Oakland officials and community leaders are taking steps to fight sex trafficking in the city.
Members of the Victory Outreach Church of Oakland gathered Friday night in front of Oakland City Hall to increase awareness of sex trafficking and child exploitation in Oakland.
Volunteers from the church take to the streets on weekly basis to try to reach women and girls working as prostitutes. On any given night they meet more than a dozen teens and young women working as prostitutes, according to church members.
“We’re just letting them know there’s a destiny for their life,” said Sylvia Vigil, wife of the church’s pastor. “Basically they’re all victims,” she said.
The gathering took place after an Oakland man was convicted earlier in the day of kidnapping two teenage prostitutes and making them work for him.
Prosecutors said Vincent Turner was facing the possibility of life in prison after being convicted of kidnapping, human trafficking and rape Friday.
“To have a jury come back today with that verdict … shows that we have turned a corner,” Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said Friday outside City Hall.
Turner’s case is one of the 140 that have been prosecuted in Alameda County since mid-2006, according to O’Malley. Of those, 110 resulted in felony convictions. All involved minors and multiple victims.
Turner, 31, is due to be sentenced June 25.