Knabe, State Leaders Continue Efforts to Crack Down on Demand Side of Illicit Child Sex Trafficking Industry

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe joined State Senators Ted Lieu, D-Torrance; Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar; and Daphne Phung, California Against Slavery to reiterate their collective efforts to crackdown on the demand-side of the illicit child sex trafficking industry and announce the launch of a new county-wide Metro and billboard awareness campaign.

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to support a state-sponsored “War on Child Sex Trafficking” legislative package. The legislation includes adding sex trafficking to the list of gang activity felonies and allowing wiretapping in suspected trafficking cases.

“This ‘War on Child Sex Trafficking’ legislative package will change the way we prosecute and punish sex buyers,” said Supervisor Knabe. “I strongly believe that the degenerates responsible for the rape and torture of girls as young as 10 for their personal profit should have nothing short of the entire book thrown at them in a court of law. This package of bills starts us on that path.”

In addition to supporting the “War on Child Sex Trafficking” legislative package, Supervisor Knabe announced the launch of a new public awareness campaign. Los Angeles County is once again partnering with Metro and Clear Channel Outdoor to take this new child sex trafficking awareness campaign county-wide.

The new campaign will appear at Metro train stations and bus stops, as well as on rail cars, and trains in both English and Spanish. Thanks to a generous donation by Clear Channel Outdoor, digital displays and traditional billboards will broadcast the message that children sold for sex aren’t prostitutes—they’re rape victims.

The digital displays and billboards will begin running the anti-child sex trafficking campaign over the next few months.

Supervisor Knabe said, “This campaign is a critical step in raising awareness of child sex trafficking and changing the public’s mentality that prostitution is a life choice. No child grows up wanting to be bought and sold for sex in the streets of their community—they are victims—often forced into this life by brutal violence and threats. The true criminals are the scumbags that buy and sell young boys and girls for money and get off with a slap on the wrist.”

On SB 1338, Senator Lieu said, “Helping the victims of those convicted of pimping or soliciting a minor to engage in sex must be a top priority to help ensure public safety. This effort will not only seek increased penalties on buyers of sex, but also increase support and counseling for the victims of commercial sexual exploitation.”

On SB 982, Senator Huff said, “The unspeakable torture and trauma these kids experience daily at the hands of sex traffickers results in life-long psychological, emotional and physical damage. Yet current law is too soft on buyers of sex with children. My bill, SB 982, is designed to provide an important tool for prosecutors to pursue felony convictions for anyone who solicits a sex act from a child under the age of 18.”

Daphne Phung of California Against Slavery said, “If we are serious about stopping sexual slavery, we must turn off the money source. Sex buyers are stuffing the wallets of traffickers and pimps in exchange for victims to satisfy their perversion. Victims often suffer as much violence from sex buyers as they are from traffickers. We can no longer turn a blind eye on this or make excuses for them.”

Metro CEO Art Leahy said, “Metro is proud to support Supervisor Don Knabe in the campaign to fight child sex trafficking, and we encourage our many riders to be vigilant of suspicious activity on our buses, trains and in our stations. If you ‘See Something, Say Something’ to Sheriff’s deputies or Metro employees – it could save the life of a young victim.”

Clear Channel Outdoor’s Southern California Director of Public Affairs Layne Lawson said, “Clear Channel Outdoor applauds Supervisor Don Knabe for this critical campaign to combat child sex trafficking, and we proudly donate billboards across the region to heighten awareness and join the fight against this horrible and growing crime in Los Angeles County. Clear Channel Outdoor has supported anti-child sex and human trafficking campaigns across the country and we encourage local residents to be vigilant in recognizing signs and reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement.”

Jessica, a sex trafficking survivor said, “The men who bought and sold me and so many other young girls too often get off without any penalties or circumstances. It’s time for the real criminals to pay for exploiting young girls.  And it’s time for the young victims to get the services they need to move forward with the lives they deserve.”