High School Cheerleader Kicked Off Squad for Refusal to Cheer for Her Rapist

Rah, rah, sis boom bah: Silsbee High School in Texas wants their cheerleaders smiling, energetic, and willing to cheer for their rapists by name. Go team!

H.S., a Silsbee student, reported being raped in 2008 by Rakheem Bolton, a fellow student and athletic star, with the help of two of his friends. In the end, Bolton recently ended up getting off without serving any jail time by pleading guilty to a lesser assault charge, spending two years on probation, doing community service, paying a fine, and attending anger management courses. Hardly seems like an adequate punishment, but it’s unfortunately not uncommon for attackers to bargain down their charges. What really gets the blood boiling is how the students’ high school treated the victim when the rape charge was levied.

Bolton was set to be on the school’s varsity basketball team, and they couldn’t risk losing by barring him from playing for a silly thing like a rape charge. That could impact their chances at winning. Who cares about the traumatic impact it would have an a cheerleader who needed to vocally support a team including her rapist?

But H.S. fulfilled her role as a cheerleader, participating in all the cheers for the team as a group. She simply refused to shout the first name of the man who assaulted her when he stood up alone to make free throws. It seems like she was being more than accommodating, when an student athlete facing trial on rape charges most likely should have been suspended from the team, even if his presence wasn’t a source of immediate distress to his victim in her position as cheerleader. In a display of extreme disrespect for a rape survivor and disregard for her well-being, school officials insisted that H.S. had to scream “Rakheem” with the rest of the cheerleaders, or she’d be kicked off the squad.

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Published in: on October 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm  Comments (2)  
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Man Found Not Guilty of Sex Trafficking Charges

LARGO | A man charged in a high-profile human trafficking case was found not guilty of all charges late Thursday night.

Colin Anthony Dyer shouted “We won!” as he left the courtroom shortly after 11 p.m. He was set to be released from the Pinellas County Jail later in the night. Had he been convicted, Dyer would have faced as much as 60 years in prison.

“Obviously we’re very sad for these very brave girls that had to go through this,” Assistant State Attorney Della Connolly said. “We’re just very disappointed.”

Defense attorney Bryant Camareno, who said in his opening statement that the case would come down to the credibility of the state’s witnesses, said he believed that issue was what led to Dyer’s acquittal.

He said Dyer’s accusers “felt the need to embellish, and as a result, it tainted their credibility.”

For three days, jurors had heard testimony from witnesses who described a sex trafficking ring in which young women worked as dancers and prostitutes inside the Vegas Showgirls strip club near St. Petersburg.

One of the women said Dyer raped her as he helped hold her captive in an apartment, a charge that could have carried a 30-year prison sentence if he was convicted.

On Thursday afternoon, the jury heard from Dyer, who took the stand and declared: “I am an innocent man.”

The purported human trafficking organization was set up by a man named Kenyatta Cornelous, several witnesses said this week. Cornelous, who is awaiting his own trial, was described as a ruthless enforcer who used beatings, threats, sexual abuse and other punishments to keep dancers in line and for those who did not earn enough money.

Dyer served as a kind of branch manager for the organization, prosecutors said. They said he drove women to the club, where they were required to perform sex acts for paying customers inside private “VIP rooms.” He also collected their money.

“He knew money changed hands. He knew the girls were getting beat. He knew there was sexual favors. He knew there was prostitution. He knew what was going on,” Assistant State Attorney Kelly McKnight said.

One exotic dancer said Dyer and Cornelous urged her to move from a different strip club by promising her “a better life in a better club.” By switching to their group and dancing at Vegas Showgirls, she said, “I was promised going out on trips, vacations, put through school, a real good time.”

Instead, she said, breaking down in tears, “I had to dance and perform sexual favors to guys.” The 28-year-old dancer, who is not being named because of the nature of the allegations, said she was intimidated by the group into performing the sex acts.

But Dyer told a much different story when he took the witness stand Thursday. He said he met Cornelous while working as a bouncer at a club called Bottoms Up and was hired merely to run a food truck. In fact, even some of the prosecution witnesses said he had spent time working on preparing the food truck for a blues festival in Orlando.

“I am innocent of any of these allegations,” Dyer said.

Dyer said he had a falling out with Cornelous over money and moved to Orlando, but he was shocked weeks later to learn via television news that he was a wanted man in connection with a human trafficking case. He said he drove to Pinellas County and spoke to a sheriff’s detective to try to clear his name.

But his comments in that interview became potential evidence against him because he described driving the women to and from the strip club. .

But during his testimony on Thursday, Dyer denied driving the women anywhere and seemed flustered when Connolly, the prosecutor, showed him the interview in which he said he did.

Connolly suggested a reason that his story changed: By the time of the trial, he had learned that transporting workers to and from forced labor is against Florida’s anti-human trafficking law.

As to the rape allegation, Dyer on Thursday denied any kind of “physicality” against his accuser.

“This is something that this lady has grabbed out of the air,” he said.

Jurors took more than four hours to reach their verdict.

source: http://www.theledger.com/article/20100610/NEWS/100619966?p=all&tc=pgall

Media FAIL: The Lawrence Taylor Arrest and Human Trafficking Awareness

A week after Lawrence Taylor was arrested and charged with third-degree rape and solicitation of a 16-year-old prostitute, we know it’s possible the girl was told to lie about her age to the NFL Hall-of-Famer and say she was 19. We know she was picked up by her uncle with a black eye and other bruises. And we know that her pimp, Rasheed Davis, who has been accused of beating and drugging the girl before ordering her to have sex with Taylor at his hotel, was charged with sex trafficking of a minor. But as women’s issues writer Marcia G. Yerman points out in The Huffington Post, the media’s treatment of this story has done little to advance awareness of human trafficking.

It’s all in the framing: Rather than call Davis a sex trafficker, the press has mainly referred to him as the “girl’s pimp.” The girl herself has also been labeled a “teen hooker.” But third-degree rape, a felony in New York State, is applied to cases where the adult is over age 21 and the minor is under 17. And federal law classifies underage girls who are sold for sex as trafficking victims. So how come the media hasn’t emphasized that very term, victim?

Instead, the focus of this story has fallen on Taylor’s fluctuating celebrity and notoriety, with frequent mentions of his past drug use, his football legacy, and his stint on Dancing With the Stars. The latest news debates whether he and the trafficked teen actually had sex, and how this could affect his case in court. All the “important” stuff.

Lost in the hype is human trafficking as an issue in the United States. The “teen hooker” at the center of this story could have instead been labeled justly and connected to the larger picture of runaways who are targeted within hours by traffickers. The specific vulnerability of runaways and the coercive tactics used to lure them into prostitution could have been emphasized. And so much speculation into the life and times of the football hero could have been saved for gossip magazines.

The content of the news seems to be determined by both news suppliers and consumers, based on what sells, but should it be? Isn’t news media supposed to provide a public service? A celebrity’s involvement in a human trafficking case catches a whole lot more notice than the story of an average john, and it’s excellent opportunity to educate a mainstream audience. But disregarding the potential victim in this story and the larger social issue doesn’t change or productively inform the public’s perception of human trafficking, Unfortunate, because in the fight against human trafficking, the news media could — and should — be an important player.

Photo credit: tedkerwin

source: http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/media_fail_the_lawrence_taylor_arrest_and_human_trafficking_awareness

Charita Goshay: Enshrinee’s arrest exposes an ongoing travesty

Once a year, Canton becomes Football Nirvana as thousands of Cheese Heads, Hogs and Dawgs descend on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s enshrinement celebration.

The enshrinees always seem genuinely touched that so much effort would be put into honoring them. It’s one of the few times you’ll get to see a grown man cry.

But every now and then, a story will seep out about a visiting former player who’s, shall we say, less than gracious to fans who plunked down $75 to shiver in some frostbitten stadium to cheer him on.

Because of Lawrence Taylor’s reputation as a womanizing drug fiend and all-purpose hell-raiser, the Hall of Fame considered adding a morals clause as a condition of induction.

However, the few times the New York Giants enshrinee has been in town, he was generally friendly and accommodating to those in the cheap seats.

Taylor seemed to have pulled his life together in retirement. In a 2003 “60 Minutes” interview, he said he had found sobriety and salvation in golf.

Obviously, that isn’t the case. Upon his arrest last week on rape charges, the married Taylor told investigators he had paid $300 to have sex with what turned out to be a underage prostitute.

He claimed he was told she was 19, not 16.

But that isn’t really the point, is it?

THE BIGGER STORY

However, Taylor’s arrest must not be allowed to subvert the bigger story, namely that a 16-year-old girl was bought and sold like a slab of meat.

It is not simply another case of another celebrity in trouble. It is the travesty of human trafficking, hiding in plain sight.

The story is that there are adults who see nothing wrong in trafficking a child for sex and, worse, there are adults willing to pay for it.

It happens here, too. The Trafficking in Persons Study Commission notes that of the estimated 1,800 people trafficked into Ohio every year for sex and cheap labor, 1,000 are children.

Another 2,800 kids are lured into prostitution, such as the teenage runaway in Taylor’s case, who likely was forced into the trade, as evidenced by the bruises on her face.

Despite a new state law that increases the criminal penalties for trafficking, make no mistake: Child-sex trafficking remains in business. In March, a 17-year-old was found working as a dancer and prostitute in an Akron strip club.

But you don’t even have to look that far.

The next time you see a young girl strolling through the Newton Zone, or loitering outside some dive when it’s clear she’s too young to be there, think twice before you disparage her. She may be a hostage to a so-called “victimless” crime.

MATTHEW HERTTNA

A story I wrote last week about the St. Dymphna National Shrine in Massillon neglected to mention its founding chaplain, the Rev. Matthew Herttna, who died in 2006.

Located on the campus of Heartland Behavioral Healthcare, the shrine will celebrate its 72nd anniversary at 3 p.m. Saturday. St. Dymphna is the patron saint of people who suffer from mental and emotional distress.

source:  http://www.cantonrep.com/opinion/columnists/x289811066/Charita-Goshay-Enshrinee-s-arrest-exposes-an-ongoing-travesty

for educational purposes only

Freedom for the Weekend: Men Can Stop Rape

Well, it’s Friday afternoon, and that means the weekend is almost here! W00t! Perhaps you’re reading this blog because you’re bored at work or school and you’re thinking about what you want to do this weekend. How about spending part of your weekend fighting slavery? Each week I’ll profile a different anti-trafficking nonprofit who you can connect with to help free slaves and prevent slavery around the world. So, spend a couple hours this weekend getting to know this nonprofit through their website, and then get involved!

This Week’s Profile: Men Can Stop Rape

The Bottom Line: Men Can Stop Rape mobilizes men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women. MCSR provides agencies, schools, and organizations with direct services for youth, public service messaging, and leadership training.

What They Do: They primarily focus on creating public awareness campaigns, like the Strength Campaign, and hosting trainings on issues like respect for women, active consent, and healthy relationships. Their work focuses on sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking.

What Can I Do?: If you’re a man, you can join a local Men of Strength club to participate in their workshops. Or, you can donate to support their work online.  You can also sign up for their e-newsletter to continue to educate yourself about violence against women issues.

Why They Rock: They’ve worked with the U.S. military taking on a daunting task — to reform military culture into one where rape, sexual assault, and violence against women are not tolerated in the slightest.

So now that you’ve got some basic information on Men Can Stop Rape, visit their website this weekend and get involved. And on Monday morning when everyone else is talking about sleeping in and watching TV over the weekend, you can say, “What did I do this weekend? Oh, just the usual — abolition of slavery.”

Do you have a favorite nonprofit you’d like to see featured here? If so, let me know!

Photo credit: DeusXFlorida

source:  http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/freedom_for_the_weekend_men_can_stop_rape_2

Published in: on March 20, 2010 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced : the title of the book says it all. The book is the autobiography of Nujood Ali, a Yemeni third grader, divorcee, international human rights activist, and winner of Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year award. That’s a pretty impressive resume for someone who is still years away from a driver’s license. But if there is one thing Nujood has proved in her life, it’s that she’s not your average kid.

When Nujood was merely 10 years old, well before the age of puberty, her family forced her to marry a man in his 30s. At her wedding, Nujood sobbed in the corner,forced of what would happen to her and miserable at the thought of leaving her family to live with a stranger. The wedding night was even worse. Despite a promise that Nujood’s husband made to her father not to have sex with her until she started menstruating, he forced himself on her the very first night they were married. After that, he forced her to drop out of school. He also began physically and emotionally abusing her regularly, and it wasn’t too long before Nujood had had enough.

She had heard about divorce, and had heard that judges were the ones with the ability to grant a divorce. So with little idea of where she was going, she snuck away from her husband, jumped into the back of a taxi, and asked to be driven to the nearest courthouse. Once there, she demanded to speak to a judge — any judge. When one finally emerged, imagine his surprise to see a tiny, determined child standing before him firmly stating, “I want a divorce!”

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Sex workers are not criminals

Women working in the sex trade need protection, not prosecution – which is why soliciting should be decriminalised

While Thierry is a sex-worker activist and Cath is an anti-prostitution one, believe it or not we do have some common ground: both of us are trade unionists, for instance, and both of us identify as feminists.

Obviously our analyses on prostitution/sex work are also very different. But despite our different opinions, there’s one thing we do agree on: sex workers shouldn’t be criminalised.

In fact pretty much all of those involved in the sex worker/prostitution debate agree with the repeal of soliciting laws, but because we’re usually too engrossed in fighting with each other, so far we haven’t managed to reach any consensus. And while we’ve all been way too busy arguing over other things, those most in need of our help, those for whose sake this repression needs to end, continue to suffer violence as a result.

Laws on soliciting are unfair because they target street sex workers/prostitutes who are often the most vulnerable. Consequently, it makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for sex workers/prostitutes to report the crimes they suffer and to get rid of pimps. In some cases, we’ve even heard testimonies of women who’ve had to give freebies to police officers to avoid their arrest. This is rape.

We believe the criminalisation of sex workers/prostitutes helps to legitimise those who attack them. People have to stop seeing sex workers as offenders, who they can exclude, discriminate against, or abuse. Indeed, we believe that if sex workers/prostitutes had the protection of the police instead of being harassed, crimes such as the murders in Ipswich in 2006 wouldn’t have been committed so easily.

Criminalisation of soliciting is a sexist law and it’s one that concerns all women, because any woman who goes out at night without being accompanied by a man can be suspected of soliciting. All women should have the right to occupy public and nocturnal spaces, legally, and without fear of harassment or violence.

Criminalisation of soliciting is also racist. It’s frequently used, for example, to arrest migrant sex workers/prostitutes and deport them. Victims of trafficking deserve our protection; they should have the legal right to choose to live in the UK for as long as they want, and they should not face deportation back to countries where they run the risk of being re-trafficked by those who trafficked them here in the first place.

Soliciting shouldn’t be an offence and it shouldn’t be classified as antisocial behaviour. If society doesn’t want sex workers/prostitutes working on the streets, then measures should be taken to provide those who are at risk of sexual exploitation with better economic options, routes out or professional reorientation, and harm-reduction help when they suffer drug and other addictions. Repression is never a solution: it only pushes those who are among the most vulnerable away into more remote and dangerous areas.

So, in the run-up to the election, we’re calling on all political parties and on the current government to put an end to the criminalisation of soliciting. In Cath’s view, this should go hand in hand with the further criminalisation of those who purchase sex, an idea which Thierry completely opposes, but on this one issue at least, we’re both in complete accord.

source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/08/women-sex-workers-decriminalise-soliciting

For Child Domestic Servants, Work Is Life

Wanted: Domestic worker. Must be willing to cook, clean, work with garbage, and do all other chores as assigned. No contract available, payment based on employer’s mood or current financial situation. No days off. Violence, rape, and sexual harassment may be part of the job.

Would you take that job? No way. But for thousands of child domestic workers in Indonesia, this ad doesn’t just describe their job, it describes their life.

A recent CARE International survey of over 200 child domestic workers in Indonesia found that 90% of them didn’t have a contract with their employer, and thus no way to legally guarantee them a fair wage (or any wage at all) for their work. 65% of them had never had a day off in their whole employment, and 12% had experienced violence. Child domestic workers remain one of the most vulnerable populations to human trafficking and exploitation. And while work and life may look a little grim for the kids who answered CARE’s survey, it’s likely that the most abused and exploited domestic workers didn’t even have the opportunity to take the survey.

In part, child domestic workers have it so much harder than adults because the people who hire children are more likely looking for someone easy to exploit. Think about it — if you wanted to hire a domestic worker, wouldn’t you choose an adult with a stronger body and more life experience to lift and haul and cook than a kid? If you could get them both for the same price, of course you would. But what if the kid was cheaper, free even, because you knew she wouldn’t try and leave if you stopped paying her. Or even if you threatened her with death.

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There is More Out There Than Junction City

There is so much that goes on in the world that we don’t know about. There are things that happen in this country we don’t know, let alone in other countries. Sometimes the things we don’t know are the most important: that thousands of people are dying from simple diseases, that in some wars rape is the most powerful weapon, or that sex trafficking is still a common practice. I feel as a nation we have been covering our ears to the pleas of help from the rest of the world for too long. We look away because it doesn’t fit into our neat little box of civilization. The moment we turn our backs is the moment that we have lost all of our humanity.
The Second Congo War, known as Africa’s World War, started in August 1998 and officially ended in July 2003.  By 2008 the war, and its aftermath, had killed over 5.4 million people, causing it to be the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II. It’s estimated that 1,000 people died daily from disease and   malnutrition.
Every thing is estimated because their government has no real knowledge of how many people their was before the war, or after.
The African World War killed 5.4 Million People
As one war in Africa was ending another was beginning in Darfur, Sudan. The U.N. has estimated that at least 450,000 people have been killed. The United Sates has noted this conflict as genocide while the U.N. still has not. The dictionary’s definition of genocide is the systematic killing of all the people from a national, ethnic, or religious group, or an attempt to do this.  In 2008 the International Criminal Court filed ten charges of war crimes against Sudan’s president, which include Genocide, crimes against humanity and murder. 51 international peacekeepers have also been killed.
The United States State Department estimates that between 50,000 to 100,000 women and girls are trafficked, or brought here to be slaves, each year in the United States. What
happens to these girls here and around the world is horrible. In Thailand, the Health System Research Institute reports that child prostitution makes up 40% of the prostitutes.  Sex Trafficking happens all over the world. It’s not limited to certain places or certain people. In Greece it is estimated that there are between 13,000 and 14,000 trafficking victims in the country at any given time.
There is also a practice called bride kidnapping, also known as marriage by abduction. It happens mostly through the Central Asia and the Caucasus Mountains. It has stricken so much fear into local girls that it is one of the main reasons for lower participation in school. One of the main places for bride kidnapping is in Kyrgyzstan where studies have found that half of all Kyrgz marriages include bride kidnapping and, of those, two-thirds are non-consensual. The man, or hisparents, decides that he needs to settle down and decide that they have found the right woman for him to marry.
40% of all prostitutes in Thailand are children
The only problem is that the women and her family have no knowledge of this arrangement. The man and his friends or relatives then proceed to kidnap her usually by car and take her back to his house where she is then bombarded by his family as they try to convince her to accept the marriage. The family attempts to put a scarf on her head, which     symbolizes her consent to the marriage. If the girl refuses the scarf then some families will let her leave while others will keep this process going on for days.   Sometimes the girls will refuse to eat till they can be released.
There is so much that happens outside of Junction City that we don’t know about, let alone the world. I’m not here to say that everything outside of our normal is bad, but it sometimes takes the bad things for  people to pay attention. So get up and find  something that you don’t know about, do some research, and then   maybe you can help. Don’t think that just because you’re from Junction City that doesn’t mean you can’t know, or help.

source: http://www.ihigh.com/jchigh/article_21726.html

Child prostitution out of shadows in Seattle

Some change comes quietly.

But something has changed, those who watch such things will say, in the way Seattle and its environs view the girls and boys selling their bodies from the cities’ sidewalks and hotel rooms.

Those who make it their business point to the concrete — a first-of-its-kind shelter for prostituted youth, a new law that raises the stakes for those selling sex with children, a win against a pimp ring — and pass along the word of mouth that the kids are getting younger, the pimps a little meaner. But the hint, they’ll quietly allow, is that something larger and less tangible is happening.

About that crime of the shadows — child prostitution — the public is starting to care.

Those youths — at least the girls, initially — are the target of a joint Seattle-King County effort scheduled to launch this spring. The first of its kind in the area, the program is designed to help child prostitutes break away from their pimps, and the life, by providing shelter and treatment.

“The perception is that they are just prostitutes, nobody cares,” said Sean O’Donnell, a senior deputy prosecutor attached to the special assault unit. “The perception is, they’re signing up for this. …

“They’re people. They’re girls. They should be worrying about what they’re wearing to their high school dance and not whether they’re going to bring in quota.”

That’s a King County prosecutor — a law-and-order guy whose office walls carry a portrait of Winston Churchill and a clipping of Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer — arguing that children who are technically criminals are victims. The fun part for O’Donnell and his cohort, at least by his estimation, is that jurors have begun to agree.

A recent study commissioned by the City of Seattle identified 238 children involved in prostitution in the city. The total number, according to the assessment, was likely 300 to 500 kids in the Seattle area.

Some of those girls come from loving homes, said Julie Kays, the special assault unit deputy prosecutor. Others have fled sexual abuse at home or fallen into drug addiction.

Regardless of their circumstances, Kays said, the girls tend to offer similar stories. They fell in love, their man asked them to make some money selling sex, and they couldn’t get out.

Usually there are threats, the senior deputy prosecutor said. Often there is violence.

Always, the money goes straight to the pimp.

That was the situation described by one Beacon Hill teen testifying against Deshawn Clark, a 19-year-old West Seattle pimp recently convicted on human trafficking charges.

Recalling how she ended up climbing into cars at the “fashion show” next to Seattle Center, the young woman described being propositioned by one of Clark’s friends, admitted pimp Mycah Johnson, over ice cream.

Testifying in October during the trial of one of Johnson’s codefendants, the young woman said Johnson alternated between threats and promises of love as she continued to turn tricks for him.

“He played on everything that I went through,” the young woman told the King County jury. “He made me promises that were backed up by promises. I should have known better, because I guess promises are made to be broken.”

The prosecution in which the teen testified ended in vindication for prosecutors, who’d bet that a jury could believe the testimony of prostituted teens and convict Clark on a newly minted charge, human trafficking. Following on guilty pleas by Johnson and four other men, Clark was convicted of pimping several teens as part of a West Seattle gang.

That jurors believed the young women, in that case and others, shows that the public’s view of prostitution has shifted, Kays said.

“That defense — ‘Oh, she’s just a whore’ or ‘Oh, she’s just a prostitute. You can’t believe her.’ — that isn’t going to hold water,” Kays said. “Jurors, through common sense and good sense and, frankly, kindness, are going to see that doesn’t hold true.”

Following on the work of Seattle and King County vice detectives, O’Donnell and Deputy Prosecutor Christina Miyamasu spent much of 2009 working to secure the first conviction under the state’s human-trafficking law. Authorities moved heaven and earth to do it, sending detectives across the country to bring in a reluctant witness in the case against Clark.

The resulting conviction, under a law that Clark’s attorney argued was meant for people smugglers not West Seattle teens, will likely result in a decades-long prison sentence against Clark. And that too would be a change.

Under the state law most frequently applied — commercial sexual abuse of a minor, a lesser offense of which Clark was also convicted — pimping children carries a two-year prison term for a first time offender.

A recent change reclassified the crime as a sex offense requiring registration as a sex offender, but did not increase the penalty. The maximum sentence, a 10-year prison term, is imposed only against those with multiple felony convictions.

Those caught soliciting sex from a child prostitute face a standard minimum sentence of one to three months in jail, though that penalty can be waived through a first-time offender alternative.

Speaking last month, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said that, in his view, the sentences handed to pimps and others benefiting from child prostitution don’t square with the harm done to prostituted girls and boys.

“We’re talking about kids who were taken off the streets and made sex slaves,” Satterberg said. “It’s a very dark secret in our community that most people don’t know about and don’t want to know about. … The demand for this is high, and the supply is being created by young girls.”

While locking up pimps and scaring johns may dissuade some of each, that action does little to move teen prostitutes off the streets.

At present, the state can punish children for selling sex but has little to offer. In an effort to change that, a City of Seattle-King County group is preparing to launch a pilot project to provide assistance to several dozen prostituted kids.

The program, set to launch this spring, will provide safe housing, support and drug treatment to teen girls caught prostituting, said Terri Kimball, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Division director for the city’s Human Services Department.

Initially able to care for nine youths at a time, Kimball said the program will offer transitional housing and support to 25 to 30 children a year. That effort — when compared to the hundreds of known child prostitutes in King County — will reach only a fraction of prostituted youths, but marks a first step forward for the region.

“Right now, (the girls) beat us back out to the street,” Kimball said. “There’s no place for them.”

The fledgling effort is not expected to go easy.

Many teen prostitutes, Kimball said, sell sex because they’ve been made to want to or feel they must. They love the men they’re working for, she said, and fail to see the relationship for the one-way street it is.

“In spite of everything they’ve been through, they love their pimps,” Kimball said. “Kids are looking for love and acceptance. She stands to lose all of that if she doesn’t do what he wants.”

Taking a view disputed in the court by defense attorneys, prosecutors like Kayes and O’Donnell contend that control is no accident of circumstance.

Shepherding the prosecution of five alleged members of a West Seattle gang, O’Donnell garnered confessions from four admitted West Side Street Mobb members and a fifth man. In each, the accused admitted to fostering love and fear simply to make a buck.

Describing his approach to the Beacon Hill teen, Johnson, now 20, told the court that what had begun as a dating relationship shifted within weeks of their meeting.

By his account, Johnson told her she needed to “work” so they could have a life together. Once she began working for him, he told her what to charge and demanded she give him every cent.

She complied.

Johnson, like the others, went on to matter-of-factly describe why he pimped.

“Pimping is a way to make money quickly and easily,” Johnson told the court. “This helped my reputation within the gang. … Being a gang that pimped out girls made the gang sound better to other gangs.”

The counterpoint, vocally offered by friends and family of the Street Mobb defendants, was that the girls and women had chosen prostitution.

Court records and statements outside Clark’s trial attest that several of the teen prostitutes continued to sell themselves as their pimps waited in jail. Some had been prostitutes before meeting any of the men accused.

The men may have profited, the supporters’ argument went, but the girls already wanted to sell sex.

In O’Donnell’s view, that contention is “crap.”

Conceding that somewhere, someone may have chosen to prostitute of his or her free will, O’Donnell asserted that the youths and most others working as prostitutes do so only under absolute duress.

“What’s so offensive to me personally is these pimps who are putting these children out on the street for one reason, and that is cold, hard cash,” O’Donnell said. “They are cruel. They are greedy. And the impact on these young women — whether it’s a rape, an attempted rape, a sexually transmitted disease or simply the shame — will be with them for the rest of their lives.”

Coincidentally, money has also been the hang-up for efforts to combat child prostitution in Seattle.

A collection of city, county and private funds has been tapped for the two-year pilot project to house and treat prostituted youth, Kimball said.

Due to funding cutoffs, though, organizers remain $650,000 short of the $1.4 million needed to maintain the program, Kimball said. Private donors and the United Way of King County have provided nearly half the funding secured.

Despite the difficulty, Satterberg said he’s heartened to see the community making a move.

“For as widespread as this problem is, it’s concerning that there aren’t more facilities that can deal with these kids and their complicated lives,” said Satterberg, the elected county prosecutor. “If you’ve got money, you’ve got promise. And the promise here is that Seattle will do something about this.”

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/414133_prostitution12.html
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