YWCA gets federal funds to shelter sex trafficking victims

The YWCA of Greater Portland will use $900,000 in federal money to help establish a shelter for victims of human sex trafficking, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden plans to announce in Portland on Saturday.

The funds come after a U.S. Department of Justice study ranked Portland and Seattle among 12 hub cities where traffickers recruit teenagers for sex work and move them around the country.

“One of the problems police have is these girls, when they’re arrested or turn themselves in or want to get out of the life, they have no place to go,” says Tom Towslee, a spokesman for Wyden. “It takes time for police to develop the evidence and case they need against the traffickers. With no place to go, all too often they end up going back into the shadows and often return to the men who abused them in the first place.

“These women are not criminals. They need someplace they can be safe, not in a jail, and can get services like counseling, which they need to turn their lives around.”

Saltzman efforts

The YWCA initiative is just one of a few underway to help get sex trafficking victims and prostitutes off the street and into safe houses.

Wyden’s office is also co-sponsoring a bill with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would bring a federal grant of $2.5 million per year for three years, to create six safe houses around the country for girls 12 to 18 years old. Towslee says that Wyden hopes Portland would receive one of those grants, since it is recognized as a major hub for underage sex trafficking. The funds would support a safe house as well as boost law enforcement resources toward combating the crime.

The third effort under way is led by City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who is working on a pilot program that would begin this fall. The program would place women seeking to escape their life on the street into private-market units around the city, rather than in one central “safe house.”

Offering support

The nonprofit Join, which already works with the city’s housing efforts, uses a “housing-first” model that places people in housing and then gives them the social, financial and other support they need to maintain that housing. Join will provide the up-front rent and moving costs, work with the landlord and supply other help as needed.

LifeWorks Northwest, the nonprofit treatment center that already provides many services to these women, will supply the counseling, addiction treatment, employment assistance and any other help they may need.

If the woman relapses and returns to the street for a short time, she will not lose their housing, since that’s one of the philosophies of the housing-first model, says Amy Trieu, a policy coordinator for Saltzman: “The purpose is to build that trust.”

The city plans to start with a small group of four to six women this fall, then expand later.

Wyden will announce the funds for the YWCA at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the facility, 1111 S.W. 10th Ave. Other leaders joining him include Saltzman, County Commissioner Diane McKeel, State Rep. Carolyn Tomei and Eric Brown, executive director of the YWCA of Greater Portland.

source:http://portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=128044540611027200

Iraqi Child Sex Slave? Welcome to Prison!

Iraqi prisons are filled with young girls. Some of them were jailed for having relatives with ties to terrorist groups. Others have been charged with crimes ranging from petty to serious. But among the population of Iraqi girls in prison are victims of child sex trafficking, sold into prostitution against their will. In Iraq, imprisoning victims too often passes for justice.

One of those girls is 15-year-old Zenia. Two years ago, her father took her to Syria to visit her grandfather. But when they arrived, Zenia learned that this was no average family trip. Her family had brought her to Syria to sell her to a sex trafficker, who took her from Syria to the United Arab Emirates. There, Zenia was forced into prostitution.

Distraught and desperately looking for a way to escape, Zenia fled her captors and contacted the police in the UAE. Sure, prostitution is illegal in both the UAE and Iraq, but Zenia was just a child forced into it against her will. Surely the police would understand?

They didn’t. Zenia was unceremoniously deported to Baghdad. And when she arrived, her reward for summoning the courage to escape slavery, to protect herself from abuse, and notify the police about criminal activity, was rewarded with a two year prison sentence. Apparently, in Iraq, this passes for justice.

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Sex Traffic Victim: ‘I Was A Slave’

Those who support an effort to toughen laws on human sex trafficking are making a final push to get the governor to sign a bill sitting on her desk.

 “Robyn,” which is not her real name, said she was treated like a slave.

 “My life was at risk every night. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I had to see a gun at night when I got back to the place I was staying,” she said, trying to hold back tears.

 Robyn, 19, said she was forced into prostitution for three months last year by a 38-year-old man she met online.

 “I felt safe at the time and then one day everything changed. He turned on me. I mean, he changed into a monster,” she said.

 Robyn said she took in between $500 and $1,000 a night working mostly on Chinatown’s streets, but the money was collected by her pimp.

 She said the bill now before the governor would help other women on the street like her by making sex trafficking a felony.

 The city prosecutor’s office supports making sex trafficking a felony, but opposes the bill.

 “It’s going to overlap with our existing statutes. It makes things more complicated, not easier,” said Dennis Dunn, deputy prosecutor.

 Prosecutors said numerous technical aspects of the bill would make it difficult to convict a sex trafficker.

 “I think it’s difficult because part of what needs to be done has nothing to do with legislation. It’s a matter of educating both law enforcement and the public to be aware,” said Dunn.

 Robyn said human sex trafficking is a bigger problem than most people realize.

 “I don’t think people want to know there’s people out there. Young women out there that are still in my position and they need help,” she said.

 Robyn said she’s trying to find a job and wants to go back to school, but she’s still fearful her former pimp will find her.

 Gov. Linda Lingle has until July 6 to sign the bill into law. Supporters of the measure vow to raise the issue again next legislative session if the governor vetoes the bill. Those who support an effort to toughen laws on human sex trafficking are making a final push to get the governor to sign a bill sitting on her desk.

“Robyn,” which is not her real name, said she was treated like a slave.

“My life was at risk every night. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I had to see a gun at night when I got back to the place I was staying,” she said, trying to hold back tears.

Robyn, 19, said she was forced into prostitution for three months last year by a 38-year-old man she met online.

“I felt safe at the time and then one day everything changed. He turned on me. I mean, he changed into a monster,” she said.

Robyn said she took in between $500 and $1,000 a night working mostly on Chinatown’s streets, but the money was collected by her pimp.

She said the bill now before the governor would help other women on the street like her by making sex trafficking a felony.

The city prosecutor’s office supports making sex trafficking a felony, but opposes the bill.

“It’s going to overlap with our existing statutes. It makes things more complicated, not easier,” said Dennis Dunn, deputy prosecutor.

Prosecutors said numerous technical aspects of the bill would make it difficult to convict a sex trafficker.

“I think it’s difficult because part of what needs to be done has nothing to do with legislation. It’s a matter of educating both law enforcement and the public to be aware,” said Dunn.

Robyn said human sex trafficking is a bigger problem than most people realize.

“I don’t think people want to know there’s people out there. Young women out there that are still in my position and they need help,” she said.

Robyn said she’s trying to find a job and wants to go back to school, but she’s still fearful her former pimp will find her.

Gov. Linda Lingle has until July 6 to sign the bill into law. Supporters of the measure vow to raise the issue again next legislative session if the governor vetoes the bill.

source: http://www.kitv.com/news/23715987/detail.html

Flyleaf Allies With World Vision to Stop Human Trafficking

Texas based rock band Flyleaf is partnering with World Vision in a campaign to stop human sex trafficking, and is offering a free download of their song inspired by the fight against trafficking. Human trafficking is “essentially a modern day slave trade,” where people, often children, are kidnapped and exploited to be soldiers, labor slaves or sex slaves. World Vision estimates that there are as many as 27 million people worldwide caught enslaved through human trafficking. More than half of these victims are women and children.

World Vision published a document with “10 Things You Need to Know About Human Trafficking” that offers information and dispels myths about human trafficking as well as things people and governments can do to stop it. Facts from the document include “girls are trafficked into many industries besides brothels,” “adoption is still a trafficking risk,” and “boys and men are trafficked too.”

Lead singer Lacey Mosley had this to say in a release discussing the band’s interest in the cause and the inspiration behind the free track.

When we were recording the song ‘Set Apart This Dream’ for our new CD, ‘Memento Mori,’ I was thinking about the innocence that is so easily and often stolen from so many kids.  Today, there are 2 million children around the world who are victims of sex slavery.  We named this tour Unite and Fight sometimes we have to fight violence with peace and that takes unity.  We have to fight thieves who steal children and sell them with generosity.  This also takes unity.  It’s our way of bringing a bit of attention to a grave matter.  All of us who are in a safer place have the ability to help lift some of the burden of such a heavy and disgusting injustice.”

You can download the track here and learn more about the World Vision’s work to stop human trafficking and how to help at their website.

source: http://www.globalshift.org/2010/05/flyleaf-allies-with-world-vision-to-stop-human-trafficking/

FAIR Fund Fights Human Trafficking in the District

Non-Profit Hosts Upcoming Gala to Raise Awareness

WASHINGTON, DC – Human sex trafficking is a threat to the children of Washington DC. Andrea Powell, co-founder and executive director of FAIR Fund , a nonprofit dedicated to fighting human trafficking and sexual violence, joined us along with youth survivor and Fair Fund advocate, Asia, to share her story.

Speaking out against domestic sex trafficking and the passing of the Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act at a briefing on Capitol Hill last week with actress, Demi Moore, and Congressman Chris Smith, Asia testified how a pimp lured her with promises of an escape from her “dead-end life in Milwaukee”.

Traveling between Wisconsin and Illinois, Asia’s pimp exploited her for two weeks posting her cell phone number on Craigslist.

One of her callers, a pimp just outside D.C., offered her a wire transfer to come to the District where he began sexually exploiting her in a hotel in College Park.

“Day after day for one month, the pimp took me around Dallas, Philadelphia and D.C.,” Asia testified. “The calls never stopped, and I could never rest or even shower.”

The average age of entry for female prostitutes in the United States is between 12 and 14 years, and children and youth older than 12 are prime targets for sexual exploitation by organized crime units, according to a 2001 Department of Justice report.

“I think many Americans are more willing to accept that there are girls enslaved in Cambodia or Delhi, and really can’t imagine that it’s happening right here,” actress Demi Moore said at the briefing Tuesday. “As a society, we owe it to them to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Arrested after a local police sting operation, Asia was later charged with prostitution and released with no money, contacts or job skills; with little knowledge of the area, Asia returned to her pimp before deciding “enough was enough” and escaping.

Bouncing between stranger’s homes and shelters, a shelter employee soon connected Asia with FAIR Fund.

FAIR Fund provided Asia clean clothing, housing at the Covenant House shelter and provided access to health care job training.

FAIR Fund builds the capacity of communities to better identify and assist youth aged 11 to 24 who are at high risk or have been exploited via human trafficking and sexual violence and has active programs in Bosnia, Chicago, Illinois, Serbia, Russia, Washington, D.C, and Uganda.

The nonprofit assists victims through preventative education workshops, outreach to exploited youth, and art therapy for girl survivors.

FAIR Fund also provides adult ally training to teachers, social workers, educators, police, judges, lawyers, medical professionals, and students on how to best identify and assist high risk and sexually exploited or trafficked teens.

With funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, private European and U.S. foundations, individuals, and the Danish government, FAIR fund trains local governmental officials, social workers, teachers, and local law enforcement on how to best protect youth in their communities from sexual violence and human trafficking.

FAIR Fund will hold a gala Thursday at the Embassy of Austria at 3524 International Court, NW.

The 4th annual “Pearls of Purpose” Gala will celebrate and raise critical support for FAIR Fund’s work to stop the sex and labor trafficking of youth worldwide.

Guests and hosts include current and former members of Congress, foreign dignitaries and other supporters.

Fox viewers can receive discounted tickets to the event by entering promo code Fox on FAIR Fund’s website.

“It is my hope that Congress will pass the Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act introduced last December by Senator Wyden so that more girls can receive the help that they need, when they need it, just as I did through FAIR Fund,” said Asia.

source:  http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/mornings/fair-fund-fights-human-trafficking-in-the-district-051710

Searching for Missing Jessie Foster

Have you seen this woman?

22 years old Hair: blond Eyes: hazel Height: 5-foot-6 Weight: 125 pounds

As the plane took off and banked to the south, the United States spread out before Glendene Grant. The Rocky Mountains of Montana. The Snake River and Yellowstone National Park in Idaho and Wyoming. The Great Salt Lake, the Wasatch Range and Bryce Canyon in Utah.

From her window seat, Grant looked down on it all — a sheet of darkness — and thought one thing: Where’s Jessie?

Everyone and everything on the flight reminded her of Jessie. The man sitting next to her, whom she handed a card with Jessie’s photo on it. The TV screen in the seat back, which aired footage of the recovery of two kidnapped boys in Kirkwood, Mo. Her carry-on bag, which contained a laptop, newspaper clippings and missing-person posters.

The plane began its descent into Las Vegas — the bed of lights, the Monopoly houses, the neon river of the Strip.

Is Jessie beneath those lights, Grant wondered? Is she somewhere in the city? Is she alive? Is she dead?

As the plane taxied to the gate, a flight attendant announced a birthday and the passengers sang “Happy Birthday.” Grant cringed. Jessie was missing on her own birthday. And on Mother’s Day. And on Christmas.

So many days in a year. So many reminders.

“They come to Las Vegas to drink and gamble and have fun, and it kind of bothered me that they just assumed everybody else on the plane was there to have fun,” said Grant. “I felt like standing up and saying, ‘Excuse me, but I’m not really here to have fun.’ I felt like saying, ‘After singing ‘Happy Birthday,’ let’s say a prayer for my daughter.’”

Added Jessie’s father, Dwight Foster, who flew into Las Vegas a few days after Grant: “I saw how spread out the city was and how bright it was and the glitz and the glamour. Of course, the passengers flying in are very excited. Everyone on the plane was going there to have fun and make lots of money. I’m sitting there and all I’m feeling is apprehension and dread and hopelessness. Las Vegas just represents a totally different head space for me.”

Grant didn’t stand up and say anything to the passengers. She doesn’t want to be too cynical, she said. She’s just sad. Really sad.

She picked up her bag, shuffled off the plane and made her way through McCarran International Airport.

“I wish I thought that I was coming here to find Jessie,” she said, her voice breaking. “But I know I’m not going to go home with her. I know that. Basically, I’m just here to remind people that she’s missing and to let more people know she’s missing. I just want to bring her picture to light. I just want to try to get some media attention and let the police know we’re not giving up. We’re not going to quit phoning them. We’re not going to quit e-mailing them. We want some answers.”

Jessica Edith Louise Foster was born on May 27, 1984, in Calgary, Alberta. She grew up in Kamloops, British Columbia, a city of about 90,000 people.

When she was 16 years old, Jessie moved to Calgary to live with her father — who’d separated from her mother when Jessie was 1 1/2. She graduated from John G. Diefenbaker High School in 2002.

“I missed most of her formative years,” said Foster, an occupational health and safety officer with the government of Alberta. “I missed her elementary school years. I missed her junior high school years. So when she moved to Calgary and I was able to sit down with her and help her with her homework that really helped us bond. We were very close.”

In February 2005, Jessie moved back to Kamloops. A few months later, she traveled the United States — Miami, New York City and Atlantic City — with a friend. She ended up in Las Vegas in May of that year and decided to stay.

“I didn’t like that she moved here,” said Grant. “I even said to her, ‘You’re not moving to Las Vegas without me having the contact information for somebody else living there.’ I literally said to her, ‘What if something happens to you? What if you go missing and I don’t know who to call?’”

Added Foster, “It was doomed from the beginning. First of all, she was an illegal alien. She was just visiting the United States. Then, shortly after moving here, she met this guy. She was talking about a long-term relationship with him, but she wasn’t an American citizen. She wasn’t going to be able to live down here with him.

“She didn’t think any of this through. How was she expecting this to succeed?”

The “guy” was North Las Vegas resident Peter Todd. Jessie moved in with Todd shortly after she arrived in Las Vegas, said her mother and father.

In November 2005, Jessie flew home to Kamloops to visit. She also visited Calgary. On Christmas Day, the family drove her to the airport, where she caught the 3 p.m. flight back to Las Vegas.

“If I’d felt I had the right to,” said Grant, “I would’ve stopped her from leaving. But she was 21 years old, so I couldn’t tell her: ‘You have to stay home. You can’t go back there.’ She was an adult and had been for three years.”

It was the last time the family has seen Jessie.

On March 28, her older sister Crystal talked to her on the phone. No one in the family has talked to her since. Her cell phone hasn’t been used. Her credit cards haven’t been used. She hasn’t made any transactions at the bank.

“I knew right away that something was wrong,” said Foster. “There was no doubt in my mind. This was not something Jessie had ever done before. She always kept in touch with her family. I broke down, because I knew this was serious.”

Finally, on April 9, Grant got in touch with Peter Todd. He told her Jessie had left him in early April and he hadn’t seen or heard from her since. Grant called the North Las Vegas Police Department and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and reported Jessie missing.

According to a North Las Vegas Police Department report, an officer went to Todd’s house that day and asked him about Jessie. Todd told the officer Jessie had moved out on April 2. He also allowed the officer to look around the home.

About a week later, Todd and his ex-wife were questioned at the police department.

“When you’re a detective and you interview people, you oftentimes might have a suspicion about this or that,” said Tim Bedwell, a public information officer with the North Las Vegas Police Department. “The problem is, the law doesn’t allow you to use mere suspicion to arrest people, to get a search warrant and things like that. I’m certainly not prepared to sit here and say there aren’t things about this case that are suspicious, but we have to be cautious about what we say. The truth is we don’t know what happened to Jessie. We can’t even develop any sort of estimation.”

CityLife was unable to reach Todd for comment. In police reports and newspaper stories, he has said he had nothing to do with Jessie’s disappearance.

In mid-April, Grant and Foster hired private investigator Mike Kirkman. Kirkman found out Jessie had been arrested multiple times for prostitution, under the name Jessie Taylor. He also said Todd’s ex-wife had been arrested for prostitution.

“It shocked me,” said Grant. “But then I got over the shock and realized it doesn’t really matter what Jessie was doing down here. She was missing and we needed to find her. I don’t give a crap what anyone does for a living. They’re still human. And I especially wasn’t going to judge one of my kids.”

Added Foster, “It sounds to me like there’s irrefutable evidence that my daughter sold her body for money. I don’t care what you call it. I hate the word ‘prostitute.’ I hate the word ‘hooker.’ Those things disgust me when I think of them, because that’s what my daughter was. That, in itself, is so devastating.”

Kirkman also told Grant and Foster he thought their daughter was dead.

Despite shocking revelations and theories, there was little physical evidence in Jessie’s disappearance. The North Las Vegas Police Department closed the case pending further information. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Kamloops Police Department and the Canadian consulate never got involved, said Grant and Foster.

“And that’s where the case has been ever since,” said Grant. “The only people who have done any further investigation are Mike Kirkman and the family. It’s very frustrating.”

Said Foster, “The North Las Vegas Police Department doesn’t even exist in my mind. They’ve done absolutely nothing. They’ve done nothing but open a case file. They’ve disillusioned us and given us great concern about whether any investigation is going to be initiated. They told us right away that they don’t have the resources for this kind of case and Metro usually handles these cases and, well, Jessie lived in North Las Vegas. Sorry, but we have to take the case and we’re just not set up for this kind of thing.

“Basically they said, ‘It’s our responsibility, but we can’t do anything about it.’”

Jessie’s disappearance has affected her family profoundly. Grant said she is a different person now. She doesn’t even recognize herself. She was always the loudest, most boisterous person in the room. The one who had everyone laughing. Very outgoing. Now she doesn’t even like to leave the house. She’s withdrawn. Nothing is fun anymore, she said, now that Jessie’s not around.

At one point, Grant was neglecting her three other children. Then Crystal told her not to forget about them. We need you, too, she said. And you need us.

“It wasn’t a matter of not considering them or forgetting about them,” said Grant, an Internet technician. “It’s just that they were there. They were in front of me. They were in my house. They were all taken care of and I knew where they were, so all of my energy was focused on Jessie.”

It’s tough for Foster to describe what a father feels when his daughter disappears without a trace. He can only say he hasn’t worked in 10 months. He doesn’t do the things he used to like to do. When he tries to do them, he just goes through the motions. There’s no passion. There’s no energy. He’s numb.

“You go through a period of deep, profound despair,” said Foster, “and you live with a lump in your throat and you feel like your chest is going to explode and you feel like you’re losing grasp of reality. It affected me in ways I never thought possible.”

Time passes unnoticed, he said. The months of April, May and June felt like a week. They vanished, along with the good memories, which were replaced by total darkness. Without the e-mails he sent during those months, he wouldn’t even have proof he was alive.

Then time slowed down, said Foster. To normal. Then to a crawl. The months of August, September and October felt like an eternity.

Jessie’s disappearance gutted him, said Foster. It ripped him open. He bled.

And he will continue to bleed until she’s found.

“All along, I hoped the system would work for us,” said Foster. “I had faith that once people realized this is serious, this isn’t some runaway taking off for a couple weeks, they would do something about it. But they haven’t. I was filled with a sense of desperation. I realized that it was coming up on a year since my daughter had disappeared, and regardless of all the attempts I’d made to get my consulate and the local authorities to do something, they weren’t taking us seriously. It wasn’t changing anything. I felt like I had to be a physical presence down here for something to happen.

“Maybe I’m wrong, but I had to take a shot at it.”

January 17. 1:45 p.m. Grant and Foster sat in a sterile conference room, their reflections showing on the tabletop. Grant’s left arm was wedged between the table and her chin. Foster’s arms were folded. Mike Hope, director of Crime Stoppers of Nevada, looked at them blankly.

The small talk had ended. The details of Jessie’s disappearance had been reviewed and analyzed. (Grant and Foster added that they thought the “friend” Jessie traveled to the United States with was actually a pimp.) The role of Crime Stoppers — to generate tips and try to publicize them — had been defined. The conversation turned to the reward, set at $5,000, and the possibility of the family increasing it.

“At what stage does a reward start to make a difference?” Foster asked Hope.

“It just depends,” said Hope methodically. “We had a homicide a year ago where $100,000 brought in a lot of tips. Other times, you get tips for much less than that. There’s no magic number. It’s just whatever will make someone say, ‘That’s worth it to me to come forward.’ What that number is, I really don’t now.”

“What do you see as our next move,” continued Foster, “besides upping the reward?”

“That’s about all you can do, as far as Crime Stoppers is concerned. You want to keep the media interested in the story and see if you can entice someone to come forward. There are a couple of advertising things I’m going to look into. I can’t promise you anything, but I’ll talk to some people about billboards and that kind of thing.” Hope, who has two daughters, said he understood how they felt.

Foster leaned forward, placed his elbows on the table and locked his fingers.

“If we up the reward to $10,000, what will Crime Stoppers do?” he asked. “Another press release? TV? Newspapers?”

“What I do is type up the press release,” said Hope, who has worked for Metro (with which Crime Stoppers is affiliated) for 27 years. “It goes through our public information office. They send it to the newspapers and television stations, but it’s up to them whether they broadcast it or not. We don’t have any control over that. They may pick it up, they may not. Hopefully it’s a slow news day. If there’s something big going on, it may get pushed to the bottom of the pile.”

After meeting with Grant and Foster, Hope said that all Crime Stoppers — which received more than 1,000 phone calls in December — could do was try to spread the word that Jessie’s still missing.

“I had back surgery a few years ago,” said Hope. “I wanted the doctor to tell me everything’s going to be all right, but he wouldn’t. All he would say was, ‘I’ll do the best I can.’ It’s kind of the same thing here. You don’t want to tell people everything’s going to be all right, in case it isn’t.”

The following afternoon, Grant and Foster went to the North Las Vegas Police Department. They met with Detective Dave Molnar, who was assigned Jessie’s case. Molnar, said Grant and Foster, shared some new information with them — but said there were no solid leads. He also told them the police department has to wait seven years to consider turning a missing-person case into a murder case.

“Seven years was a bit of a shock to me,” said Foster. “That was a real kick in the nuts.”

While Grant and Foster met with Molnar, Bedwell took questions from CityLife and Canadian TV newscast Global National.

Is there more the department could do in this case?

“We can’t follow leads that aren’t there,” said Bedwell. “We believe we’ve talked to everyone we know of that has any information, and there’s no way for us to develop new leads unless somebody comes forward. There’s really nowhere else to follow up.”

Grant and Foster said they’ve given North Las Vegas police leads the department hasn’t followed up on.

“Our investigation is about Jessie’s disappearance. It’s not about what made her decide to come to Las Vegas, although there may be some information in there that’s helpful,” Bedwell said. “The reality is this is not an investigation of why Jessie became a prostitute. I know her mother would like to have that question answered; we’re never going to be able to answer it for her. The investigation we’re conducting is about what happened to Jessie — and we will follow every lead that has a possibility of helping us determine that.”

Are there difficulties with the case because she worked as a prostitute?

“You can’t look up the references at her last job interview,” Bedwell said. “You can’t talk to the people she worked with, because they aren’t going to come forward. People who would’ve come into contact with her regularly — taxi drivers, male contacts, girlfriends — probably worked in the same trade and are not going to come forward. There are a number of barriers to finding people who had contact with Jessie.

“I’ve worked at three different police departments. I’ve worked with a number of federal agencies. I have 32 years of public service and I can tell you this department is pursuing this case as far as it possibly can. It’s not my goal to convince anyone in the family of that, because they’re not going to be satisfied until we bring them their daughter.”

Grant and Foster entered the room. Grant’s eyes were sunken and glazed over. Foster was flushed. There was silence.

Then Foster said there are suspects in this case and the police need to go after them.

“Whether you think there’s enough evidence to indict someone, under U.S. law there’s not,” said Bedwell. “We need more.”

“Then go get more!” said Foster.

“We have enough resources to investigate cases where we know a crime occurred — and that’s about it. There are a lot of cases out there where we think crimes occurred. But if we commit our resources to those cases, we’ve got to pull people off cases where we know crimes were committed. While that’s never going to sit well with you, it’s a fact.”

“I’m not asking you to arrest anyone,” Foster said. “Start with a block and then put another block on top of it and another and another. It seems to me you have too many rules to operate under and the criminals have all the rights. Goddammit! Where’s the case being built? Where’s the net being set? How many other girls are going to disappear? How many have disappeared already?”

After the meeting, Grant and Foster drove to Todd’s house — where Jessie last lived. A lockbox hung from the doorknob. The windows were dark. The blinds down.

Foster started up the walkway, looking down at the concrete.

“I just watched my daughter walk into the house,” he said in amazement. “I could see her. I could see her walking up to the doors. I could see her pulling out her key and walking in and thinking, I’m home. She felt all this was worth what she did for a living. It makes me wonder: Did I instill some sort of value in her that made her think this is what you live for, do whatever it takes to have a nice home? It makes me wonder if I instilled the right values in her. Could I have done something to prevent this?”

Another smut publication? Another club promo? Another huckster trying to sell show tickets?

That’s what tourists approaching Grant and Foster, who were handing out missing-person posters in front of the Tropicana hotel-casino, seemed to be thinking. Their heads dropped. They veered out of the way. They waved them off.

“Sometimes they don’t really notice me until I’m right there,” said Grant, holding a stack of posters. “Sometimes they just have to hear what I’m saying before they’ll stop.”

Added Foster, wearing a fleece jacket: “You get everything from absolute ice-cold rudeness to genuine concern. You see the whole range. But this morning, for the first time, I actually had somebody take my arm and physically move me out of the way. He knew what we were doing, too, that we weren’t selling anything or trying to give him political dogma. It was about the coldest thing I could imagine a human doing.”

During their stay, Grant and Foster gave out about 300 posters and 150 cards. They hoped to draw people to the websites — http://www.jessiefoster.ca and http://www.FindJessieFoster.com — and get them to contribute to their fund. They also, said Grant, just wanted to keep Jessie’s face out there.

“Our foster child is a runaway and is missing, too,” said Roberta Haight, who lives in the Minneapolis area. “My first reaction to the poster was: Oh my God, there are so many kids in the world who are missing and what are we doing to find them? The police don’t do anything about these runaways. That’s the sad thing. They just say, ‘Well, if they show up, they show up.’”

The engines roared. The plane jerked down the runway. The nose tilted in the air and the wheels left the ground.

Looking out the window, at the kaleidoscope of the Strip, Grant felt hollow. She and Foster had accomplished a lot in Las Vegas — met with Mike Hope of Crime Stoppers, with Dave Molnar and Tim Bedwell of the North Las Vegas Police Department, with private investigator Mike Kirkman — but she felt she was leaving Jessie behind.

“It’s a really big gap not having her,” said Grant. “The huge hole it leaves is amazing, that one little girl can leave such a big gap in so many people’s lives.”

At the same time, Grant was glad she was going home. She needed to see her husband, children and friends. She needed to see familiar faces. She needed to see familiar places. She needed something sure.

Grant put her head back and thought about what else she could do for Jessie: a fundraiser at a neighborhood pub, update the websites, media interviews. Next thing she knew, the plane was beginning its descent into Calgary.

Sitting next to Grant, Foster was numb. He kept thinking about the meeting with the North Las Vegas Police Department. Bedwell didn’t understand what we wanted, he thought. He thought we wanted a dragnet. He thought we wanted an arrest. All we want, thought Foster, is a calculated approach. One piece of the puzzle. Then another.

“Glendene and I barely said a word to each other the whole trip back,” said Foster. “We looked like two people who had gone through a battle and were sitting back reflecting on it. It’s the feeling you get when you’ve done the best you can and you still don’t come away with a win.”

But the trip wasn’t a total loss, Foster conceded. He got a glimpse into the life of his daughter — maybe into the final months of her life. He walked in her footsteps. He saw where she lived. He learned more about what she did for a living. It was not how we raised her, he thought. It was not how we lived. Who is Jessie Taylor?

“But most of my thoughts were about the wolves that exist in society,” said Foster. “Who don’t like the light. Who don’t like the attention. And how freely they roam. These days, people look to the skies for terrorists. They think evil is going to drop from the heavens.”

But evil walks among us, thought Foster. It’s down there beneath all those lights.

If you have any information about the disappearance of Jessie Foster, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or the North Las Vegas Police Department at 702-633-1773 .

  • Last updated on Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 1:58 pm

source: http://www.lasvegascitylife.com/articles/2007/02/01/news/cover/iq_12290009.txt

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

Lawrence Taylor’s alleged victim could be tied to human sex trafficking; FBI investigates

According to federal documents obtained by TMZ, the FBI is investigating the pimp of the Lawrence Taylor‘s alleged rape victim on suspicion of human sex trafficking, a federal violation.

The 16-year-old girl told cops that her pimp, Rasheed Davis, instructed her to tell Taylor she was 19 and to have sex with him against her will.

An FBI agent working on the case says Davis “caused” the girl to “engage in multiple commercial sex acts with various individuals” and “set the prices.”

The federal documents indicate that Davis had sent the girl text messages telling her to have sex with Taylor on May 5, but that she initially refused.

In order to get her to comply, the agent claims Davis physically assaulted her “in an effort to coerce [the victim] into participating in a commercial sex act” and then instructed the victim to tell Taylor she was 19 and to charge him $300 for sex.

The agent says after the alleged encounter, the victim contacted a relative over text message and asked for help.

Police claim to have found $300 in Davis’ car when they tracked him down on May 6 — and Davis admitted he’d received the funds from pimping out the alleged victim to Taylor and others.

Taylor still maintains his innocence.

source: http://blog.zap2it.com/thedishrag/2010/05/lawrence-taylors-alleged-victim-could-be-tied-to-human-sex-trafficking-fbi-investigates.html

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Responds to the Lawrence Taylor Sex Trafficking Case

Today’s arrest of Lawrence Taylor for the alleged rape of a 16-year-old runaway sold to him in Montebello, New York by a pimp/trafficker is yet another example of the most powerful, respected and privileged among us demonstrating the normalization of the sexual exploitation of women and girls. Mr. Taylor is part of what we in the anti-trafficking movement call the demand that fuels sex trafficking. Without the demand for commercial sexual exploitation there would be no 16-year-olds — or 26-year-olds for that matter — being offered for sale to Johns by traffickers.

Earlier today Police Chief Brower repeatedly stated at the press conference that Mr. Taylor was ‘… very concerned about being accused of injuring the victim.’ He was referring only to the visible injury on her face, suggesting that the commercial sexual exploitation of this 16-year-old was inconsequential. This statement belies a profound lack of understanding regarding the nature of prostitution. It is now well documented that prostitution, the world’s oldest oppression, is inherently traumatic both on a physical and psychological level to the exploited.

It was also disturbing to hear high level members of the police force continually refer to the trafficking victim as a “prostitute.” Prostitution is the only crime where a person is called that which is done to them. Many victims of sex trafficking do not come forward because of the stigmatization associated with having been prostituted. Understanding that prostitution is a verb, not a noun, could go a long way in removing this stigma.

Shifting the focus of legal enforcement to the Johns and traffickers is how we end the demand for the commercial sexual exploitation of others. Sweden, Norway and now Iceland have passed legislation that does just that, and has created an environment that is unfavorable to human trafficking.

The New York State Anti-trafficking law, the strongest anti-trafficking law in the nation, increased penalties against the demand for commercial sex. This law is being under-enforced in New York state. We can begin to create the social, political and legal conditions that are inhospitable to human trafficking by vigorously enforcing New York’s law and prosecute the Johns and traffickers.

SOURCE The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW)

source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-coalition-against-trafficking-in-women-responds-to-the-lawrence-taylor-sex-trafficking-case-93041194.html

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, terrified 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!”

(more…)

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