APRIL - Week 3
||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.
YouTube videos on the sex trade
Here are a few short videos on child prostitution. Of course, there are many more on YouTube.
What About American Girls Sold on the Streets?
by NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
When we hear about human trafficking in India or Cambodia, our hearts melt. The victim has sometimes been kidnapped and imprisoned, even caged, in a way that conjures our images of slavery.
But in the United States we see girls all the time who have been trafficked — and our hearts harden. The problem is that these girls aren't locked in cages. Rather, they're often runaways out on the street wearing short skirts or busting out of low-cut tops, and many Americans perceive them not as trafficking victims but as miscreants who have chosen their way of life. So even when they're 14 years old, we often arrest and prosecute them — even as the trafficker goes free.
In fact, human trafficking is more similar in America and Cambodia than we would like to admit. Teenage girls on American streets may appear to be selling sex voluntarily, but they're often utterly controlled by violent pimps who take every penny they earn.
From johns to judges, Americans often suffer from a profound misunderstanding of how teenage prostitution actually works — and fail to appreciate that it's one of our country's biggest human rights problems. Fortunately, a terrific new book called “Girls Like Us,” by Rachel Lloyd, herself a trafficking survivor, illuminates the complexities of the sex industry.
Lloyd is British and the product of a troubled home. As a teenager, she dropped out of school and ended up working as a stripper and prostitute, controlled by a pimp whom she loved in a very complicated way — even though he beat her.
One of the most vexing questions people have is why teenage girls don't run away more often from pimps who assault them and extract all the money they earn. Lloyd struggles to answer that question about her own past and about the girls she works with today. The answers have to do with lack of self-esteem and lack of alternatives, as well as terror of the pimp and a misplaced love for him.
Jocular references to pimps in popular songs or movies are baffling. They aren't business partners of teenage girls; they are modern slave drivers. And pimping attracts criminals because it is lucrative and not particularly risky as criminal behavior goes: police arrest the girls, but don't often go after the pimps. (In fairness, pimping is a tough crime to prove, partly because the star witness is often a girl with a string of prostitution arrests who leaves a poor impression on a jury.)
Eventually, Lloyd did escape her pimp after he nearly killed her, but starting over was tough, and she had trouble fitting in. When she showed up at church in a skirt she liked, four women separately came over to her pew with clothing to cover her legs.
“Apparently skirts need to be longer than your jacket,” she recalls. “Who knew?”
Then Lloyd came to the United States to begin working with troubled teenage girls — and found her calling. In 1998, at the age of 23, she founded GEMS, short for Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, a program for trafficked girls that has won human rights awards and helped pass a landmark anti-trafficking law in New York State. On the side, Lloyd earned a college degree and then a master's, graduating summa cum laude.
Lloyd's story is extraordinarily inspiring, as is the work she is doing. One of the girls she rescued from a pimp later graduated from high school as valedictorian. But Lloyd's memoir is also important for the window it offers into trafficking in this country.
Americans often think that “trafficking” is about Mexican or Korean or Russian women smuggled into brothels in the United States. That happens. But in my years and years of reporting, I've found that the biggest trafficking problem involves homegrown American runaways.
Typically, she's a 13-year-old girl of color from a troubled home who is on bad terms with her mother. Then her mom's boyfriend hits on her, and she runs away to the bus station, where the only person on the lookout for girls like her is a pimp. He buys her dinner, gives her a place to stay and next thing she knows she's earning him $1,500 a day.
Lloyd guides us through this world in an unsentimental way that rings pitch perfect with my own reporting. Above all, Lloyd always underscores that these girls aren't criminals but victims, and she alternately oozes compassion and outrage. One girl she worked with was Nicolette, a 12-year-old in New York City who had a broken rib and burns from a hot iron, presumably from her pimp. Yet Nicolette was convicted of prostitution and sent to a juvenile detention center for a year to learn “moral principles.”
Our system has failed girls like her. The police and prosecutors should focus less on punishing 12-year-old girls and more on their pimps — and, yes, their johns. I hope that Lloyd's important and compelling book will be a reminder that homegrown American girls are also trafficked, and they deserve sympathy and social services — not handcuffs and juvenile detention.
Amber Alert Issued For 1-Month-Old Akron Boy
Credit: Akron Police Suspect: Damarick C. Lewis
By Donna Willis
CENTRAL OHIO -- A regional Amber Alert has been issued for a 1-month-old infant who was abducted by his 19-year-old father, police say.
One-month-old Demarick C. Lewis is missing.
Authorities said his father, Damarick C. Lewis, 19, took the infant during a domestic violence incident with the child's mother.
The infant's father dropped him twice while trying to leave their Margaret Street home in Akron.
Demarick is a black male who is 1 foot tall and weighs about 10 pounds. His eye and hair color are not known.
Damarick, the father, is a 19-year-old black male who has black hair and brown eyes. He is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs about 150 pounds.
He had on a black hooded sweatshirt and black shorts.
No vehicle information was released.
Authorities also did not release any photos of the child.
Call Akron police at 330-375-2181 , 877-AMBER-OH ( 877-262-3764 ) or dial 911 if you see the child or the suspect.
The alert is active for East Central Ohio: Carroll, Coshocton, Guernsey, Holmes, Portage, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas, and Wayne counties.
New law vs. trafficking CRIME: The child sex trade thrives in our area, but that might soon change
by STACIA GLENN
April 24, 2011
The ugly world of child sex trafficking is thriving in the Puget Sound region.
Girls as young as 11 are being prostituted at the hands of men who promised to take care of them. Gangs are switching from selling drugs to selling sex to support their enterprises.
For the last three years, the Everett-Seattle-Tacoma area has led the country in the number of juveniles recovered during the FBI's Operation Cross Country sting, which targets child sex exploitation.
Of 69 girls rescued nationwide last year, 23 were found in the Puget Sound area. Nine of the 99 pimps taken into custody during the annual sweep were local.
Numbers for Pierce County are hard to come by, but officials say there are 300 to 500 prostituted young girls in King County.
“It's very troublesome,” said Lakewood police detective Ryan Larson, who works on Innocence Lost, a federal task force focused on saving victims and taking pimps and johns off the streets. “There are more cases than we can work.”
As common as human trafficking may be, there has been only one conviction in the state since the practice was outlawed in 2003. Washington was the first state to pass a law criminalizing human trafficking.
Federal and state officials attribute the lack of convictions to ambiguous legal terms in the statute.
Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law Monday a bill expanding the criminal definition of human trafficking to add forced labor, involuntary servitude, commercial sexual abuse of a minor and criminal sex acts.
“I think this will make it a much more practical statute that police and prosecutors will use,” said King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Sean O'Donnell, who handled the state's only human trafficking conviction case in 2009 and helped write the legislation.
“The human trafficking statute was too esoteric,” he said. “People were scratching their heads wondering what it meant.”
O'Donnell and Matthew Thomas, an assistant United States attorney, spoke to the Soroptimist International of Tacoma club Tuesday about the challenges and importance of prosecuting human trafficking cases.
“We're hoping by prosecuting pimps with minors, word will get around town” that punishments are strict, Thomas said, adding that he just finished a case in which a pimp was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Shared Hope International, a Vancouver, Wash.-based advocacy group, recently began reviewing state laws related to child sex trafficking and issuing grades under its Protected Innocence Initiative.
Washington received a “C” in January because of its confusing definition of human trafficking, a lack of “protective provisions” for the victims and not enough tools for law enforcement officers to build cases.
Attorney General Rob McKenna said the grade was not satisfactory and pledged to do better.
Shared Hope spokesman Loren Wohlgemuth Jr. said state officials have made inroads, but law enforcement officers need investigative resources such as wire tapping and access to cellphone records to build cases against suspected pimps.
He also said victims need financial restitution, shelter, counseling and medical care and deserve to have their records expunged.
“Let's remove the stigma that these girls are criminals,” Wohlgemuth said. “They're victims.”
Police said it's in the girls' best interest to be arrested for prostituting because it temporarily takes them off the streets and gives officials a chance to offer resources.
Most victims have been manipulated and trained on what to say if caught, and because Washington has no secure shelters to house the victims, officials can't get girls the services they need unless they cooperate.
“Sometimes we arrest a girl three to five times before we finally get through to her,” said Larson, the Lakewood police detective. “We need secure housing for these girls.”
The Innocence Lost Task Force has plenty to keep them busy. The seven-member team finds most of its cases online but still sees young girls walking the streets.
In the last three years, Larson has built cases against seven pimps just in Lakewood who were each controlling one to five girls, not including grown women.
His focus recently has been on arresting johns, or customers.
In the last month, Larson has arrested two men accused of paying for sex with pre-adolescent girls. A third man fled the country before police could arrest him.
Because the human trafficking statute was undefined, prosecutors typically brought charges of promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor. The penalties are the same.
A first-time offender pimping a young girl faces 93 to 123 months in prison. A first-time offender pimping an adult faces 21 to 27 months in prison.
Now, in light of the new bill, prosecutors hope to charge them with human trafficking.
“When you sell someone's body, you are trafficking in people,” O'Donnell said. “Don't mince words about it.”
By the numbers
• 100,000 to 300,000 adolescents are sold for sex each year in the United States.
• The average price tag for an underage girl sold on the streets is $400 per hour.
• Children are sold an estimated 10 to 15 times a day.
Source: Shared Hope International and the Washington Attorney General's Office
Coroner develops human remains database that helps bring closure to families sooner
by Susan Lazaruk, The Province
April 24, 2011
Until a hiker came across the human body in a wooded area of Prince George recently, the young male had likely lain there for several weeks.
The remains had mummified, the man's wallet was empty, he carried no id and his name had been torn off a recent hotel receipt. He carried a backpack with the logo of a Calgary radio station, had a T-shirt advertising a play by a Buffalo community theatre group and had a small Coptic Christian cross with him.
The man, whom police believe did not meet with foul play, was wearing blue jeans, size 10 shoes, a brown long-sleeved shirt with a Corona beer logo, black hoodie, blue-tinted wraparound sunglasses and a red-and-white ski jacket.
He also carried a Prince George transit map and bus timetable, leading police to believe he may have been visiting the area. The clues didn't offer much and police turned to the coroner for help.
“It's almost as if he didn't want to be identified,” said Stephen Fonseca, head of the coroner's identification and disaster response unit, which is responsible for trying to match missing persons to unidentified remains in B.C.
He drew a likeness of the man based on facial reconstruction and pegged his height at between five-six and five-10, with a slim build, his age at 20 to 30 years old. The man is thought to be of northeastern African decent, possibly Somalian, Eritrean or Ethiopian.
Fonseca plugged the details into a program he developed that profiles missing persons much in the same way that homicide detectives profile serial killers.
He was able to reasonably match his profile to a Somalian family that had reported a family member missing.
Fonseca was certain they'd found their man.”
“Even the photo was similar” to his facial reconstruction.
But after tracking the family to Ontario in a process that took three months, Fonseca discovered that missing man had returned home on his own.
He and Prince George police are appealing to the public for help in identifying the man, whose body was discovered in November.
He has been added to the approximate 200 cases the coroner has in its file of unidentified human remains in B.C., a list that grows by three to five people each year.
Some of the files go back to the 1960s, with relatives still hoping one day they'll get the call they're always waiting for: news about their loved one.
“It's a heavy responsibility to carry when they expect you to find the connection between the unidentified remains and their loved ones,” said Fonseca. “We get queries from the public every day.”
He said that's what drives him and the team of people in his department who work on cold cases.
“It's a tremendous feeling of relief for me when I make an identification,” he said.
He recalled one case where the family hadn't reported the man missing.
He was a homeless bottle and can collector whose skeletal remains were discovered in East Vancouver. The coroner's office was checking expiry dates on the cans in his possession to try to narrow down the time of his death when Fonseca discovered some signed paintings among his effects. His name turned up in police files for petty crime and the coroner's office eventually tracked his brothers down in Germany and the DNA matched.
And just last year, the office was able to close a file of a person reported missing in 1959 after he drove his car into Lake Okanagan and was presumed drowned.
“He drove off a floating bridge while he was rushing to pick up some medicine,” said Fonseca. “It was a very tragic story.”
Fonseca said that using the computer model and DNA from the man's children — technology that wasn't available when the man went missing — the coroner was able to match human remains found in 1987 to the missing man and close the case for his family.
“This job becomes an obsession,” said Fonseca. “I keep pushing and I don't let up. I have to be able to show the family what I did to try to find their relative.”
The computerized program, which Fonseca says is the first of its kind in Canada, is helping the coroner's office to become more efficient as more information is added to it, including the GPS co-ordinates of all human remains found.
He said the coroner's office was able to identify the owner of one of the severed feet, foot No. 7, that washed ashore in B.C., by plugging in the information about where the foot likely came from and comparing it to missing persons already entered into the database.
“We're very proud of it,” he said. “We know it's making identifications more efficient. Police are getting excited about it, too.”
He said there is interest from other jurisdictions and said it's possible there could be a national application in future.
And the coroner's office has also posted a searchable list of the profiles of unidentified human remains in B.C., which is accessible on missing-u.ca .
Winnipeg Free Press ...Prayer breakfast hears horror of sexual slavery in Cambodia
by Melissa Martin
IT was the eyes he couldn't forget, the piercing stares of seven Cambodian girls sold into sexual slavery, their abuse caught on tape by a Canadian pedophile.
So harrowing were the videotaped gazes that, after helping bust convicted sex tourist Donald Bakker in 2004, forensic expert Brian McConaghy left the RCMP and threw himself behind a singular cause: to help save as many children as possible from the nightmare of sex trafficking.
And to fight against an estimated $43-billion global scourge, McConaghy told around 800 religious, First Nations, government and community leaders at the Manitoba Prayer Breakfast on Saturday, takes faith.
"(Faith) is central to it," said McConaghy, who works with Ratanak International, which operates a safe-house for 59 children rescued from Cambodian trafficking rings. "It is the driving force. Trying to take on a battle like this, and do this on your own strength, is lunacy."
As the keynote speaker at the non-denominational Saturday morning event, which included VIPs such as Winnipeg police chief Keith McCaskill (who read from Bible scripture) and Winnipeg Catholic Archbishop James Weisgerber, McConaghy didn't shy from the ugly truths about sex trafficking in his tough, often tender speech.
McConaghy detailed the cycle of slavery, driven by teen pimps who were themselves sold into slavery as children.
"Twelve is old in Cambodia," he said, as a tense murmur rippled through the audience.
"In Cambodia, they start at age six."
That was the blunt tone that the prayer breakfast's honorary chairwoman, Kildonan-St. Paul MP Joy Smith, was hoping for when she asked McConaghy to deliver the keynote at this year's breakfast. "Now that you know, you can't say you don't know. Now we have to do something about it," said Smith, who championed a 2008 bill that raised the minimum sentence for criminals convicted of trafficking children.
Indeed, after Archbishop Weisgerber offered the breakfast's closing prayer at 9:30 a.m., MLA Bill Blaikie called McConaghy's speech a "call to arms."
After the breakfast, Manitoba Grand Chief Ron Evans stood with Smith and McConaghy to call for more awareness about how sex trafficking has impacted the aboriginal community.
The sex trade is linked to the fate of many of Canada's almost 600 missing or murdered aboriginal women. As an RCMP officer, McConaghy helped close the net on Robert Pickton, many of whose victims were aboriginal.
"The more people talk about it, the more people know about it," Evans said. "We will be more conscious of our surroundings. We will start to see the signs. And we will report."
Remember those eyes, the eyes of the seven girls that haunted him right out of his RCMP career and into a life of healing?
McConaghy still sees them. He last saw them two weeks ago when he took Bakker's seven victims -- now thriving teenagers in Ratanak's programs -- out to lunch in Phnom Penh. "I have things to learn about faith from these children," McConaghy said, before the crowd bowed their heads in prayer.
Sex trafficking in the U.S. called ‘epidemic'
Victims say escaping nearly impossible
by Chuck Neubauer
When she first showed up at Children of the Night, a privately-funded residential facility, Jane was angry. Arrested more than 20 times as a prostitute, she had been hardened by the street. She threw things at her counselors. Everyone was terrified in having to deal with her.
"She was just afraid. She was use to being treated so rough," said Lois Lee, the Los Angeles group's founder and president. "She didn't know what to do with someone nice."
Jane, not her real name, was just 14 when her life was hijacked in Seattle by a 36-year-old man who said he loved her and promised to give her a better life. It was an easy sell: The product of a troubled home, she was sexually molested by her father's roommate -- the abuse beginning when she was 4. She also was molested at the daycare center where she was taken every day.
"My mom was a junkie," Jane, now 17, said in a recent interview. "I lived with my dad. He was up and down with his moods. He had a marijuana addiction -- I can't remember much of my childhood. I block it out."
Jane said the molestation made her shy and when she finally told someone about it -- her aunt -- her father turned away from her. "I needed his support, but he started to shut down," she said. "I figured he didn't care anymore (about me) and so I didn't care anymore. I just started staying away from my house."
She ended up with a family friend, a woman who forced her to work as a prostitute and sell drugs. That's when she met James Jackson, the man she called Jay, who convinced her to go with him to Portland, Ore. He promised to show her a better life, but moments after they arrived, Jackson told her she had to "sell her ass," court records show. When she objected, he choked and punched her,
stopping only when she agreed to be a prostitute.
Jane is not the only young girl to fall victim to someone she trusted, but no one really knows how many others there are.
Sex trafficking is so widespread, said Nathan Wilson, founder of the Project Meridian Foundation in Arlington, which helps police identify traffickers and their victims, that "no country, no race, no religion, no class and no child is immune." He said 1.6 million children under 18 -- native and foreign born -- have been caught up in this country's sex trade. But, he said, the actual number of victims is hard to quantify because of the lengths to which traffickers go to keep their crimes hidden.
Most experts say the number of children sexually exploited in the U.S. or at risk of being exploited is between 100,000 and 300,000.
"We know it is a really large number," said Anne Milgram, a former high-ranking federal prosecutor who tried and oversaw sex trafficking cases. "We know there are a lot of children being victimized. We just can't tell you what number."
Rachel Lloyd said she has seen a "never-ending stream" of abused girls since she founded Girls Educational and Mentoring Services' (GEMS) in New York City in 1997, which helps girls and women ages 12 to 24 victimized by sex traffickers.
"We don't know the number, but we know it is happening. I am working with 300 girls now," she said, adding that most came from troubled homes where there was either sexual or physical abuse. "For every single woman I have met that was exploited, you could tell why they ran away and why they were easy prey for a pimp. The pimp becomes their strongest connection in life."
Ms. Lloyd speaks from experience: Sexually abused as a child in England, she ended up in Germany and at 17 was working in a strip club where she met an American she thought loved her but who "pimped me out." She said he beat her to keep her working and when she finally escaped, she was "broken emotionally and physically" before putting her life back together.
The Washington, D.C.-based Polaris Project, which advocates stronger trafficking laws and provides help to victims, has said trafficking for sex and forced labor generates billions of dollars in profits by victimizing millions of people globally. It said the average age of entry into the sex trafficking industry in the U.S. is between 12 to 14 years old.
With an estimated annual revenue of $32 billion, or about $87 million a day, law enforcement authorities, government agencies and others say human trafficking is tied with arms dealing as the world's second-largest criminal enterprise, behind only drugs. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the lead agency in trafficking investigations, has estimated that 800,000 people are trafficked into sex and forced-labor situations throughout the world every year.
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein in Maryland said the sex trafficking of minors is a top priority of his office, but bringing offenders to justice has become more difficult in recent years. He said the traffickers' use of the Internet has made it harder to locate their victims, meaning that many of the girls and young women are no longer on the street or at truck stops where law enforcement can see them.
Mr. Rosenstein helped create the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force in 2007, which -- working with state, federal and local law enforcement authorities, along with private agencies -- seeks to rescue trafficking victims and prosecute offenders.
Since its creation, the task force has sent many traffickers to prison, including Lloyd Mack Royal, III, 29, of Gaithersburg, who received a 37-year sentence in July 2010 for using what prosecutors said was "physical violence, drugs, guns and lies" to force three girls under 18 into prostitution. A federal judge also ordered that after his release, Royal must register as a sex offender.
'His pinky ring'
According to court records, Royal forced the girls to engage in sex; threatened to harm them and their families; hit the girls and held one of them at gunpoint; gave them cocaine, PCP, marijuana and alcohol before forcing them to have sex with customers; and, to assert his authority, forced them to "kiss his pinky ring." The records show he drove the girls to hotels in Gaithersburg and Washington, D.C., to engage in sex.
Royal also gave the girls drugs before forcing them to engage in sex with him to test their "sexual aptitude," according to the records.
Just last month, Derwin S. Smith, 42 of Glen Burnie, pleaded guilty in a task-force case to transporting a 12-year-old D.C. girl to Atlantic City, N.J., to work as a prostitute. She was rescued by the task force after she had called a relative.
Maryland task force members Amanda Walker-Rodriguez and Rodney Hill, Baltimore County prosecutors, said in an FBI law enforcement bulletin in March that 300,000 American children are at risk of becoming victims of sex traffickers. They said the children often are forced to travel far from home, and their lives revolve around "violence, forced drug use and constant threats." They called sex trafficking in the U.S. a "problem of epidemic proportion."
"These women and young girls are sold to traffickers, locked up in rooms or brothels for weeks or months, drugged, terrorized and raped repeatedly," they said. "The captives are so afraid and intimidated that they rarely speak out against their traffickers, even when faced with an opportunity to escape."
For many law enforcement officers, the crime can be deeply personal.
"When I heard what happened, I cried," said Sgt. Chris Burchell, a 28-year veteran of the Bexar County, Texas, Sheriff's office when he learned a 13-year-old girl had been kidnapped, raped and forced to work as a prostitute in a San Antonio crackhouse. He has since founded a nonprofit group called Texas Anti-Trafficking in Persons, which builds rapid response coalitions across the state.
In the San Antonio case, Juan Moreno, 45, was convicted in December and sentenced to four life terms. Prosecutors said he charged crack customers $25 to rape the teenage girl, who had come into
the house with a friend looking for drugs and was then held for more than a week.
"He threatened to kill her," said Kirsta Melton, an assistant Bexar County district attorney who prosecuted the case. "She was literally tied to the bed. ... A guy from the neighborhood recognized her and rescued her." She said the neighbor had refused an offer of sex and "figured out a way to get her out.
"It never occurred to me how many child sex trafficking cases there were," said Ms. Melton, now in charge of such prosecutions for the county.
Ms. Milgram, the former New Jersey attorney general, also knows firsthand about prosecuting trafficking cases. She tried two of the Justice Department's biggest international sex trafficking cases and one of the first ever under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. In that case, two sisters went to prison for 17 years for forcing Mexican girls, some as young as 14, into prostitution. Later, she became the lead prosecutor for sex trafficking cases.
Now teaching a course in human trafficking law at New York University, Ms. Milgram thinks prosecutors need to bring more cases, saying the 243 her Justice Department office brought between 2000 and 2009 were "a great start but not enough." She also said local prosecutors were not getting the job done, adding that while New York City advocacy groups have identified hundreds of sex trafficking victims, New York police have made only a small number of arrests.
"We have to do better," she said.
The issue of sex trafficking has attracted the attention of several elected officials. Earlier this month, Oregon passed a bill establishing harsher penalties for sex trafficking, as did Texas. Maryland passed three anti-trafficking bills this month to pay for training in schools, give law enforcement additional surveillance and wiretapping tools, and to remove prostitution convictions from sex trafficking victims' records.
Similar laws have passed this month in Minnesota, Nevada, Missouri, Tennessee, New York and Michigan.
State Sen. Renee Unterman, a Republican from Gwinnett County outside Atlanta, has been pushing for years to strengthen Georgia's sex trafficking laws. She said it has been "very very tough" to get men to talk about the issue, but added that people are starting to understand that the girls should not be treated as criminals but as victims. She said more services and facilities are needed to treat them, but it is "very costly to take care of these types of victims."
Georgia passed a bill last month that toughens penalties for people who traffic children for sex. The bill is awaiting the governor's signature.
'I was not human'
Jane's fall into the world of sex trafficking began in May 2008, just before her 15th birthday. Jackson, her pimp, had forced her to work as a prostitute in Portland and when she protested, he beat her.
"He made me believe I was not human and I was just for one thing -- to make money for him," she said, calling her life a nightmare and suffering bruises and scars from many beatings.
Asked why she didn't leave, she said, "I had no where to go. I didn't know anybody. Where was I to go? He threatened to kill me all the time."
On one occasion when he got mad because she had not made enough money, she said he pushed her down and punched her in the face, saying, "You are going to die tonight." She said she pleaded for her life, promising to do whatever he said: "Just don't kill me. I thought I was going to die."
Of that beating, the FBI later said, "She awoke to find Jackson holding a firearm at her head and swearing on his mother's life that he would kill her." The bureau also said that "several times a week," Jackson choked her, pulled her hair, pushed her and struck her with his hands, a belt and a coffee pot, and that he tried to bite off her finger.
"I trusted him, even after all this stuff. After he abused me, I still thought it was love -- I thought that this is how it was supposed to be. ... Most of our arguments were about money," she said, adding that she had sex with six men a day, sometimes eight or nine. "I was bringing him $600 a day, but he wanted more."
Jane got out of that life when she was arrested in October 2008 and an FBI agent asked her if she wanted to go to Children of the Night, where she now lives. She said it was the first time she was treated like a victim instead of a criminal. "I had the FBI on my side. I could actually tell they were trying to help me," she said.
She since has gotten her high school diploma, now attends college and is getting help at a place where, she said, "people actually care about me." But the memories persist: "It still effects me -- in a very, very scary way. I am scared when I walk out the door to walk to the bus to go to school. In class, I am scared to raise my hand. I am scared someone is going to hurt me. I am scared to sit in the front row because there are too many people behind me I can't see."
Jackson pleaded guilty in March. Sentencing is scheduled for June 3 in Portland, when he faces a minimum of 15 years in prison.
"Human slavery is alive and well -- as cases like this make all too clear," said U.S. Attorney Dwight C. Holton in Oregon in announcing the plea. "We have got to put an end to this violent trade in young women and girls."
Reconstructed faces of missing persons
April 22, 2011
HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) - Within the Virginia Medical Examiner's Office, there are more than 200 unidentified people. Using state-of-the-art technology, WAVY.com got a look at the reconstructed faces of three of those missing people found in Hampton Roads.
"People always talk about having skeletons in their closets. Well, I'm here to tell you, I have 220 skeletons in my closet, literally," said Dr. Leah Bush, Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia.
Bush is trying to identify three of those skeletons. Using what the FBI refers to as "facial approximations" software, investigators are able to reconstruct the faces of what was once nothing more than a bare skull producing life-like clay models from the skeletal remains of missing persons.
"They use some digital media to scan the skull. They make a reproduction of the skull with a plastic model. Then actually apply the clay to that model," said Bush.
One of the models is a facial approximation of a young man found more than six years ago in a wooded area of Accomack County.
"Just outside the town of Painter over on the Eastern Shore. This was a wooded area directly behind a labor camp. Typically this labor camp only is filled from April to about October," said Lt. Gerald Goga with the Accomack Sheriff's Office.
Using the latest DNA analysis technology, investigators can tell us more about the man than just how he looked.
"From the forensic evidence that's been determined, this individual appears to be 17 to 23 years of age and of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity," said Larry Hill with the Virginia Department of Health.
The second man's remains were found in August of 1996 at an abandoned cinder block factory on Randolph Street in Portsmouth.
"The remains are of an African American male between 17 to 23 years old," said Hill.
The third face was reconstructed from the remains of a woman found in April of 1992 in Newport News.
"And this individual was found April 7, 1992 adjacent to a warehouse at 231 Enterprise Drive," said Hill.
The woman is believed to have been between 35 and 50 years old at the time of her death.
The Medical Examiner's Office set up a number to call anyone has information that might identify the three missing persons. That number is (757) 683-8366 .
Santa Ana man accused of sexually abusing relative for 9 years
April 21, 2011
Orange County prosecutors Thursday charged a Santa Ana man with sexually abusing a female relative for nine years and getting her pregnant when she was 11 years old.
Authorities learned about the allegations against Mariano Antonio Castro, 56, when the relative began attending a new church and confided in the pastor, who encouraged her to go police. She came forward to Santa Ana Police Department detectives April 19.
Castro is accused of sexually assaulting the female relative on a regular basis from October 2000 to October 2008 in his Santa Ana home, beginning when she was 8 years old. He is also accused of impregnating her when she was 11 years old. She gave birth to a girl at age 12. She did not report him as the father.
Castro is charged with one felony count of continuous sexual abuse, one felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse, two felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14, and sentencing enhancement allegations for substantial sexual conduct with a child and inflicting great bodily injury. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
Castro faces a maximum sentence of 34 years to life in state prison. Santa Ana police are continuing to investigate, and anyone with additional information is asked to contact Supervising Dist. Atty. Investigator Lou Gutierrez at (714) 347-8794 .
Orange County authorities search for man who approached 10-year-old boy
April 21, 2011
Orange County sheriff's deputies are searching for a man who approached a 10-year-old boy walking to school.
About 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, a fourth-grader was walking to Del Obispo Elementary School in San Juan Capistrano when he was approached by a man in a late-model gray or silver Chevy pickup and told to get in the vehicle.
The boy did not report the incident until about 11 a.m. He described the man as a 50- to 60-year-old white male with short gray hair, a gray jacket and Levis, and a “big red nose.” He said the man pulled up next to him near Del Obispo and Avenida Pedregal and rolled down the window.
He said something the child did not understand. When the boy told the man he didn't comprehend what he was saying, the man said, “Get in the truck and I'll take you there.” The man pointed to the school. The child fled on foot.
Authorities said the pickup's California license plate begins with the letters Q and R and ends with either ME or MW. The man's vehicle also had a gray toolbox in the truck bed. Anyone with information is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff's Department at (714) 647-7000.
Amber Alert issued for girl 11, boy 7, last seen in Federal Heights
April 22, 2011
FEDERAL HEIGHTS, Colo. -- An Amber Alert was up Friday for two children who disappeared from a bus stop in the 9400 block of Elm Court in Federal Heights. They were last seen Thursday.
Federal Heights Police say it's possible the children, 11-year-old Celena Romero and 7-year-old Charlie Romero were taken by their mother, Tammy Rees-Romero and her boyfriend, Jacob Lake-Sahm.
Celena Romero is 5'1" and weighs 90 lbs, She has green eyes, blonde hair and was last seen wearing a black jacket and jeans.
Charlie Romero is 4'3" and weighs 50 lbs. He has blue eyes, blonde hair and was last seen wearing A Denver Broncos jacket with jeans.
The vehicle driven by the children's mother and boyfriend is described as a maroon 1997 Mercury Sedan with the license plate number 618-SZM
According to police, the children had extra clothing in back packs when they went to school Thursday.
Officers said they found .38 ammunition and moving boxes at the mother's home when attempting to locate the children.
Anyone with information is urged to contact authorities immediately.
Chief says sorry for not divulging Zina Amber Alert information
Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell apologized Thursday for not divulging four years ago that an Amber Alert regarding missing 12-year-old Zina Linnik was not issued sooner because his department spokesman fell back to sleep.
by ADAM LYNN
Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell apologized Thursday for not divulging four years ago that an Amber Alert regarding missing 12-year-old Zina Linnik was not issued sooner because his department spokesman fell back to sleep.
Instead, Ramsdell told reporters in 2007 the reason was continuing police work.
“If I was going to do it all over again, I would have told you,” Ramsdell told a reporter and editor from The News Tribune during a meeting at City Hall. “It's my responsibility.”
City Manager Eric Anderson and city spokesman Rob McNair-Huff also attended the meeting, which was called after The News Tribune sought interviews with Anderson and Ramsdell to discuss the chief's statements in the aftermath of the Linnik investigation.
Ramsdell said Thursday he knew within a day or two that Fulghum had fallen asleep instead of taking steps to see the alert was issued as requested by Sgt. Tom Davidson on July 5, 2007.
Davidson asked that the alert go out after the prime suspect at the time was cleared about six hours after Zina was abducted.
Instead of making public that Fulghum failed to immediately follow through with Davidson's request, Ramsdell and Fulghum told media outlets the department delayed issuing the alert so detectives could gather more information to use in it.
At a news conference July 13, 2007, Ramsdell told reporters in answer to a direct question about the Amber Alert delay that his department needed the extra time to clear up discrepancies about the description of a van seen leaving the alley behind Zina's home.
In November 2007, Ramsdell and Fulghum told two News Tribune reporters investigating the department's handling of the Amber Alert that it was delayed so detectives could gather more information.
“At that point, we probably could have gone, but we just wanted more,” Fulghum said during an interview at police headquarters.
Neither mentioned Fulghum's falling asleep. That also wasn't mentioned in the department's after-action report on the Zina investigation.
Records show the information ultimately included in the alert was no better than what Zina's sister told a 911 dispatcher shortly after Zina was abducted.
“I didn't want to lay the blame on one single person,” Ramsdell said Thursday. “This was a system failure.”
The chief said he also apologized to Anderson.
Fulghum's actions came to light in court documents recently filed in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the murdered girl's family. The News Tribune reported about it Wednesday.
Zina was abducted about 9:40 p.m. July 4 from behind her family's Hilltop home.
Davidson originally requested that an Amber Alert be put on hold while detectives tracked down a man he thought was the prime suspect.
He later called Fulghum about 4 a.m. July 5 to ask that the alert be sent out. Fulghum, who'd gone to bed about three hours earlier after taking an over-the-counter sleep aid, fell back to sleep before fulfilling the request.
He went to work later that morning and asked Pierce County officials to issue the alert, which officially notified the public that Zina had been abducted and provided information about her physical description and the van and driver seen leaving an alley behind her home.
The alert went out about 10 a.m. – nearly 12 hours after Terapon Adhahn snatched Zina. Adhahn later pleaded guilty to raping and killing the girl. He's serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Experts on child abductions say such alerts should go out within four hours of a child being kidnapped by a stranger. The department was criticized for not issuing the alert earlier than it did. It ultimately didn't matter for Zina. Adhahn later told investigators he killed the girl within 15 minutes of abducting her, according to court records.
Anderson on Thursday gave Ramsdell a vote of confidence and said he didn't consider the chief's statements to the news media regarding the Amber Alert to be lies.
“He didn't include all the information. It was a stressful time. Things can slip, and they will,” the city manager said. “Is this man a liar? No. Not by omission or commission.”
Both men also defended Fulghum, saying he'd already pulled what essentially was a double shift before going home and going to bed that morning. The Fourth of July is historically one of the busiest nights of the year for the department, and he also handled media inquiries when Zina went missing.
Fulghum feels awful about what happened, Ramsdell said.
“He's embarrassed. This has been hard for him. It's been hard for me. It's been hard for the entire Police Department,” the chief said. “Mark has a good heart.”
Anderson said it would have served little purpose to punish Fulghum for what appeared to be a system failure.
At the time, Fulghum, or someone substituting for him as department spokesman, was the only one authorized to request an Amber Alert. The Linnik case was the first time the department ever issued such an alert. Ramsdell said he later talked to Fulghum about his actions but did not discipline him. Instead, the chief said, he concentrated on fixing what he considered to be a deficient policy.
Now, anyone within the department with the rank sergeant or above can issue an alert.
“It's something that we've learned from,” Ramsdell said. “Hopefully, it won't happen again.”
Federal grand jury indicts KC man in a blackmail plot involving underage girl.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A federal grand jury has indicted a 34-year-old Kansas City man in a plot that they allege involved videotaping another man having sex with an underage girl.
Corey McKinney is charged in a five-count indictment. Prosecutors said the indictment replaces charges filed against McKinney earlier this month.
McKinney is now charged with two counts of producing child pornography, one count of child sex trafficking, one count of extortion and one count of blackmail.
McKinney's lawyer, Dan Ross, said McKinney denies the allegations and looks forward to a fair trial.
Prosecutors said McKinney's accused of trafficking a teenage victim in prostitution and using the teen to produce child pornography. He's also accused of trying to blackmail a man who had sex with the girl.
UGA Awards Euna Lee and Laura Ling
by Mary Kay Mitchelle
The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication has awarded its McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage to Euna Lee and Laura Ling. The women won the honor for not revealing their sources while imprisoned in North Korea.
North Korean soldiers arrested the journalists in March 2009 while they were researching human sex trafficking of North Korean women in China.
Lee and Ling returned to the U-S after five months in captivity. The women destroyed their notes, tapes and phones to protect their sources.
Because of that, Lee says they never finished the documentary for Current T-V.
“But I kept their individual stories alive in my book. That was my promise to my people, my sources who we interviewed, that I would keep informed people around the world, what's happening to them.”
Lee's book is called “The World is Bigger Now.” She says she feels responsible for telling the truth about controversial subjects. So she plans on continuing her career by studying journalism at Columbia University.
Phylicia Barnes, missing teen found murdered: Media double-standard
by Isabelle Zehnder
Missing Persons Examiner
April 22, 2011
BALTIMORE, Maryland (Isabelle Zehnder reporting) -- Concern was raised Thursday that all missing persons' cases are not being treated fairly by media with some getting intense media coverage while others receive barely any news coverage.
One example was Natalee Holloway's case, the Alabama teen who went missing in Aruba nearly seven years. Her case sparked a media frenzy while cases such as Phylicia's receive little media attention - therefore, a double standard.
Some say it has to do with how hard the families push, others say that's insensitive and puts pressure on families, leading them to feel they didn't do enough when their loved one went missing.
The problem is that most people don't know what to do when their loved ones go missing. They are in shock and are often not aware that missing person's organizations such as The CUE Center, Klaas Kids, and Bring Them Home exist to assist in being informed and getting the word out about their missing loved one. They aren't aware that volunteer search and rescue teams are ready, able, and willing to help. And they don't know how to go about getting the attention of media.
Elizabeth Smart's disappearance was used as an example of a case that received massive media coverage. I remember the case well, and how Elizabeth's father pushed for media coverage to the point of exhaustion and collapse. But again, not all people know how to find the help.
KlaasKids.com offers tips for families whose children go missing along with other valuable information.
Marc Klaas says on his website, "Remember, there is no 24 or 48-hour waiting period. If you meet resistance demand to speak to the watch commander and insist that they take a report and enter the information into the National Crime Information Computer (NCIC) at once."
Another issue is that if police believe a child between the ages of 10 and 17 is a runaway most media will not run the story.
I've learned through covering runaway cases that often police and media have agreements that media will not cover runaway cases. Read: Runaway status impedes family's efforts .
For example, Elizabeth Ennen was classified a runaway though her mother and family repeatedly told police she would not run away. It took 15 days before police would listen and get serious about searching for clues into her disappearance. Read: Elizabeth Ennen Murder: The missing link .
Similar to Phylicia's case, there was hardly no media coverage in Elizabeth's case until there was an arrest and her body was found.
In January a Baltimore police spokesman said, "Birds are falling out of the sky in Arkansas and two-headed calves, and this girl may lose her life."
The Baltimore Mayor's Office agreed about the possibilitly of a double-standard in the coverage of Phylicia's disapperance. However, he is more distressed about the case because it is so heartbreaking.
"You see other cases that get attention, other kids that go missing and it's immediately up on television and you know, I know there's frustration," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
HLN's Nancy Grace is currently featuring a "50 missing persons in 50 days" series. This National Missing Persons news writer has an ongoing "Spotlight on the Missing" series. Both strive to keep missing persons' cases, including cold cases, in the minds of the public.
Georgia Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Production of Child Pornography
WASHINGTON - Andrew Lastinger, 43, of Moultrie, Ga., was sentenced today to 25 years in prison followed by 50 years of supervised release for production of child pornography, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore of the Middle District of Georgia.
On May 6, 2010, Lastinger pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands to a one-count information charging him with producing child pornography. This investigation was initiated as a result of complaints received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding a significant number of child pornography images uploaded to a social networking Internet site from an email address registered to Lastinger.
FBI special agents executed a search warrant at Lastinger's residence and seized numerous items of electronic evidence. During the execution of the warrant, Lastinger admitted to uploading the child pornography images as well as to molesting and producing child pornography images of a minor boy, and attempting to produce child pornography of another minor boy.
Subsequent forensic examinations of computers and other electronic media seized from Lastinger's residence confirmed the existence of over 100,000 images of child pornography, child pornography images of the minor boy produced by Lastinger, and of Lastinger attempting to take a sexually explicit video of the other minor boy.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Crane of the Middle District of Georgia and Trial Attorney Mi Yung Park of the Criminal Division's CEOS. The case was investigated by the FBI; the Colquitt County, Ga., Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Divisions; and CEOS's High Technology Investigative Unit.
Chula Vista soccer coach arrested on suspicion of child molestation
April 20, 2011
A 61-year-old soccer coach in Chula Vista has been arrested on suspicion of repeatedly molesting a 16-year-old boy.
Police said they are looking for other possible victims. Luiz Roberto Raymundo gave group lessons to teenagers hoping for a career in professional soccer in Brazil, officials said. He remains in San Diego County Jail on $500,000 bail.
Newport Beach man marries his alleged then-underage victim
Famed photographer faces statutory rape charges of the 18-year-old he married Feb. 28 in Laguna Hills.
by Joseph Serna
April 19, 2011
A famed Newport Beach fitness photographer accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl has married his alleged victim now that she's an adult, county records show.
Jason James Ellis, 36, who is facing statutory rape charges, married the 18-year-old woman in Laguna Hills on Feb. 28, according to an Orange County License and Certificate of Marriage.
Prosecutors said the woman has stopped cooperating with authorities in their felony case against Ellis and his ex-fiancée, Michelle Hecker, who are accused of sexually assaulting her in 2007 and 2008.
It's not clear how the marriage would affect a jury's decision, but Deputy Dist. Atty. Drew Haughton said the circumstances are certainly unusual in a sexual assault case like statutory rape.
"I typically saw weddings more in the context where there was a pregnancy involved and they wanted to keep the family together," Haughton said, adding that Ellis and his wife aren't expecting as far as he knows. "I don't think I've ever seen one with this large an age difference."
Hecker and Ellis were charged with six felonies, ranging from lewd acts on a child to unlawful sexual intercourse, though Hecker was only accused of being an accomplice to the relationship.
The woman's testimony was key to prosecutors arguing that Hecker fostered the relationship between her and Hecker's then-fiancée.
Authorities said Hecker met the woman — then an aspiring model — at an equestrian center and said Ellis could photograph her.
Prosecutors dismissed all charges against Hecker on March 25. Ellis' attorney was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
For at least eight months between 2007 and 2008, Ellis allegedly carried on a sexual relationship with the then-minor before a relative complained to police.
Despite the marriage and uncooperative victim, Haughton remains confident in the case.
"I think whether they're married or not, he committed a crime because we have evidence to believe he had sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old female," Haughton said.
Because the woman who married Ellis could have been the victim of a crime, the Daily Pilot has decided to withhold her name.
Ellis is due back in court for a pre-trial hearing May 20. He faces up to seven years in prison, if convicted.
Amber Alert system questioned amid Linnik lawsuit
by CHRIS DANIELS
TACOMA, Wash. -- Lawyers for the family a 12-year-old murdered after being kidnapped from her Tacoma home are claiming an Amber Alert was delayed because the officer allowed to issue such a warning fell asleep.
The controversy in the 2007 case of Zina Linnik has prompted discussion once again about how the Amber Alert system works in Washington State.
According to newly released court documents, Tacoma Police Department spokesman Sgt. Mark Fulghum had taken an over-the counter combination of pain and sleep medications. When rousted in the middle of the night and asked by detectives to trigger an Amber Alert for Linnik, he allegedly fell back asleep.
The Tacoma Police officer allowed to issue such a warning fell asleep after getting a middle of the night call asking to trigger the missing child system.
The alert wasn't issued for 6 more hours.
“Sergeant Fulghum falling asleep was the last nail in Zina's coffin,” says Linnik family attorney Trevor Firkins.
Still, lawyers representing the city of Tacoma say the lawsuit claiming the city was negligent in handling the Amber Alert say the matter should be thrown out. They claim the department had no legal obligation to issue an alert at all, and Linnik was probably dead just minutes after she was taken.
The system was tested in Federal Way just last week, where police issued a call for help because the child involved was “under the age of 16, not a volunteer runaway, and in immediate danger” said spokesperson Cathy Shrock.
The alert was issued roughly 90 minutes after an 8-year-old girl went missing. She showed up back home later the same night. An arrest was made the next day.
“That decision is expected to be made by the responding officer, and first level superior,” said Shrock.
Every jurisdiction in Washington has different policies and procedures for handling missing child cases. But usually, a commanding officer makes a call to a public information officer or dispatcher, who then triggers the Washington State Patrol's Amber Alert system.
The Pierce County Sheriff's Department says it filters many of the requests for help and says his agency is careful about what information it puts out.
“You can't launch an Amber Alert and tell everyone someone is missing unless you have something for them to look for and call police," said Troyer.
Tacoma has since revised the policy on Amber Alerts, allowing supervisory officers to issue an alert in addition to the department's spokesperson.
Documentary opens eyes to sex trafficking
Barnard and Columbia Health co-sponsored the documentary film "Very Young Girls" as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The average age of entrance into prostitution in the United States is 13 years old. That's legally too young to consent to sex.
This, among other harsh realities, is the subject of the 2008 documentary “Very Young Girls.” On Wednesday, April 20, Barnard and Columbia Health Services' Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Program co-sponsored a screening of the documentary at the Diana Center Event Oval. The event was part of ongoing programming for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“Very Young Girls” provides an eye-opening and honest look at sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in the streets of New York City. Many of the young women who tell their stories in the film were as young as 12 or 13 when they were forced into prostitution. They reveal stories of extreme manipulation and abuse, and cameras follow them closely as they struggle to escape “the life.”
But there is also an uplifting aspect to the documentary. Much of the film focuses on Girls Educational and Mentoring Services and its inspirational founder, Rachel Lloyd. GEMS works to “empower girls and young women, ages 12-21, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential.” A former prostitute herself, Lloyd now dedicates her life to helping other women escape their abusers, heal, and get an education. GEMS partners with several other New York City agencies, such as the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, in order to help young women recover their lives.
The screening included a Q-and-A session with Janice Holzman, the communications and development director for GEMS. At one point in the film, a police officer refuses to help a woman whose daughter is being held against her will by a pimp. After strong audience reactions to the scene, Holzman reminded viewers that improvements have been made since the film was released. “That was 2006 when … a lot of that footage was a taken,” she said. “It's not 100 percent better, but we're making movements in the right direction.”
The movements to which Holzman referred include New York's Safe Harbor Act. This legislation defines underage children as victims of sex trafficking, which means that minors are no longer charged with prostitution and treated like criminals. In fact, many young girls are sentenced to GEMS programs instead of prison.
As shown in the film, rehabilitation is a long and difficult process. “We see it as very similar to the situation of domestic violence in that it takes five or seven times for these girls to leave their attackers,” Holzman said.
Phung Tran, a spokesperson for Columbia Health Services, said events like this one are relevant to Columbia students because they encourage engagement with difficult issues. “All SAAM events are student-generated and student-driven,” Tran said. “Events and film screenings … provide a forum for dialogue among the campus community.”
Dad wishes Amber Alert would help find son
by Curtis Krueger
Autumn Harris was supposed to bring her 3-year-old son back home to his father after a one-night visit. Instead, she disappeared.
So Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thomas Minkoff ordered police this month to pick up the toddler as soon as they could find him.
The judge listed several reasons for worry: The mother has acknowledged a history of mental illness and two suicide attempts. She admitted living previously with young Jaeden in a home without water or electric service. The home's "filthy" conditions were reportedly "not fit for any child or any other human being to inhabit."
So the judge concluded in his April 6 order, "the minor child's physical well-being is in immediate danger."
But not enough immediate danger, apparently, for an Amber Alert, the system that makes sure news of abducted children is broadcast statewide and in some cases nationwide.
Clearwater police contacted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about the case, fairly sure that it did not meet the strict five-point criteria for an Amber Alert, but wanting to be sure, FDLE spokesman Keith Kameg said. The FDLE confirmed it did not meet the requirements of an Amber Alert case, he said.
One of those criteria is that authorities "must conclude that the child's life is in danger." Police spokeswoman Joelle Castelli said Clearwater did not reach that conclusion about this case.
Another criterion is that "there must be a clear indication of an abduction." But Clearwater considered this "interference with child custody" rather than an abduction, Castelli said.
She explained the difference with an example. If a parent showed up without permission and snatched a child from a home or school, that would be an abduction. But if a parent fails to bring a child back from a lawful visit, that's interference.
Interference is against the law — and Castelli stressed that Clearwater detectives consider this an active criminal investigation. Police are on the lookout for Harris and her mother, Sandra Lawan Harris, who may be with them.
But interference with child custody does not trigger Amber Alerts.
Ryan Johnson said he's grateful for how police are working on the case, but he's dismayed that he can't get an Amber Alert.
"I don't agree with that at all. … If the judge feels that your son is in danger, I think it should automatically trigger an Amber Alert," Johnson said.
He'd like an Amber Alert because it would trigger more publicity and therefore give him more chances of reuniting with his son. He wonders if things would be different if he were more prominent.
"I'm just a regular person, said Johnson, 30, who works at a medical company. "If it was a baseball player or somebody who meant something to the community, I think it would be an Amber Alert."
Jaeden was born in December 2007, and divorce proceedings began 15 months later. Johnson, the father, was the custodial parent when he agreed to let Harris take Jaeden for an overnight visit this March.
They agreed she would return Jaeden at 6 p.m. March 20 at the Clearwater Police Department, according to court records. When she hadn't showed up by 6:15, Johnson worried. At 6:30, "I was starting to freak out." By 7:30, he was making a report with police.
Clearwater detectives obtained information that Harris, her mother and Jaeden may have gone to Orlando.
Johnson said he is concerned that Harris might be violent toward his son — he pointed out that she was twice arrested for domestic battery. However, charges were dropped in both cases.
Johnson pleaded no contest to marijuana possession in 2003 and pleaded no contest to carrying a concealed weapon in 2000.
The Complexities of Sex Trafficking, and Some Simple Solutions
by Rinku Sen
Wednesday, April 20 2011
I have been eagerly awaiting Rachel Lloyd's book, “Girls Like Us,” since I met her last summer. Lloyd is the founder and director of GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services), an organization that helps teenagers whose sexuality has been exploited for commercial gain. In “Girls Like Us,” Lloyd blends memoir, reportage and political thinking to critique a free market society in which absolutely everything is for sale. She leads us to systemic solutions, which Lloyd and the members of GEMS have designed and won. That combination gives readers a way into an otherwise impenetrable issue. The girls' stories allow a gut-level understanding of the trade's enormous scale, and a clear sense of what needs to change, from the language we use to the laws we pass.
A book like this can be tough reading, and Lloyd is clearly aware of the potential for fatigue. Her own story begins with her single mother in a small English town, winds around to stripping in German clubs at the age of 17, moves through a series of violent relationships with pimps and ultimately has her leaving “the life” to go to New York and, eventually, start GEMS. Her storytelling is raw and straightforward; not hiding the shame and fear that accompanied her early “decisions,” but never veering off into melodrama, and even including a more-than-occasional flash of humor.
Lloyd's story grounds those of dozens of teens, and a few pre-teens, putting many faces on a pattern so normalized that it permeates our music, television, hospitals and police stations. When the reader starts to feel overwhelmed by the numbers, Lloyd presents a girl. As soon as the girls start to blend together, she returns to her own story. As soon as you're overwhelmed by story, she gives you some analysis. It all builds toward a policy change so practical that I can only wonder why no one thought of it before: Bills such as the Safe Harbor Act in New York, which among other things mandates that underage people involved in the sex industry will not be charged with prostitution. Girls under the age of 17 are legally too young to consent to sex in New York, and yet they are charged regularly with sex crimes. The law took effect in April 2010.
Lloyd, whose heritage is Anglo and Roma, eloquently describes the role that race and class play in the popular understanding of sex trafficking. Girls who are trafficked across borders are thought of as victims, and so are white, middle-class American girls. But the black and Latina girls with whom Lloyd works are thought to have chosen their life, to be oversexed or scheming or too lazy to do anything but sell themselves. They are referred to as young adults, even when they are far under 15, and cops call their rapes “theft of services.” Even though federal law says that anyone under the age of 18 who is sold for sex is a victim of severe trafficking, with no need to prove coercion or force, if the girl is an American and of color, she will too often be arrested, charged with prostitution and jailed.
In a particularly striking section of “Girls Like Us,” Lloyd notes that media attention related to exploited and missing girls matters:
It makes a difference in whether your disappearance gets copters and dogs or flyers. It makes a difference in how you're treated by a jury of “your peers.” It makes a difference in whether your family members are believed or taken seriously. In over a decade of working with thousands of girls, most of whom have been missing at some point, many of whom were literally kidnapped and held by force, I have never seen a GEMS case that has gotten an Amber Alert.
Lloyd's treatment of the men of color is evenhanded. She notes that the stereotypical image of a black pimp hides the huge numbers of white men who occupy that role or otherwise benefit from the exploitation. She recounts the story of the pimp of a GEMS girl, whom she encounters late at night in a hospital. Through the course of their long talk, she can see his own history of abuse, his own limited prospects, his own genuine feelings for the very girl he has been beating and selling. She can see him thinking hard as she's talking to him, but hears a week later that he is selling new girls. He can't go all the way to her side because the benefits are too good and he has no incentive to stop.
In organizing, the most difficult emotional contradictions arise as people who have been victimized struggle to stop blaming themselves while unearthing their own power to make new choices. Anyone who builds a life after exploitation does so not just because she encounters the rare sympathetic cop; not just because a new law gets her victim services rather than incarceration; not just because a Rachel Lloyd is there to advocate on her behalf. Girls who escape decide to take a life-changing dare, somewhere along the line of a long, painful process of self-discovery and acceptance. That acceptance has to apply to every part of the whole, whether for individuals or a society. The lost parts, the survivor parts, the stupid and the smart parts. That is Lloyd's ultimate gift with “Girls Like Us”—daring us to join the movement to liberate girls from sexual exploitation, and giving us the feeling that we can do it, no matter what has gone before.
For other resources on this issue, see the Showtime documentary “Very Young Girls.”
Sex trafficking problem in “the brothel of Scandinavia”
High tolerance and soft laws on buying sex create easy market for human traffickers in Denmark
April 12, 2011
In Sweden, if you buy sex from another person, you're branded a “loser”. In Denmark, you're just a regular, cool guy.
A recent CNN report, which labelled Denmark the “Brothel of Scandinavia”, compared Swedish and Danish laws regarding prostitution and their relative effects on public attitudes, demand, and sex trafficking.
The report's conclusion was that Denmark's tolerance of buying sex had created an easy, high-profit market for pimps and human traffickers.
In Denmark, it is legal to sell or buy sex, as long as both the prostitute and client are over 18, and the prostitute is not being coerced or pimped. By contrast, while selling sex is legal in Sweden, buying it is not.
Though the Swedish law may sound hypocritical, Swedish authorities say it works because it does not punish the prostitutes – who are considered victims of circumstance, if not exploitation – while it succeeds in discouraging the demand for prostitutes.
People caught buying sex in Sweden receive an expensive fine and an embarrassing public notice delivered to their home. Authorities say the criminalisation of the customers – not to mention public humiliation – has had a normative effect.
“You're a loser if you buy sex in Sweden,” Lise Tamm, a Swedish prosecutor who specialises in organised crime, told CNN.
Sweden's justice minister Beatrice Ask said the law's high consequences for customers has the much more important effect of decreasing demand for prostitutes and with it the number of sex traffickers.
In contrast, Denmark's lack of stigma or punitive measures for people – men, in nearly all cases – who buy sex has resulted in widely visible street prostitution, some 500-700 brothels, and a growing problem with sex trafficking, according to the National Police's own statistics.
Trine Møller Andersen, who leads the Copenhagen police's anti-human trafficking effort, said that on any given day 1,200-1,400 prostitutes are working in Denmark. But she does not see sex tourism as a problem. “Apart from the occasional Swede who comes over the bridge to buy sex, the vast majority of the customers are Danish men,” she told The Copenhagen Post.
In other words, sex traffickers in Denmark build their business on the demand – and open attitudes – of Danish men.
According to a recent study from Servicestyrelsen, a division of the Social Ministry, some 24 percent of young Danish men between the ages of 15-19 would consider buying sex, while some 35 percent see nothing wrong with a girl giving oral sex in exchange for money or gifts, according to metroXpress newspaper.
A 2008 campaign by Servicestyrelsen aimed at educating young men about the exploitation of prostitutes appeared in fact to back-fire and resulted in more young men going to brothels.
One 19-year-old interviewed by Servicestyrelsen described his first visit to a brothel as “just like calling and ordering a pizza”.
“Many young men still have the perception that it is legitimate to buy sex,” Kenneth Reinicke, a men's researcher from Roskilde University, told metroXpress. “They back themselves up with the fact that it is legal, and they don't see the misery behind the smiling and welcoming prostitutes. If it is illegal, it will force them to think about how legitimate it is to buy another person's body.”
The Social Democrats and the Socialist People's Party – considered the frontrunners for this year's election – want to adopt a Swedish-style law criminalising the purchase of sex.
A range of therapies and social services to help women to leave prostitution would accompany the change of law if the parties come to power and get their way.
But some prostitutes themselves counter that the criminalisation of clients is a “terrible idea” that will only push sex traffickers, and their victims, further underground.
‘Jackie-1', who has worked as an independent street prostitute in Denmark for more than 22 years, wrote on www.sexarbejde.dk, a website by and for Danish prostitutes: “It is certainly because they want to help the foreign women who are being forced to work. But criminalisation won't help them either – they will just be pulled off the streets and put down in a dark cellar instead.”
Oakland Stepping Up Efforts to Stop Child Prostitution
Mayor says majority of girls come from foster careby Shoshana Walter
At about noon Wednesday, a young woman in a short, tight skirt cut through a crowd of protesters, texting on her phone.
The protesters were a group of about 50 organizers and neighbors marching against sex trafficking on “The Track”; the woman, a suspected prostitute.
On any given day or night, police say hundreds of women and girls are selling sex along International Boulevard, a street lined with apartment buildings, houses, as well as community organizations, hair salons and shops.
“There's one there,” said Oakland police captain Ed Tracey.
Tracey said the young woman was likely a prostitute because she was skimpily dressed, not carrying any books or a purse, and appeared glued to her phone.
“It's sort of like being a doctor,” he said. “I know a disease when I see it.”
Wednesday's march from Agnes Memorial Church to San Antonio Park was one of a series of recent events to visibly deter prostitution in the neighborhood, and part of a renewed effort to stop child sex traffickers from using Oakland as a base for their operations. Marchers included organizers from the East Bay Asian Youth Center; MISSEY; the Child Abuse Listening, Interviewing and Coordination Center; Bay Area Women Against Rape; and Banteay Srei.
The organizations have diverse responsibilities, reflecting the city's multi-faceted approach to fighting sex trafficking. Some regularly conduct outreach to young women and girls on the street, others interview young women during criminal investigations, and some provide services after girls are caught.
“It takes all of us to protect these kids,” said Andy Nelson, an EBAYC organizer and public policy analyst.
Before the march began, Oakland mayor Jean Quan spoke to the crowd over a bullhorn and urged everyone to support a bill recently introduced by Assemblymember Sandre Swanson that would increase penalties and fines for those involved in the child sex trade.
Quan said the majority of young women who become prostitutes come from foster care. Although many are not receptive to help once they've been caught, Quan insisted intervention is key. She's recruiting 2,000 volunteers to mentor young women.
“I don't care what they say, if they're under 18 and out there working the streets, it's not by choice,” she said.
Since the beginning of the year, police have cracked down on prostitution in this area of Oakland, arresting johns, pimps and prostitutes. Recently police arrested 17 johns and two pimps during an undercover operation on 17 th and International. A sting last week netted nearly 15 arrests of both women and girls. But Tracey said arrests alone cannot solve the problem; many juveniles return straight to the street.
On Wednesday, as protesters chanted "Stop selling our children," neighbors trickled out of their homes. David Jones, who lives on International Boulevard near 21st, said he supported the protest but thinks it will be difficult to make a dent in the decades-old trade.
Tran Udent, a mother of a 16-year-old girl who participated in the march, said the stream of young women seems endless.
“My heart is broken because they look like my kid,” she said.
Federal agency accuses Beverly Hills company of trafficking Thai farmworkers
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accuses Global Horizons Manpower of Beverly Hills of subjecting Thai workers to illegal conditions on farms in Hawaii and Washington. The head of the firm is already facing a criminal trial on similar charges.
by Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times
April 21, 2011
In its largest farm labor trafficking case ever, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Wednesday charged a Beverly Hills-based firm and eight farms with severe abuse and discrimination involving more than 200 Thai farmworkers.
Federal attorneys alleged that Global Horizons Manpower Inc., a labor contracting firm headed by Israel native Mordechai Orian, subjected workers in Hawaii and Washington to violence, inadequate pay and nutrition, rat-infested housing, and other illegal conditions based on their national origin and race.
Global Horizons recruited Thai men to the farms under a legal farmworker program from 2003 to 2007 with false promises of steady, high-paying jobs — then confiscated their passports and threatened them with deportation if they complained about work conditions, according to two civil complaints announced Wednesday in Los Angeles. To secure the jobs, the workers were charged recruitment fees as high as $25,000, forcing many of them to take on staggering debt, according to Anna Park, regional attorney for the commission's Los Angeles office.
"Human trafficking remains one of the worst forms of discrimination in this day and age," Park said.
Global Horizons did not respond to an email request for comment, and the firm's phones did not appear to be working. The firm's previous spokeswoman, Kara Lujan, said Wednesday that she cut ties with Global Horizons in December after becoming suspicious about its financial integrity; she is now representing a Vietnam-based firm alleging that Orian scammed it out of $600,000 after failing to produce promised jobs in Canada and Israel for 300 Vietnamese farmworkers.
Orian could not be reached for comment. A Honolulu grand jury has indicted him and seven associates on criminal charges of conspiracy to coerce the labor of about 600 Thai workers. Orian has pleaded not guilty; the trial is scheduled for February. If convicted, he faces 70 years in prison.
Most of the farms, which are in Hawaii and Washington, could not be reached for comment or said they could not comment because they had not yet received the complaints.
Chanchanit Martorell, executive director of the Thai Community Development Center, which has worked on the case for seven years, said some of the workers were housed 18 to a room and were so undernourished that they were driven to eat leaves. Others were housed in a freight container with no windows, electricity or running water. They also suffered "cruel and abusive" treatment by overseers in the coffee and pineapple fields, she said.
Although the workers were paid at least minimum wage, they ended up earning far less than promised because fees were deducted for food and lodging, Martorell said. The workers were told they could work three years, enough time to pay off their debts, but some were deported back to Thailand after a few months, she added.
She said more victims are expected to surface, since Global Horizons acquired temporary agricultural visas for 1,100 Thai workers.
In a related development, the EEOC filed suit against an Alabama-based marine services company alleging it discriminated against at least 500 Indian welders and pipe-fitters at its Mississippi and Texas facilities. The complaint alleges that Signal International subjected the workers to unsanitary housing, unwholesome food, demeaning treatment and retaliation when they complained. Signal International officials could not be reached for comment.
Olophius E. Perry, EEOC district director in Los Angeles, said the commission is increasing scrutiny of human trafficking, one of the largest illegal trades in the world. The commission held a special meeting on the problem in January to discuss more effective ways to combat it, he said.
"We are barely scratching the surface," he said.
In-home Caregiver Arrested for Molesting an Autistic Child
April 18, 2011
Los Angeles: On April 13, 2011, Jeremy Shawn Stockton was arrested by LAPD Devonshire Division officers for Lewd Acts with a Child under the age of 14, after the autistic child came forward with details of the molestation.
The suspect, 29-year-old Jeremy Shawn Stockton, is an employee of Wellspring, a local agency that specializes in behavioral intervention for young children with autism. Since May 2008, Stockton has worked for Wellspring as an in-home caregiver for developmentally disabled children. He has also been a special education trainee at Ulysses S. Grant High School in Van Nuys. Although not a YMCA employee, in 2009, he worked among developmentally disabled children at the YMCA facility in La Canada. He then worked at Valley Therapeutic Recreational Center in North Hollywood.
On April 14, 2011, the District Attorney's office filed multiple counts of lewd acts against children under the age of 14. Stockton is being held on $1.45 million bail.
Suspect Stockton is described as a Caucasian male with brown hair and brown eyes. He stands 6 feet tall and weighs approximately 185 pounds.
Detectives investigating the case believe there may be additional victims. Anyone with information about this case, or any unreported cases are asked to call Devonshire Division Detective Pikor at 818- 832-0985 , or Detective Cox at 818-832-0978 . During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 . Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS ( 800-222-8477 ).
Tipsters may also contact Crimestoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.
Stripped of Dignity
by MAUREEN DOWD
A young computer programmer on his way to a pheasant-hunting trip last November offered a cri de coeur about government groping.
“If you touch my junk,” he told the T.S.A. agent at the San Diego airport just before he abandoned his trip, “I'll have you arrested.”
It's hard to feel safe in the skies when you have to worry not only about terrorists but our own air-traffic controllers conking out, watching movies and making boneheaded mistakes. A controller's error on Monday evening put Michelle Obama's plane frighteningly close to a 200-ton military cargo jet.
Ever since the Thanksgiving rebellion over intrusive new pat-downs that some have dubbed “gate-rape,” Americans have been debating security requirements versus privacy rights.
Consternation crackled again last week when a Kentucky couple posted video of their 6-year-old daughter being given the deep probe by a female T.S.A. agent in New Orleans.
“We felt that it was inappropriate,” the girl's mother, Selena Drexel, told ABC News. “You know, we struggle to teach our child to protect themselves, to say ‘No, it's not O.K. for folks to touch me in this way, in these areas.' Yet, here we are saying, ‘Well, it's O.K. for these people.' ”
Alaska State Representative Sharon Cissna has become a heroine for many women with breast cancer since she spoke out about the “twisted policy” of having the “invasive, probing hands of a stranger” on her, after scanners twice showed the scars from her mastectomy and she was ordered to undergo “humiliating” body searches.
The second time the Anchorage Democrat was told to do the pat-down in mid-February, returning to Juneau after getting medical treatment in Seattle, she refused. She rented a car, drove three hours into British Columbia, took a plane from Vancouver to the small town of Prince Rupert and then got on a ferry for a two-day trip to Juneau.
Her fellow lawmakers in the Last Frontier, where people have to travel by air quite a bit, passed a bill she co-sponsored pushing the T.S.A. to rethink its methods because “no one should have to sacrifice their dignity in order to travel.”
Cissna, 69, who said the aggressive pat-down also stirred unpleasant memories of a teenage molestation, said she has gotten more than a thousand letters. The Alaska Legislature has asked the U.S. Senate to hold hearings.
“I don't have a huge war against T.S.A.,” she said on Monday. “I have a huge war against government that isn't looking carefully enough at the people that it serves.”
She asserted that the system does not seem smartly tailored to focus on dangerous people rather than “good, law-abiding people.” So kids, seniors and those with disabilities, joint replacements and other medical conditions — things they already feel embarrassed about — end up getting harassed.
“Not only breast cancer veterans like myself,” she said, “but people who've had colostomies, any kind of alteration to their bodies that makes them look not absolutely 100 percent normal. And it is assaultive.”
One of my relatives, a distinguished federal official, recently sent a letter of complaint to the T.S.A. about her experience submitting to a body search at Washington's Reagan airport after the scanner reflected the shadow of the ostomy bag she wears on her abdomen.
Fearing that would happen, she had printed out the notification card on the T.S.A. Web site, as she wrote, “so as to discreetly inform the T.S.A. agent of my medical condition. The agent would not even look at the card. ... The screening agent then did a hand search of my groin, breasts, under the waistband of my slacks and around my ostomy bag. ... Does having an ileostomy now make you a terrorist suspect?”
She has been rethinking how long she wants to work for the government in a job that requires a lot of air travel and says she would consider joining a class-action lawsuit against the T.S.A.
John Pistole, the T.S.A. chief and 26-year veteran of the F.B.I., said he called Tom Sawyer, a 61-year-old bladder cancer survivor who had his urostomy bag dislodged, and urine spilled on him, after a rough T.S.A. search in Detroit last November.
“I asked him to come in and provide some personal perspective that could be used in training to give greater sensitivity,” said Pistole, who flew Sawyer from Lansing, Mich., to Washington.
He said they are trying to move past a “one-size-fits-all” program and implement a “risk-based, intelligence-driven process” by the end of the year that would have more refined targeting. If passengers are willing to share the same information they give to airline frequent-flier programs, he said, maybe some day they will be able to “keep their jacket on and their laptop in their briefcase and hang on to that unfinished bottle of water.
“I'd like to get to the point,” he said wistfully, “where most people could leave their shoes on.”
Making Campuses Safer
Federal statistics suggest that as many as 1 in 5 women will be victims of sexual assault during their college years. Far too many women who report their attackers are then victimized by complaint systems that are difficult to navigate and disciplinary proceedings that are stacked against them. The Education Department's civil rights office has issued new guidelines for schools with the aim of making campuses safer.
At the moment, the department has open investigations of possible Title IX violations at several universities, including Yale, where 16 students and recent graduates have accused the university of tolerating a hostile environment toward women on campus.
The guidelines press schools to have a zero-tolerance attitude toward sexual assault and harassment and to adopt a complaint process that gives equal protection to the accusers and accused. Schools that fail to comply would be at risk of losing federal aid or facing legal sanctions.
The new guidance requires that the accuser and the accused have the same rights. The guidance makes clear that both the accused and the accuser also need to be notified in writing about outcomes of complaint procedures. It further warns schools that they must not try to dissuade accusers from filing criminal complaints either during or after the internal investigations that schools are required to undertake.
Schools will also have to create violence-prevention programs that include better training for coaches, residence hall counselors and others. A cultural change is essential to make campuses safer places for all.
Lawsuit: Officer's sleep delayed Amber Alert for Zina Linnik
by ADAM LYNN / The News Tribune
An Amber Alert about the abduction of 12-year-old Zina Linnik in 2007 could have gone out six hours earlier had Tacoma's police spokesman not fallen asleep after receiving an early-morning call asking him to issue the alert.
Recently filed court documents indicate a detective sergeant called spokesman Mark Fulghum at home about 4 a.m. on July 5, that year, and asked him to send out the alert.
Fulghum had taken the over-the-counter pain reliever/sleep aid Advil PM before going to bed about 1 a.m. and fell back to sleep before fulfilling Sgt. Tom Davidson's request, the records show.
Under the Police Department's unwritten policy at the time, Fulghum was the only member of the agency authorized to issue Amber Alerts.
The department since has adopted a formal written policy that allows officers with the rank of sergeant or above to issue the alerts without going through Fulghum.
The alert regarding Zina wasn't issued until about 10 a.m. July 5 – about 12 hours after the girl was reported missing.
The alert contained information gathered shortly after her abduction, including descriptions of her and the van and driver seen leaving the alley behind her Hilltop home about 9:40 p.m. July 4.
Fulghum on Tuesday declined to comment for this story, referring questions to Jean Homan , the deputy city attorney. She, too, declined to comment, referring questions to City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli .
Efforts to reach Pauli for comment were unsuccessful. Terapon Adhahn , a convicted sex offender,confessed to abducting and killing the girl. He led investigators to her body in eastern Pierce County a few days later.
The Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office determined that Zina died of blunt force trauma to the head. Adhahn subsequently pleaded guilty and is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The circumstances surrounding Fulghum's inaction are detailed for the first time publicly in court pleadings recently filed in the wrongful death lawsuit Zina's family brought a year ago.
Unsolved missing persons cases rare in county
Law enforcement could not find Michael Berry after he went missing in 2006, but when it comes to the missing, the Pennington County Sheriff's Office usually gets its person.
The Sheriff's Office has a strong record of finding the missing, according to Lt. Marty Graves, with the sheriff's office.
“We're fortunate enough that we have been very successful in locating them,” Graves said.
In about 120 missing reports the sheriff's office has handled since 1995, only about 2 percent are unresolved in the county, according to Graves.
Those reports include anything from missing children, lost hunters to late employees, Graves said.
“We take a report immediately if somebody believes that something isn't right,” Graves said.
It is critical that finding the person starts with some idea of where he or she was last seen, Graves said.
In 2010, using a national calling system, the sheriff's office helped find a missing 11-year-old Box Elder girl who failed to come home on time. Within 15 minutes of the system's activation, the child was located at a friend's house, the Journal reported.
Although resources are focused on finding the missing, law enforcement could be searching for a person that just does not want to be found.
“The interesting part about missing persons is it's not against the law to be missing,” Graves said.
“We've actually worked missing case files where we've located people, and they didn't want to be found, and they weren't happy that we found them.”
In 2004, the sheriff's office helped in a multiagency search for an Ellsworth airman who was later found in Missouri after staging his own disappearance. He was brought back to the base to face military charges, according to a Journal report.
The National Crime Information Center, a computerized index of criminal justice information, is one of the most effective tools law enforcement uses to locate the missing, Graves said.
It allows agencies in different jurisdictions and states to compare their found people or remains to those in the system.
A person's family information, mental and physical health, financial situation and hobbies help law enforcement narrow their search. As the search progresses, factors like weather, geography, health and time work against law enforcement.
“Your first 48 hours are pretty critical in most investigations and as that time frame gets expanded it just gets a little harder to follow up on things,” Graves said. “You get to a year or two out, things become pretty cold.”
Search Continues For Missing Darden Woman
Authorities continued the search today for 20 year old Holly Lynn Bobo, a nursing student who was abducted from her Darden home on Wednesday, April 13. Her brother, Clint Bobo, told investigators he saw a man dressed in camouflage leading Holly Bobo into the woods behind their rural home. Investigators say Clint Bobo, 25, believed his sister had been talking with her boyfriend but later became alarmed when he discovered blood outside the home.
Law enforcement officials arrived on the scene at the Swan Johnson Road residence and began the massive search. After word spread of the abduction, volunteers joined the search effort, combing the densely wooded area over the next several days on foot, horseback and four wheelers.
A volunteer staging area was set up at Bear Creek Baptist Church by Wednesday afternoon and donations of food and bottled water began pouring in to aid in the volunteer effort.
By Friday, strong storms and the threat of tornadoes hampered the search and the volunteer headquarters was moved to the local fairgrounds. More than 1,100 volunteers answered the call for help Friday as the search expanded and by Sunday, as many as 2,000 people signed up to join in the search. School buses carried volunteers from the fairgrounds to the search areas in the Bible Hill area, near Interstate 40 and Natchez Trace State Park.
“It has been amazing to see so many people willing to take time to help and how quickly they got here. Everyone is just worried about Holly and wants her returned safely to her family who loves her,” said one volunteer.
The county has shown its support for the search effort by displaying pink ribbons outside homes and businesses, wearing pink ribbons and donning t-shirts declaring “Pray for Holly.”
The night of the kidnapping, prayer services were held at area churches and outside the Parsons Florist. Sunday night, a service was held at the Fairgrounds where volunteers sang “Amazing Grace” and prayed for Bobo's safe return. Tens of thousands of people from across the country have also joined a prayer chain online for Bobo.
On Saturday, April 15, a lunch box belonging to Bobo was recovered near a creek approximately eight miles northeast of the abduction sight in the Bible Hill area. Other belongings were reportedly recovered but investigators have yet to comment on what those items may be. The blood found outside the Bobo home has also not yet been confirmed to belong to Holly.
Representatives of several law enforcement agencies including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Marshals office have collaborated with the Decatur County Sheriff's Department in efforts during the investigation and while little has turned up, Investigators hope that the national news coverage will aid in finding Bobo's abductor and lead to her safe return.
The TBI announced nearly 300 leads from around the country are currently being investigated, and asked the public Sunday to report any possible clues to authorities.
Investigators believe the suspect may have known Bobo and is likely from the local area.
“Law enforcement is canvassing all the neighborhoods,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn at a Monday press conference. “We feel like the person is right here in the community, and we're asking if you know of anybody that just has changed their routine since Tuesday or anything like that, to let us know.”
The TBI is asking residents to report any person whose whereabouts were unaccounted for last Wednesday, or who may have missed work or other appointments since the abduction. According to a press release, the suspect may have excessively cleaned a car or ATV, suddenly sold a vehicle or reported it stolen, and may be showing signs of stress or anxiety.
The suspect in the case is described as being approximately six feet tall and weighting two hundred pounds.
Bobo is 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pink t-shirt and light blue jeans.
As of press time, no arrests had been made and there were no persons of interest in the case, according to Decatur County Sheriff Roy Wyatt.
The community has raised more than $25,000 toward a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the kidnapping. On Monday, Gov. Bill Haslam offered an additional $50,000 to the reward. A fund has been set up at FirstBank for additional donations to the reward. Donations can be sent to 450 Tennessee Ave. S. Parsons, TN 38363.
Anyone with any information in the case is asked to call the Decatur County Sheriff's Department at 731-852-3703 or 1-800-TBI-FIND .
Psychics Offer Tips in Search for Missing Woman Holly Bobo
by Benjamin Radford, LiveScience Contributor
19 April 2011
A young Tennessee woman named Holly Bobo was abducted Wednesday morning, last seen apparently being forced into the woods near her home by a man wearing camouflage. Despite extensive searches police have not found either Bobo or her abductor, and the case has garnered more publicity each day.
As with all high-profile missing persons' cases, tips and information about the crime come in from the public — including from alleged psychics. Because psychic powers have never been proven to exist (nor have they been useful in locating missing persons), police are cautious about using information from psychics, though they follow up on all credible information from any source. [ Jaycee Dugard Abduction Highlights Failure of Psychics ]
Here is a sampling of the psychic information that has been offered about Bobo, this one from various posts on an online psychic forum:
"The man who abducted Bobo is white with dark brown or salt and pepper hair, a full and shaggy moustache, and dark brown eyes. He is in his early 30's and around 5 ft 11 in weighing 210. He has nasty rash on his elbow. He is older than Bobo, a Scorpio, and the relative of Bobo's boyfriend, or the father of an ex-boyfriend. Bobo was abducted in a red truck with bales of hay in the back, and is being held and raped at his victimizer's home about 20 miles outside of Nashville, in a log cabin about 26-30 miles north of where she was abducted. Bobo's abductor makes lots of mistakes and will be captured within 5 days."
Another psychic offered this information:
"I first got a B name, like Bob. I feel West, and 7th, or just 7. A green truck. He may have had a weapon, a gun probably ... I also got the feeling that she may have casually met him somewhere but didn't really know him. Her abductor is scrawny, or medium build, blondish hair, little social skills, a country boy. He might have a bite mark on his hand. I feel that she may be alive and very scared, in a house. Something that sounds like Mango, then Mandarin. I have no idea what that means. ... Then I heard Robert/Bob but that still might be a name or sounding name. She may be held about 20 minutes away from where she was abducted, on the west side of Tennessee."
A Tarot-reading blogger who goes by the name of "Empathy" offered a lengthy (2,000-word)reading about Bobo on another website:"Places or people with name initials B or J might be useful. ... There may be a building over the other side of the water? It seems to me that there is a lack of faith or energy in finding Holly ... as though some people are actually not wanting to help find her, like there is no real effort here. The 10 of Wands [tarot card, suggests] that she could be found under 10 weeks ... 10 of wands is South but reversed it could be North. I see her inside or just outside the town near some buildings.The five of cups is upright so it shows a union with someone possibly either at a place with an M or W or name of person initials or something of that nature ..."
It's not clear what police (or anyone else) is supposed to do with this kind of information.
According to Empathy's deck of tarot cards , Bobo's disappearance may or may not be connected with a person, place, or thing that has the initials B, J, M, or W, or any combination of those letters; there may or may not be some association with a building near a stream or lake or river; Bobo might be found either to the south, or north (of what?); she may be inside, or just outside of a town near some buildings; and so on. This information (unfortunately typical of psychics ) is so vague and general as to be completely useless. Police and searchers need specific information that leads them to Bobo, not random associations.
Until and unless Bobo is recovered, there's no way to know if any of this information is correct, and some of it will likely be correct merely by chance. Her claim about the "lack of energy or effort" in searching for Bobo seems completely wrong, with hundreds of police and volunteer searchers looking for her, and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam recently increasing the reward for information about Bobo to $75,000. If anything, Bobo's case is getting far more effort and attention than many other missing persons' cases .
Empathy, like almost all psychics who have given information on Bobo's case, is surely sincerely trying to assist and truly believes she can help locate the missing woman. There are thousands of self-proclaimed psychics who claim to be able to find missing persons, including TV personalities like Sylvia Browne, Allison DuBois , and Carla Baron. If they truly have the powers they claim, why aren't those psychics leading police to rescue these innocent victims within hours or days of their abductions?
It is possible that one or more of these psychics will turn out to be largely or completely correct about Bobo's abduction. The problem for police is that, even if some of this (often contradictory) information is correct (and some of it will be, by chance), it's impossible to know what's accurate and what's not. In abduction cases, every minute and hour may mean the difference between life and death, and police cannot afford the time and resources to pursue every wild, vague scrap of information from people whose psychic abilities have never been proven .
CAST holds silent auction, panel for sex trafficking awareness
Carolina Against Sex Trafficking collaborates with Rahab's Rope to inform students about global issue
Carolina Against Sex Trafficking held a panel in the Capstone Conference Room on Tuesday evening in which representatives from Rahab's Rope, a nonprofit organization located in Gainesville, Ga., spoke about human trafficking and prostitution in India.
The organization, which was founded in 2004, helps women who are able to leave the life of prostitution and prepares them to re-enter society.
CAST President Amy Dewitt, as well as other volunteers, hoped to raise awareness about the issue.
Dewitt and USC graduate Amie Molnar, a CAST volunteer, went to India on a mission trip and helped some of these women transition back into society.
"It's an undercover topic," Molnar said, "People don't realize how big the problem really is."
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, human trafficking is the second most profitable criminal industry in the world. India has the most accounts of human trafficking — about 200 women and children in India are sold into prostitution a day. Atlanta is the number one city in the U.S. for child prostitution. Children, as young as 7, are often sold to mercenaries and forced to work in brothels. These victims contract diseases, are forced to endure many abortions and can feel as if they have no way out. Rahab's Rope hopes to change this.
The organization hopes that by educating these women, the women will be able to avoid a life of prostitution and poverty.
"With an issue like this, the first step is raising awareness," Dewitt said. "People are surprised to know that there are more slaves now than ever. It gets to a point where you can't not do something."
Rahab's Rope has centers located in Bangalore, Gao and Mumbai where they have vocational training for the women. With this training, these women are given certificates that they can use to get a job and escape the risk of being targeted for sex trafficking. Rahab's Rope has opened preschools and clinics to educate the women about their health and relationship-building skills.
At the end of the discussion, there was a silent auction and students were able to purchase pieces of jewelry, handbags and other things made in India. CAST was able to get artists from the university as well as local artists to donate their artwork for the auction. All proceeds went directly to Rahab's Rope and their mission. There was also a station where students could write letters or sign a card that would go to the women.
Third-year biology student Kyle Murdock donated a piece of artwork for the cause.
"I'm in the Christian fraternity and I thought it would be really nice to help out," Murdock said. "Hopefully the money is used to help one of these girls."
The group is in the process of becoming a non-governmental organization in India so that they can make more connections and open a store where the women can sell the items they create and recruit more women.
Jillian Hensley, Rahab's Rope director of recruiting and mobilization, hopes that the event will make people want to become involved. She gave students three ways to become involved with the organization: have an event and raise money, buy a piece that has been handcrafted by a woman in India or take a trip to India and volunteer at one of the centers.
Hood College forum invites discussion about child sex trade
by Pam Rigaux
Hood social work major Dana Davenport organized a forum on the child sex trade as part of her senior project to bring attention to National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month in April.
At the campus Tuesday evening, the documentary film "Playground" was shown and three experts answered questions in Whitaker Campus Commons.
"Anywhere you have sex for sale, you're going to have children mixed in," said Christine Fantacone, one of the panelists. She is an analyst for End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes, a nonprofit group.
Maryland is a prime location because of its proximity to New York City and Washington, Fantacone said. Child sex traders move children around to keep them disoriented and make them more difficult to trace, she said, adding that about 100,000 children are involved in the U.S. annually. Traders use the Internet and code words to set up sales.
There are no gender-specific statistics. Increasingly, the children involved come from a broad range of socio-economic backgrounds, Fantacone said.
They're kept in brothels or sometimes in motels. Pimps entice vulnerable children by befriending them. One pimp in the film said the key is not to force anyone. "You just talking. You see how far it will go."
The girls, he said, have often been molested. They don't have the same outlook as other girls. If they didn't "trip on it" the first time, they're "not going to trip on it the second time," the pimp said.
Statements from a teenage victim in the film seemed to confirm that she was accustomed to abuse and didn't see anything overly traumatic in her lifestyle.
In the film, a preteen child who was rescued from the trade and placed in a foster home later ran away. Fantacone said it is not uncommon for victims to flee foster homes. A solution might be to train foster parents first, she said.
Good outcomes have resulted from home-based therapy involving children who are from good homes and were returned to their original homes, Fantacone said.
The other experts were Global Centurion President Dr. Laura Lederer and Lisa Thompson, liaison for the Abolition of Human Trafficking for Salvation Army Inc.
North Texas woman admits allowing her husband to take pornographic photos/videos of her minor daughter
DALLAS - A former resident of Ennis, Texas, pleaded guilty on Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul D. Stickney to a one-count felony Information charging permitting the production of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas.
Sharon Lee Anderson, 38, and her husband, Buddy Anderson, 39, were arrested March 24 by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on charges outlined in a federal criminal complaint. Law enforcement located the Andersons at a homeless shelter in Las Vegas where they had absconded after leaving their apartment in Ennis.
Sharon Anderson faces a statutory maximum sentence of not less than 15 years or more than 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and a lifetime of supervised release. Sentencing is set for July 18 before U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey. Charges remain pending against Buddy Anderson; both remain in federal custody.
According to documents filed with the Court, between May 1999 and Dec. 11, 2003, Sharon Anderson knowingly permitted her husband, Buddy Anderson, to take sexually explicit photographs of her minor daughter. She further admitted that her daughter was between 4 and 8 years old when the photographs were taken, and that her husband used the photos later for his sexual arousal.
ICE HSI and the Ennis Police Department are investigating.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Camille Sparks and Lisa J. Miller, Northern District of Texas, are in charge of the prosecution.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE . This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com
LAPD seeks information in child molestation case
April 18, 2011
Los Angeles police Monday were seeking potential victims of a man charged with molesting a developmentally disabled child.
Jeremy Shawn Stockton, 29, is an employee of Wellspring, which specializes in working with children who have autism, the Los Angeles Police Department said.
Stockton also was a special education trainee at Grant High School in Van Nuys and worked with developmentally disabled children at the YMCA in La Cañada Flintridge, according to the LAPD.
Police said they arrested Stockton after an autistic child alleged he was molested. Stockton was charged with lewd acts against children under 14 and was being held in lieu of $1.45-million bail, the LAPD said.
Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at (818) 832-0985 or (818) 832-0978 .
38 indicted in prostitution ring in northern San Diego County
April 18, 2011
Thirty-eight people have been indicted in a prostitution ring that involved adult women and underage girls and was centered at a motel in Oceanside, federal authorities announced Monday.
The ring was organized by a street gang known as the Oceanside Crips and, since 2005, has used a Travelodge in Oceanside for purposes of prostitution, officials said. The ring was controlled from prison cells by gang members incarcerated on other charges.
Among those indicted were the owners and operators of the Travelodge, Vinod Patel, 60, and Hitesh Patel, 27. The motel is being seized by authorities.
Other low-cost motels in northern San Diego County were also used. Pimps "focused on vulnerable juvenile females who were runaways or from broken homes," according to the indictment.
Social networking websites including MySpace, Facebook and Twitter were used to lure girls into prostitution, officials said. The girls were then provided alcohol and drugs "to manipulate their loyalty and increase productivity."
The 38 are charged with racketeering. The charges were the result of an 18-month undercover investigation called Operation Vice Grip, said U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy.
The prostitution ring is "a form of modern-day slavery to which every available law enforcement resource will be applied," Duffy said.
Amber Alert Issued for 2 Missing Children in Western Michigan
(WJBK) - Police in western Michigan have issued an Amber Alert for two missing children. Vernon Lee-Tadd Williams and Kamden Karis Lee are believed to be in extreme danger.
Police believe he was taken by his father, 28-year-old Vernon Lee Williams , in the Wyoming area just southwest of Grand Rapids.
The boy is a black male, 3-feet tall and weighing 32 pounds with a mark on the left side of his forehead. The girl is said to be 2-feet tall and weighing 28 pounds.
The suspect is described as a black male, 5-foot, 6 inches tall, weighing 170 pounds with a tattoo on his neck. He was last seen driving a green Chrysler Sebring.
Anyone with information is asked to call 911.
Bill will license massage parlors in city
April 19, 2011
by Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Joined by residents already working to stamp out sex trafficking, two Pittsburgh City Council members Monday unveiled legislation to eradicate massage parlors that they say force women into prostitution.
The legislation, sponsored by Doug Shields and Natalia Rudiak, would require annual licensing of the massage parlors. Applicants would have to provide character references and detailed information about their owners, including photographs and fingerprints.
Individual employees also would have to be licensed and provide character references, proof of age, a photo and fingerprints. Licenses would be denied to anyone with a record of prostitution or similar offenses.
The initial licensing fee for each business and employee would be $100, and renewals would cost $50.
Mr. Shields said the bill is designed to eradicate a "despicable trade" that involves kidnapping of women overseas and their impressment in U.S. cities.
"This is a story that needs to be told," he said.
Ms. Rudiak said the sex trafficking is occurring "in many cases within blocks of our homes, within blocks of our schools."
Brenda Schuck, a Downtown resident and president of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association, declined comment, except to say the state already licenses massage therapists.
Proponents said the legislation will place no burdens on legitimate massage businesses.
Jessica Dickinson Goodman, a Carnegie Mellon University student, has helped to identify 15 massage parlors in the city and seven in the suburbs that she believes are fronts for brothels that may be employing sex slaves. Her findings are based largely on customers' graphic Internet postings about the business and their employees.
Such operations often hold women against their will, pay them next to nothing and force them to have sex with as many as 10 men a day, said Ms. Dickinson Goodman, a former fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Polaris Project, which works to combat human trafficking.
The Pittsburgh-based Project to End Human Trafficking and the Path to Justice, a coalition of local nuns, offered its support. "This issue shows contempt for the inherent dignity of persons and exploits especially those living in poverty," Sister Jeanette Bussen, a Sister of St. Joseph, said.
Holly Bobo Reward Tripled by Tennessee Governor to $75,000
Cops Believe the Student's Kidnapper Lives in the Area
by LINSEY DAVIS, RUSSELL GOLDMAN and JESSICA HOPPER
April 18, 2011
(Video on site)
The governor of Tennessee today tripled the reward to $75,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever abducted missing Tennessee woman Holly Bobo , who was snatched from her home and led into the woods by a shadowy stranger five days ago.
Gov. Bill Haslam approved a $50,000 reward from the state, in addition to a $25,000 reward already offered by Bobo's community.
Investigators believe Bobo's abductor lives in or near the 20-year-old college student's town of Parsons, Tenn., and have asked her neighbors to report any unusual activity or a break in peoples' routine those noticed in recent days.
"The person responsible for Holly's disappearance lives in the area," said Mark Gwyn, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. "Because of the terrain, you have to know where you're going, entrances and exits. We feel the person is in the community. We're asking the community if you know someone who has changed their routine, please let us know."
Gwyn said signs of suspicious activity include calling in sick to work over the past week, excessively cleaning a car or all-terrain vehicle, or unexpectedly selling a vehicle.
He said there is no person of interest in the case, but said police are following more than 250 leads.
Police have collected several pieces of evidence in the woods near Bobo's home, but Gwyn said it could be days before those objects could be analyzed and positively linked to Bobo.
In the meantime, the only evidence police have found and made public were Bobo's lunch purse and some blood.
Gwyn said it is possible Bobo's abductor led the woman to a vehicle left on a road, accessible through the woods, and drove away.
He said investigators still believe Bobo is in the state, but the FBI would get involved if there was evidence to suggest otherwise.
The search for Bobo entered a fifth day Monday, with police interviewing neighbors, boats searching local waterways and volunteers extending their search of the Natchez Trace, a national hiking trail.
Among those helping to search for Holly is her cousin, Whitney Duncan, a country music singer who today made a tearful plea today for the nursing student's safe return.
"We just want her back. If anybody knows anything... any details, anything weird that they've seen that might possibly lead to finding her, I hope they come forward with that," Duncan said on "Good Morning America."
Duncan said that she and her family members have been unable to sleep since last Wednesday when Bobo's 25-year-old brother saw a man dressed in camouflage lead Bobo into the woods. Bobo's brother wasn't alarmed until he spotted blood in the driveway.
"The family right now is trying to be strong... it doesn't seem real. That's the last phone call we ever expect to get... It's a close family, so we're just trying to hold it together," Duncan said.
Duncan described her missing cousin as a homebody and said that she and Bobo are as close as sisters.
"Holly is, she is beautiful, she is sweet, she is a good Christian girl...kind of shy, quiet until you get to know her. She is funny and sweet and amazing," Duncan said through tears.
Prayer and the tight knit community of Parsons are the only things getting the family through this tough time, Duncan said.
"This community has been amazing. It makes us feel great that people out there care... Trying to find her and bring her home," Duncan said. adsonar_placementId=1280488;adsonar_pid=43749;adsonar_ps=-1;adsonar_zw=165;adsonar_zh=220;adsonar_jv='ads.adsonar.com';
More than a thousand people have volunteered to help search the dense woods for any sign of Bobo.
Investigators have not ruled anyone out as a suspect in Bobo's disappearance and are in the midst of analyzing key evidence, although police had earlier said that Bobo's brother and boyfriend are not suspects.
"We have over 250 leads that we're running...the next analysis of a piece of evidence could be a key in solving this particular incident," Gwyn said. "I can tell you that we have not eliminated anyone from this case."
Some of that key evidence includes the 20-year-old nursing student's lunch box found miles from her home. The other evidence being analyzed was found in the woman's driveway and includes blood on the ground and duct tape with blond hair stuck to it.
"We're analyzing that evidence at the TBI [Tennessee Bureau of Investigation] crime lab as I speak and we're hoping...that we will come to conclusion pretty rapidly," Gwyn said.
Search for Holly Bobo: Police ask locals to think about past week & to search
PARSONS, Tennessee (Isabelle Zehnder reporting) -- Officials are asking community members to think about what they've seen or heard over the past week since nursing student Holly Bobo went missing from her home, and are asking for more volunteers to join in Monday's search.
Officials asked for 1,000 volunteers Sunday, they ended up with nearly 2,000.
Now they are asking the community to stop and think about anything they've seen or heard since Holly went missing Wednesday morning. Here's what they want people to think about, and to report to them:
- Has anyone you know missed an appointment or unexpectedly didn't show up for work?
- Is anyone you know showing signs of anxiety or stress?
- Do you know anyone who has changed their routine or suddenly left town unexpectedly this past week?
- Did you see or hear anything Wednesday morning that was out of the norm?
- Have you seen anyone excessively cleaning a vehicle, either a car, truck, or 4-wheeler?
- Do you know anyone who has tried to sell a vehicle recently?
- Do you remember someone with unusual behavior involving an ATV or other vehicle since Wednesday morning?
- The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is asking if residents of Decatur County have seen anyone excessively washing a vehicle, possibly trying to sell a vehicle.
The number to call with tips is (731) 852-3911.
The TBI said Sunday afternoon they've received more than 250 leads and that they've located items belonging to Holly other than her lunch box, though they did not say what those items were.
There have been reports of specific items found, but I will not report on those items until they are released from the TBI.
The TBI said Sunday that no one has been ruled out as a suspect, which conflicts with earlier reports that Holly's brother and boyfriend have been ruled out as suspects..
FOX News reported, “Bobo's brother and boyfriend were previously reported as not being suspects, but according to Helm, this has changed.”
All other news reports indicate Holly's brother and boyfriend were ruled out as suspects, which has led to confusion and further online rumors and speculation. I am attempting to confirm this information with authorities.
The TBI reported that the small amounts of blood found outside Holly's home are being tested.
Local news reporter Will Nunley tweeted this afternoon just after the 2 p.m. news conference that there are no plans to scale down the search any time soon, and said officials told him this is still a search and rescue mission.
Late Sunday afternoon a source tweeted that several waterway searches were viewed in progress, with dive teams being utilized.
The number of volunteers from two counties reached 1,419 late Sunday afternoon, a record for the 5-day search effort. An hour later Nunley reported the search organizer estimated a total of 2,000 people were believed to have been involved in the search effort Sunday. The official count of people who had registered to search was 1,535.
Natalee Holloway's Aunt Speaks About Holly Bobo Case
by Candace McCowan
April 18, 2011
"Their world has been turned upside down," said Linda Allison.
She says the disappearance of her niece, Natalie Holloway in 2005 has changed the way she looks at missing person's cases.
"Her family has probably seen information about missing people all the time but never imagined it would happen to them," said Allison.
Allison has been watching the Holly Bobo case very closely. It was May of 2005 when her 18 year old niece, Natalie Holloway, went missing during a graduation trip on the Caribbean island of Aruba. The Alabama teen has not been seen or heard from since.
The suspect in Holloway's case, Joran van der Sloot, is now jailed in Peru in connection with a separate murder.
Allison knows Bobo's parent's agony. That's why she is reaching out to Holly Bobo's family, in hopes of providing comfort. She hasn't gotten in touch with them yet.
"It's difficult times right now, the only things they can do is know that God is on their side," said Allison about what she would tell Bobo's parents.
She understands the hardest part for the family does not know where Holly is. Holloway's family is still looking for answers.
"Of course that all lies with Van der Sloot and if he would ever come clean and tell the truth, hopefully we would have some resolution to our case," said Allison.
Allison is praying for Bobo's family in hopes they will find answers and hopefully a happy ending.
As for Joran van der Sloot, he has yet to be tried in the Peru murder case.
Allison says there is a mound of evidence against him. She says Peru does not have a death penalty and the maximum sentence for murder is 35 years.
Holloway's family continues to spread the world about traveling safety. .
Texas House approves Amber Alert for mentally disabled adults
April 18, 2011
by Nathaniel Jones
A bill inspired by the death of a Mansfield woman that would allow police to issue an Amber Alert when mentally disabled adults go missing was passed by the Texas House last week.
House Bill 1075, sponsored by Reps. Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie, and Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, passed on Friday.
Amber Alerts are now issued only for children under age 17. A Silver Alert is issued for missing elderly people.
On Nov. 24, Tiffany Demus, 31, wandered away from her north Mansfield home, got lost and didn't have the mental capacity to ask for help. Her body was found five days later facedown in a creek in Webb Community Park in south Arlington, about four miles from her home.
"It just stunned me that we didn't have something in place," said Tamela Kelley, who was a member of the search team that looked for Demus. As the mother of an autistic 19-year-old woman, Kelley knows the struggles of the mentally disabled. "My daughter has a mind of a 5-year-old and a 9-year-old on her best day," she said.
The House bill has companion legislation in the Senate, filed by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.
The House bill passed through the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee last month after friends of Demus' testified in Austin about her death.
"I think about her all the time," said Michelle Mills, owner of Mary's House, a nonprofit adult rehabilitation center that Demus attended. "I keep telling myself that once this [bill] passes, no other family will have to go through this."
The bill is likely to win final passage in both chambers because there is no budgetary cost to the state associated with it, Anderson said.
"The infrastructure is already in place," he said. "This just sets another criteria for law enforcement to look at."
If passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry, the new criteria would take effect by Sept. 1.
The Amber Alert system, named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman of Arlington, is in its 15th year. Hagerman was abducted while riding her bike Jan. 13, 1996. Her body was found four days later in a creek.
More than 500 abducted children have been brought home safely because of the alerts, according to the Justice Department.
In Texas, a child must have been "unwillingly taken" without the permission of a parent or guardian for the alert to be issued.
Several witnesses saw Demus near the Mansfield and Arlington city limits but did not know she was lost. Authorities feared that Demus wouldn't or couldn't ask for help.
"It's too late for Tiffany, but I keep telling myself that hopefully no other family has to go through this," Mills said. "It has been so painful."
Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore Take Heat for Odd Sex Trafficking Ads
by Michael Flood McNulty
(Videos on the PSA's on site)
Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore have their heart in the right place. But their strange choice of media spots for their anti-sex trafficking ads has left some scratching their heads. Justin Timberlake shaving? Jamie Foxx using the remote?
One big: Huh?
Given the extreme severity of the issue, it's very odd how Kutcher and Moore chose to go "funny" for their "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" campaign instead of informative and serious. To make matters worse, they chose two ads that have absolutely nothing to do with sex trafficking. The audience is supposed to somehow guess what all this is supposed to mean.
Second-hand Store Benefits Victims of Sex Trafficking
by Ryan Schill
Apr 18, 2011
We all have closets full of old clothes that don't fit and houses filled with dust-collecting knick-knacks. Wellspring Living, through their upscale resale boutiques Wellspring Treasures, is turning those gently used items into help for victims of sexual abuse and trafficking.
Wellspring Living has been offering therapy and education to sexual abuse victims for ten years. Run almost entirely by volunteers, all proceeds from the three Wellspring Treasures stores benefit the women and girls involved with the programs.
“The women who come to the Wellspring Living house commit to 6 months or a year,” said volunteer Haley Welsh. After leaving the house, the women live with a family who help them transition into their own place.
All three Wellspring Treasures stores located in the metro Atlanta area accept donations six days a week.
Pacific children at risk of trafficking
Children in the Pacific region are vulnerable to sex tourism, cheap labour and illegal adoption but there's limited evidence of the extent of the problem.
A study released by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) says child trafficking in the Asian region is well-recognised but more information is needed about the Pacific.
"Little is known about the extent and nature of trafficking in the Pacific region," said AIC senior research analyst Jacqueline Joudo Larsen.
Ms Larsen said there was considerable knowledge and a growing response to trafficking and exploitation of children in Asia but the problem in the Pacific region needs to be researched further.
The study said South-East Asia had long been recognised as a significant source of trafficked persons, with the majority moving from less developed to more developed countries.
That includes children from Cambodia to Thailand for begging, girls from Vietnam and Burma to Cambodia and Thailand for sexual exploitation and girls from Laos to Thailand for domestic or factory work.
But Ms Larsen said very little was known of trafficking in the Pacific, a region characterised by a largely youthful population with almost 37 per cent under 15.
She said children in the region were susceptible to a range of criminal activities, including commercial sexual exploitation, sex tourism, labour exploitation, illegal adoption and customary marriage.
"The issues underpinning the vulnerability of children in the Pacific region include the low availability and high cost of education and lack of employment opportunities for young people, as well as risky cultural practices such as billeting, informal adoption and early marriage," she said.
Australia now has tough laws against child trafficking but there have been no prosecutions. However two cases of children trafficked into the sex industry have come to light, both predating sexual servitude laws.
In both cases, girls aged 12 and 13 were sold by theirparents in Thailand and forced to work in brothels in Australia. Both were discovered in routine immigration inspections, one after 10 days and the other after 15 years.
The girl found after 15 years later died in immigration detention of complications from heroin addiction and malnourishment. Three Thai nationals were subsequently jailed in Thailand for long periods.
Former hospital director sentenced to 10 years in child pornography case
EL PASO, Texas - The former director of case management at Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso was sentenced April 15 to 10 years in federal prison for receiving child pornography, following an investigation by special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Omar Jose Magaña, 39, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Philip Martinez to forfeit his home, valued at $152,605, to the government. Martinez also ordered that Magaña be placed under supervised release for 20 years after he completes his prison term. Magaña pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography on Feb. 1.
ICE HSI special agents assigned to the Cyber Crimes Group executed a search warrant at Magaña's residence in 7500 block of Plaza Taurina Drive on Oct.14. They seized a home computer, two laptops, and related computer and electronic media, cell phones and cameras. A subsequent forensic analysis of the hard drives from the computers revealed more than 100 videos and more than 1,800 image files depicting child pornography or children being sexual exploited.
In a separate unrelated child pornography case, on March 11, U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone sentenced Brandon Shawn Gray to 135 months (11 years and 3 months) in federal prison, and seven years of supervised release. Gray pleaded guilty in September 2010 to transporting visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct in interstate commerce. He was ordered to register as a sex offender.
Both cases were investigated by the El Paso Cyber Crimes Group under Operation Predator, an ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE . For more information, visit www.ice.gov.
Last Defendant Charged as a Result of HTRA Investigation of Local Bar Sentenced to Prison for Drug Dealing
HOUSTON—The last defendant charged as a result of a human trafficking investigation at a Houston area bar has been sentenced to prison for drug trafficking, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.
An investigation was conducted by members of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA) into reports that human trafficking involving prostitution and drug dealing were occurring at La Potra bar on the 6100 block of Airline in Houston. As a result, four Honduran nationals, Carlos Cabrera, 46, Wilson Sauzo, 29, Luis Urbina, 28, and Christian Javier Guzman-Flores, 21, were arrested in October 2009 and charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. A fifth defendant, Jose Martin Zavala-Acosta, 27, from Mexico, was charged with alien smuggling. Sauzo, Urbina, Guzman-Flores, and Zavala-Acosta each pleaded guilty to the offense charged. Cabrera, however, committed suicide while in federal custody pending federal charges for human trafficking.
Sauzo, the last of the four defendants charged and convicted as a result of the HTRA investigation into La Potra bar, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore to 37 months in federal prison without parole. Judge Gilmore previously sentenced Urbina to 14 months' imprisonment and Guzman-Flores to 37 months in federal prison for their drug dealing. Zavala-Acosta was sentence by U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt to 24 months in federal prison without parole for alien smuggling. Sauzo, Urbina and Guzman-Flores pleaded guilty to the drug charges in April 2010, while Zavala-Acosta pleaded guilty to alien smuggling in February 2010.
“Often, victims of human trafficking who are forced into prostitution or forced labor are also forced to endure living and working among alien smugglers and drug dealers,” said U.S. Attorney Moreno. “This case, in which five defendants were arrested for various criminal offenses, illustrates the dark world within which the human trafficking victims are forced to exist until rescued or until they can escape, but it also demonstrates our continued commitment to rescue the victims and to prosecute not only the human trafficker but other offenders as well.”
The investigation of the La Potra bar leading to the various charges against these defendants was conducted by the following HTRA member agencies: Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff's Office, and the FBI. Assistant United States Attorneys Ruben R. Perez and Joe Magliolo prosecuted the case.
Match.com will screen users against sex offender database
April 17, 2011
Several days after an L.A. woman filed suit against Match.com claiming she was attacked by a man she met on the dating site, company officials announced Sunday they would begin crossing-checking users against sex offender databases.
The company released a statement to the Associated Press on Sunday night announcing the change. The statement said Match.com in the past had not screened users against a national sex offender database over fears that such checks would be flawed and could give a false sense of security. Officials said they remain concerned about how accurate the checks would be.
The statement did not make any connection between the move and the lawsuit filed last week.
Attorney Mark L. Webb, who represents the woman identified in the lawsuit only as "Jane Doe," told The Times last week he will ask a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge for a temporary injunction barring the site from signing up more members until his client's demands are met. He said his client wants the site to screen members to determine if they are sexual predators.
"They are a very powerful and successful online dating service, and they have the means to do this," Webb said.
Webb described his client as an Ivy League graduate who works in film and television.
Search for Holly Bobo: Search for Holly ‘nothing short of amazing' continues
April 17, 2011
PARSONS, Tennessee -- The search for the abducted 20-year-old nursing student, Holly Bobo, continues Sunday and is nothing short of amazing.
by Isabelle Zehnder
As a National Missing Persons news writer who has covered a great number of missing person's cases, this is by far the largest search effort between police and community that I've covered.
Friday the Decatur County Sheriff's Department told me some 1,500 volunteers came together to search for Holly.
Keep in mind Parsons is a very small town with a small police department.
Despite their size, over the past several days we have seen a community with a huge amount of organization, dedication, compassion, and determination.
“We have a lot of ground to cover,” police say.
It was reported that over 1,000 volunteers came out to search for Holly Saturday.
Police say they still need volunteers to come out and help in the search Sunday.
Officials told the crowd Saturday: “Just look for recent things. We think she's leaving a trail …” “The trail is still warm …”
They're asking searchers to look for women's things such as a purse, cell phone, books, backpack, hairbrush – anything a student might have with her as she was ready to head off to school.
People who own property – be sure that even if you are out searching with the group that your own property is searched for clues.
They're asking people to bring their horse, their ATVs, wear comfortable shoes or boots, and dress in layers. Be ready to walk long distances, this is by far not easy.
People in the community have donated not only their time, but have helped provide food and water for searchers. Some people have even been sleeping at the fairgrounds so they can be up and ready when day breaks.
Local news reporter Will Nunley said Saturday, “I am impressed with the amount of young people here. I dare say a majority of these volunteers are under the age of 25.”
Nunley has kept his community aware by continually updating them on Twitter.
Legislation targets sex trade in Pittsburgh
Bill requires massage parlors, their employees to be licensed
April 18, 2011
by Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Fearing a problem well publicized in other cities has spread to Pittsburgh, City Councilman Doug Shields today will unveil legislation targeting massage parlors that he believes are actually brothels trafficking in sex slaves.
Mr. Shields' bill would require annual licensing of massage parlors and their employees. He said he wants to know who owns the establishments, who's employed in them and whether the businesses pay payroll taxes.
He said the bill would put the businesses on the city's radar -- and put the owners on notice.
"Bad guys don't like it when there's a flashlight, a spotlight, shining on them," he said, acknowledging the legislation is similar to a licensing bill he pushed through last year to discourage abuses by tow truck companies.
Local university students are part of a new organization, the Pittsburgh-based Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition, that's pushing for the legislation.
"I want to regulate sex trafficking out of Pittsburgh," said Jessica Richardson Goodman, a Carnegie Mellon University student who became acquainted with the national dimensions of the issue last year as a fellow for the Polaris Project, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that works to combat human trafficking and slavery.
Since then, she and other coalition members identified 15 massage parlors in Pittsburgh and seven in the suburbs that they believe are fronts for prostitution and, possibly, trafficking. They compiled the list based on language in the businesses' advertisements and on explicit messages about the businesses that men posted on Internet "johns boards."
City police could not be reached for comment.
The Polaris Project calls massage parlors a worrisome source of prostitution and trafficking, with young Asian women held against their will and forced to have sex with as many as 10 men a day.
Mr. Shields said the women may have been kidnapped, or promised a better life in America, only to be forced into prostitution after they arrived here. He said the women are "hidden away right under our noses."
"Prostitution, while some people may see it as a victimless crime, is a crime that's attached to all sorts of things," Mr. Shields said, citing money laundering, loan-sharking and extortion. Recalling embarrassing days when Liberty Avenue was "wide open for business," he said he wants to arrest any problem with massage parlors.
During a news conference today, Mr. Shields plans to unveil the legislation, and Ms. Richardson Goodman will give an overview of the problem and offer tips for recognizing trafficking.
"Nosy neighbors are the real heroes of this issue," she said.
Councilman Bruce Kraus, who represents the South Side and Hilltop neighborhoods, said three massage parlors opened in his district over the past year and a half. He said he reported them to the police department's vice officers.
Mr. Kraus said he had not seen Mr. Shields' bill but was inclined to support new regulations of massage parlors.
(Video on site)
Police: Rape Suspect Lurked At Playground For Weeks
Parents were shocked to hear that the man who admitted to raping an 8-year-old girl took pictures of children at a playground.
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- A Federal Way man who admitted to raping an 8-year-old girl this week took pictures of children at a local playground for weeks, police said Friday.
Parents were shocked when they discovered Benjamin Trinh, 28, had several photos of unidentified children at the Olympic View Elementary playground, leading to the kidnapping and rape of an 8-year-old student.
"It is very strange that we never saw him," Elizabeth Rodgers, who lives near playground, told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News. "Very strange."
Trinh told police he took pictures of "lots of kids, making friends with them for weeks" before the kidnap and rape. Police said Trinh had handcuffs and a gun at his home, as well as a photo of his victim's 10-year-old sister among the hundreds of photos of children on his camera, according to court documents obtained Friday by KIRO 7.
Trinh was arrested Tuesday after an employee at a Federal Way Target store received an Amber Alert on a mobile app and reported seeing a man fitting his description and the girl in the store. He was booked on charges of luring, kidnapping and child rape.
During a search of Trinh's home, police said they found handcuffs, tape and a handgun in his car, as well as child pornography on his computer and a photo of Trinh with his victim's 10-year-old sister, according to probable cause documents.
Trinh later admitted to raping the 8-year-old girl.
Police said Trinh told them about meeting several other children at the playground, but it wasn't clear if Trinh had any contact with them.
Police began looking for the girl at about 7 p.m. on Tuesday. The girl's mother said her daughter was playing at the playground at Olympic View Elementary School on Southwest 327th Street in Federal Way at 6:30 p.m.
Witnesses told police a man by the name of Ben was also at the park about the time the girl disappeared. According to the documents, Trinh dropped the girl off near her home after raping her. The alert was canceled when the girl walked up to her home several hours later.
Anti-Sex Trade Turns to Focus on Men Who Buy Sex
A legal shift in looking at the men who pay for sex is a new focus for anti-sex trafficking activists. The strategy has led to changes in state legislation and educational programs at a growing number of "john schools."
by Alizah Salario
April 18, 2011
(WOMENSENEWS)--When Marian Hatcher speaks to men who pay for sex, she tells them about the guy who used her as his punching bag for hours on end, long after she became bruised and bloodied.
"All he wanted to do was hit me," said Hatcher.
A college degree and 17 years of working in a corporate job didn't make Hatcher immune to the perils of sex trafficking after an abusive marriage led her to drugs and eventually to prostitution.
"Suddenly I didn't even know who I was," she said. "My story proves that it could happen to anyone."
Now an executive assistant to Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart in the Women's Justice Program in Chicago, Hatcher is dedicated to shifting the punishment for sex trafficking from suppliers to buyers, or "johns."
"Historically, the supplier has been the one punitively handled in the criminal justice system and the john would just get a slap on the wrist," said Hatcher.
That began to change when the first school for johns, know as the First Offender Prostitution Program, opened in San Francisco in the mid-1990s.
Today, approximately 40 john schools serving 50 communities exist nationwide. Though "john school" is the generic term for educational programs for men who engage in transactional sex, each course has its own formal title, such as Chicago's Ammend Program.
By educating men on the consequences of soliciting sex--both for themselves and for sex workers--advocates say these programs raise awareness on the ramifications of sex trafficking and reduce recidivism. The reason behind educating men who pay for sex, says Hatcher, is simple: if there were no customers, there'd be no prostitution.
Judge Weighs Options
In Illinois, men who are arrested for soliciting sex must pay a fine of as much as $1000. It's up to the judge to determine if men will be given the option to attend a day-long john school course and then pay a smaller fine. If they do attend the course, the arrest is expunged from their record, according Rachel Durchslag, executive director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation.
The courses don't have their own dedicated buildings and usually take place in multi-use spaces. Education varies across the country, but the core curriculum consists of information about the health and legal consequences of prostitution, the dynamics of pimping and the effects on families and communities. Survivor testimonies also figure significantly.
"You have to personalize it," said Hatcher, who always reminds men who engage in transactional sex that she could be their sister or daughter.
Legislation is also driving the shift toward combating the demand side of prostitution.
Illinois is among a handful of states with a "safe harbor" law that protects underage sex workers from legal consequences.
In Texas, the state legislature voted last month to make it a felony to force children into prostitution and to require anyone convicted of sex trafficking to register as a sex offender. The Georgia House recently voted in favor of higher fines and longer sentences for pimps and johns.
Education at john schools has also evolved, and some locations have started to focus on why men solicit prostitutes in the first place.
"What we're seeing now is this idea of looking at constructs of masculinity," said Durchslag.
She said the schools are debunking myths linking prostitution and manliness and the fantasy notion that a "real man can have sex with beautiful woman anytime he wants."
Durchslag also noted that john schools are educating men on why most women enter prostitution. Many have limited resources and substance abuses issues, and johns perpetuate sex work as a means of supporting their habits as long as they're waiting with their wallets.
"Maybe they're not a physically violent john, but they're helping a violent industry," she said. "John schools look at it [prostitution] as a male demand-driven power relationship."
Many Victims of Violence
A 2002 study published by the Center for Impact Research in Chicago found that of 222 women involved in various facets of Chicago's prostitution industry, the vast majority were victims of some form of violence. Almost 80 percent of women on the streets reported being threatened with a weapon at least one time and half of the women working in escort services had been raped.
"Women don't wake up when they're 7 years old and go to school and tell the teacher, 'I want to be a commercial sex worker,'" said Hatcher. "By and large, most women don't want that to be their lifestyle."
The reality is that most women enter prostitution as minors. Many flee chaotic families and find themselves "cared for" by a pimp. Girls enter prostitution at an average age of 12 and pimps and johns often "count on [them] being broken," said Hatcher. Nationwide, 100,000 children who leave their homes each year are sexually exploited, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
"I'm an anomaly. I had a degree. I had a supportive family. It was easier for me to stabilize when I finished our program," said Hatcher. "The norm is these women enter as children. This is all they know."
Hatcher insisted that education combined with legal consequences is the key to combating sex trafficking.
In a survey of 113 Chicago men conduced by Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, 87 percent said that seeing their photo or name appear in a local paper would serve as a deterrent from buying sex, while only 41 percent said that being required to attend a johns course would do the same.
Focusing on the demand side of sex trafficking illustrates why it isn't just a legal or economic problem, but a human rights issue as well. For Hatcher, one of the most important aspects of john schools is that they teach men how all women deserve to be treated.
"They are all supposed to be treated like human beings," she said.
Alizah Salario is a freelance journalist living in New York. Her work has appeared in The Daily Beast, Ms. Magazine, at the Poetry Foundation and elsewhere. She blogs at www.alizahsalario.com