looking for a job abroad or waitresses or those who work in some kind of administration but are poorly paid. They would take them to cafes or pubs, seduce them or give them some dope for free, mostly hashish or marijuana and later something heavier. After gaining their trust or becoming lovers or just making them dependant on drugs they would offer them ‘good and well-paid jobs abroad' and free drugs as well. Then I would go to pick them up, usually in Bulgaria, sometimes Serbia, Romania other places.

“For each girl I would pay 2,000 to 3,000 euros. I was mostly taking groups of three girls. They crossed the borders together like any other passengers and I was discreetly accompanying them while pretending I was travelling alone. Sometimes they would be sent to cross the border illegally, if they had problems with documents or because they were underage. That's more difficult because they have to walk through the forests. I would usually wait for them on the other side. They had no idea what was going to happen to them once they were firmly in our hands.”

Once in Kosovo, the nightmare would begin for the foreign girls and women.

“We would take them to a town hall to register them for temporary residence from three to six months,” Luan said. “It depends on what deal we make with municipal authorities and if the girls are really good-looking they stay six months. Clients don't like to [have sex with] the same women too many times so there's a regular rotation. When we get them registered for temporary residence we take away their passports and send them to their respective places. Most of them work as waitresses, dancers or strippers till midnight or 2 a.m. After that they have to do the other part whether they like it or not.”

When asked what happened to the women if they refused to have sex with the clients, Luan said: “There's no ‘no' as an answer here. They know that disobedience is really bad for them so their unwillingness is never a matter of discussion. There is no chance to refuse. We usually tried to be nice to them and give them drugs like heroin to calm them down and relax them. Well, those who become addicts can't say no to 'guests' if they want their drugs.”

Luan said the men who had bought the girls and women often beat them or burned them with lit cigarettes as a form of punishment and intimidation. Rexhep confirmed the violence that some of the women are subjected to. “Girls are generally treated well but sometimes they cause trouble or want to go home before the agreed time so they have to be disciplined,” he said.

Shame and rationalizations

For thuggish men involved in modern-day slavery, Luan and Gjon are nevertheless aware of the moral challenges of their trade. Gjon, who also works frequently in Bulgaria and, like Luan, transports girls and women into Kosovo, insisted he did not enslave women. “I never ever kept a girl against her own will,” he said. He claimed he acted as their protector. “I look after the girls that I ship. No one is allowed to do them any harm or rape them.”

But Gjon's sense of right and wrong can become suspended by his need to make a profit. “You have to understand, when I take a package and ship it over I am responsible for the damage or loss,” he said. “If she changes her mind and wants to go back I say ‘no problem', here's your passport and you are free to go, but I don't intend to pay the loss from my own pocket. If she can pay her way out, or her family [can], no problem, she is free to go. Otherwise, she has to stay and obey and her passport is with me until another takes her over. It's not I who enslave them. I am only doing shipping.”

Gjon may live in the comfort of self-justification but Luan seems genuinely ashamed of what he did.

“I wish I could rewind the tape of my life and erase that film of the past,” he said. “I was selling lives for money. That's worse than selling drugs.”

When he spoke about his feelings he lowered his head and looked away.

“Some girls get a cut of the fee paid by clients, some don't get anything,” he said. “It all depends on their owners. After they serve in Kosovo they are sent elsewhere because clients get tired of them and they want new flesh … . Some of them are only 16 years old.”

Five years ago Luan was arrested in Bulgaria and convicted of trafficking. Prison in Bulgaria was brutal, he said. He was released after four years. “Only depraved people feel no remorse for what they are doing,” he said. “That's why I am not in this anymore. I feel terribly, terribly sorry for what I did.”

For now, Luan is trying to find a way to make a living in a country whose citizens have the lowest per capita annual income — $2,500 — of any country in Europe.

“I earned a lot of money,” he said, “and I spent most of it but I will find other ways to live.”

Rexhep, like Luan, has done time in Bulgarian prisons, as well as in Germany and Turkey, where he implied he was raped by other prisoners. And although he continues to traffic girls and women into Kosovo to be sex slaves, he insists he never hurts them, never gives them drugs and despises customers who abuse the women. He can, he says, empathize with them. “I was so [messed] up in Bulgaria and Turkey,” he said, “so I know what it is like to be alone and helpless.”


Dr. Barry Cook
  Montgomery church employee arrested for sexual torture and child abuse

by JoBeth Davis, Community Web Producer

March 25, 2011

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A former Montgomery church employee and author has been arrested on accusations of child abuse and sexual torture.

Dr. Barry Cook, 47 of Montgomery, was arrested Thursday on charges of Sexual Torture and Aggravated Child Abuse. He also has an outstanding warrant for Domestic Violence in the Third Degree.

Cook is listed as a leadership teacher and member of the Pastoral Staff at the Christian Life Church on Monticello Drive in Montgomery. On the church's website, Cook is listed as teaching the "Ordinary People, Extraordinary Power: God Still Speaks" class on Sunday mornings.

According to Montgomery Child Protect spokesperson, Jannah Bailey, Cook was fired from the church earlier this week.

Due to the fact that the victim in this case is a minor, not many details are available for release.

Bailey did say the the victim is a 12-year-old boy who recently moved to this area with his family.

This is the very same Barry Cook who founded Ambassador Family Church in Oceanside, California back in 1995 with his then wife, Terri. AFC was foreclosed on back in 2008 after the church could no longer afford to pay its mortgage when patrons started leaving the church.

The circumstances surrounding the demise of that church are outlined in an article that appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune back in May 2008. A 2005 paternity scandal between an AFC minister and his wife rocked the core values of the church.

Carolyn Limon, at that time a church office worker, filed for divorce from her husband, Vincent Limon, a former assistant minister at AFC. According to court records, a paternity test revealed that Limon was not the father of the couple's young child.The alleged father - Barry Cook.

The rumors around Cook's involvement continued to strengthen when Cook and his wife Terri separated the next year. Although the Cooks' divorce record does not cite misconduct, according to the Union-Tribune, church members apparently voted with their feet, leaving the congregation in droves. An estimated 600 out of 800 worshipers took their devotions elsewhere.

Church leaders asked Cook to take a paternity test to address the rumors, he was unresponsive.

One former church member, Susanne Guinn, took to the internet to blog what she knew of the situation. Guinn blames Cook for the downfall of the Ambassador Family Church.

“The church is in foreclosure because of Pastor Cook's refusal to admit what he did, that he did wrong, and to ask forgiveness from the church,” said Guinn, who left in 2004.

In an interview with the Union-Tribune, Cook repeatedly denied the claims. “They're unsubstantiated and vacuous,” he said. He said he was never directly asked to take a paternity test.

According to Cook, people left for other reasons: stress created by the construction battles and delays, differences with his ministry style and his withdrawal after his marriage failed and foreclosure loomed.

“I went through a long period when I was in a cave, so to speak, in my soul,” Cook said. “When I stopped speaking, all kinds of other people started.”

By December 2007, the loss of so many members hit home. The church fell behind on its loan payments and was foreclosed on and was bought by another group in February 2008.

Three years later the same man, Dr. Barry Cook, author of the book The Grace Factor, former religious leader and teacher in Montgomery faces a steep list of charges - Sexual Torture, Aggravated Child Abuse and Domestic Violence.

Cook was placed in the Montgomery County Detention Facility. The warrant for Domestic Violence will be served upon his release from the facility.


Michael Clare, Bronx pastor charged with raping, impregnating 12-year-old girl, rejects plea deal


Monday, March 21, 2011

A Bronx pastor charged with raping a 12-year-old girl from his flock turned down a "sweetheart" plea deal that came with three years in prison.

Michael Clare, 38, refused the offer from prosecutors, despite "almost irrefutable proof" he impregnated the child, said Bronx Supreme Court Justice Megan Tallmer.

"He wasn't interested," Tallmer said in court Monday.

Clare's lawyer, Paul Brenner, asked the judge to consider probation instead of prison.

"I would never do that," she snapped, citing a DNA match between Clare and the victim's aborted fetus.

Clare - the married leader of the Harvest Worship Center and principal of the associated Harvest Prep school, declined comment outside court.

Authorities learned of the alleged crimes in June, when the girl, who now 15, told her parents and police that Clare had sexually preyed on her for three years.


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