Child Sex Trafficking

Knabe Commemorates National Human Trafficking Month

child-sex-trafficking

Marking three years of Los Angeles County’s fight to protect victims from the horrors of child sex trafficking, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe today declared the month of January 2015 as “National Human Trafficking Month,” countywide.

“Over the past several years, we have made significant strides in our efforts to combat the sexual exploitation of children for money across our region,” said Supervisor Knabe. “I’m extremely proud of the progress we’ve made.

“Together with County departments, law enforcement, non-profit agencies, and the support of a bi-partisan group of state legislators, we have been able to support the true victims of this heinous crime and bring to justice those who buy and sell children for profit. We’ve come a long way—but there is still much more work to be done.

“In 2015, our priorities will be to more aggressively crack down on the demand side of the industry and to change the language surrounding sex trafficking by removing the word ‘prostitute’ and ‘child prostitute’ from our vocabulary. No child grows up dreaming of being manipulated emotionally and physically into a hellish life of exploitation. It is our responsibility to protect these victims, to wrap our arms around them and provide them with all the services they need to get on the road to recovery. I’m confident that as we continue building awareness of this issue, and expand our training of employees and law enforcement across the County, we can help these victims walk the path to a better life.”

Knabe Calls for Public Shaming of People Who Buy Children for Sex

On a motion by Supervisor Don Knabe, Los Angeles County will develop an ordinance and a plan to create a “John-Shaming Campaign” to publicize the names of individuals convicted of buying a girl for sex within Los Angeles County, particularly minors who are victims of child sex trafficking.

“I want the faces of those who buy sex from minors to be plastered across the County,” said Supervisor Knabe. “These individuals are a danger to society, and the public at large must know about anyone who’s been arrested for purchasing a minor for sex. I believe that displaying photographs of the so-called “johns” on the internet, on billboards, and other public places will be a powerful deterrent for anyone considering purchasing a young girl for sex. It’s time for the perpetrators to pay the price for taking the innocence away from young children.”

A draft ordinance and a plan developed by County Counsel and the District Attorney are expected to be brought back to the Board of Supervisors in 45 days.

“War on Child Sex Trafficking” Bills Signed Into Law

Three Los Angeles County sponsored bills that aim to crack down on the demand-side of the illicit child sex trafficking industry were signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown over the weekend, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe announced today. The bills, part of Los Angeles County’s bipartisan “War on Child Sex Trafficking” legislative package, will dramatically change the way pimps, traffickers, and sex buyers are prosecuted.

SB 1388, proposed by Senators Lieu, Hill, and Mitchell, will increase fines and penalties for anyone convicted of pimping or purchasing a minor. Senator Mitchell’s SB 955 will add human trafficking to a list of offenses that will allow the use of wiretapping. Senator Block’s SB 939 allows victims to testify against their traffickers in just one courtroom, rather than facing their exploiter in multiple jurisdictions.

“I am absolutely thrilled that Governor Brown has heard the voices of sex trafficking victims and signed these major bills into law, creating a heavy price for anyone engaging in the deplorable practice of sexually exploiting children for money,” said Knabe. “These new laws attack the economy of the child sex trade, on both the supply side, as well as the demand side, and create significant deterrents to those who intend to sexually exploit young children for sex.  Thanks to the efforts of Senators Ted Lieu, Holly Mitchell, Bob Huff, Jerry Hill, and Marty Block, Los Angeles County now has the teeth to crack down on those who buy and sell children, and give a voice to the true victims.”

Knabe Headlines Child Sex Trafficking Panel at National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe joined Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas), and Jessica, a child sex trafficking survivor, for a panel discussion on child sex trafficking at the National Press Club this morning in Washington, D.C.

The panel provided an inside look at the horrific sex trafficking industry and what is necessary to combat it, including expanding the penalties for buyers and sellers, developing programs for survivors, and creating anti-child sex trafficking awareness campaigns. Supervisor Knabe also presented the findings of a survey conducted by the National Association of Counties (NACo) that detailed the extent of this issue in counties across the country.

“We see through the NACO survey results that this is a national issue that must be addressed,” said Supervisor Knabe.  “As we see patterns in child sex trafficking across geography, we must also develop models for protection and prevention, by working together across levels of government. The voices of abused children often remain silent.

In the past, young girls arrested for prostitution were judged by society, exactly as their pimps predicted.  The pimp life, outrageously, has been celebrated. Through education, survivor and prevention programs, and legislation, we will reverse this injustice. Young girls, those we are responsible to protect, will know that, no matter where they are from or how they have been trafficked, they are the true victims.  We will be here for support, to help them realize their lives are valuable, and that they are worthy of the dreams they once imagined. We must do everything we can to get these girls off the track and on a path to a better life ahead. Together we will say, “No more; not in our streets; not to our young girls.”

Jessica, a child sex trafficking survivor said, “I was trafficked from Hollywood, California to Hollywood, Florida. Like many young ladies, I was considered the criminal.  Names were attached to me. And yet the men who bought and sold me, and so many other young girls, too often get off without any penalties or circumstances. I have survived the things that were done to me. 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.”

To view the results of the NACo survey, visit: http://www.naco.org/newsroom/pubs/Documents/Surveys/SexTrafficking_Survey_April2014.pdf

Knabe to Headline Child Sex Trafficking Panel at National Press Club in Washington, DC

Human sex trafficking is a growing issue in our country. Children, some as young as 12-years-old, are being sexually exploited for profit.  Officials at the federal and county level are taking action to deal with this problem.

This panel will provide an inside look at this horrific crime and what is necessary to combat it, including expanding the penalties for buyers and sellers, developing programs for survivors and creating anti-child sex trafficking awareness campaigns.  In addition, Supervisor Don Knabe will present the findings of a survey conducted by the National Association of Counties (NACo) detailing the extent of the problem for counties.

When:  Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Where:  National Press Club, Zenker Room

Panelists:

  • Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas)
  • Supervisor Don Knabe, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
  • Jessica M. – Trafficking Survivor – Leader

Contact: 

Cheryl Burnett
213-974-1095

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.”

Knabe, State Leaders to Declare War on Child Sex Trafficking; Launch New Public Awareness Campaign

State leaders will join Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe to discuss a “War on Child Sex Trafficking” package of state legislation that will target sex buyers. Earlier today, the Board unanimously voted to support the legislative package that includes longer jail time for sex buyers, adding human trafficking to a list of gang-related activities, allowing wiretapping to be used in sex trafficking cases, and streamlining a victim’s testimony against her exploiter.

Supervisor Knabe will also announce the launch of a new public awareness campaign that will appear on Metro buses and trains, and on billboards provided by Clear Channel Outdoor.

WHO:

  • Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe
  • State Senator Ted Lieu, D-Torrance
  • State Senator Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar; Senate Minority Leader
  • Daphne Phung, California Against Slavery
  • Jessica, Survivor-Leader
  • Layne Lawson, Clear Channel Outdoor

WHAT:

Supervisor Knabe will announce Los Angeles County’s support of a “War on Child Sex Trafficking” package of legislation to strengthen penalties for buyers and sellers of minors for sex.  He will also unveil a new public awareness campaign.

WHEN:

Friday, April 11, 2014 at 9:30am

WHERE:

Front Steps of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

* This public service campaign originated as ProtectOaklandKids, a collaborative effort of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, MISSSEY, Clear Channel Outdoor and the original design team of Suzanne Boutilier, Genice Jacobs and Jed Davis.   Photo credit: Tom Page.  © 2014 Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

Knabe Leads Bipartisan Effort to Combat Child Sex Trafficking

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe joined a bipartisan panel of lawmakers in Sacramento today to demand harsher penalties for people who buy, sell and exploit young girls for sex.

Joining Knabe were State Senators Ted Lieu, Holly Mitchell, Bob Huff, Jerry Hill, Marty Block and Assemblymember Susan Eggman, as well as Daphne Phung, Founder of California Against Slavery and Nola Brantley, Executive Director and Co-Founder of MISSSEY, which provides services to sexually exploited youth in Alameda County.

Knabe called on state legislators to develop a plan to increase penalties on those convicted of promoting or participating in the sexual trafficking of minors.  Knabe said:

“I am so pleased to be here today – with a bipartisan group of State Senators – who share that same goal of increasing the penalties for those who are guilty of this horrific crime.

What happens now is absolutely outrageous:  we basically arrest for prostitution 14-year-old girls who are being raped , and let the scumbags who buy and sell them get off with a slap on the wrist.  That is wrong and we must do something about it.

I appreciate the support of my State colleagues on this issue.  In all my years in government I don’t think I’ve seen an issue that is so horrific, happening right here in streets across California.  I look forward to working with my State colleagues to protect our most vulnerable, focus on the true victims and bring justice for those who need us most.

Together we will say: ‘No more.  Not in our streets.  Not to our young girls.’”

Knabe to Launch Bipartisan Effort to Combat Child Sex Trafficking

A bipartisan panel of state lawmakers will join Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe tomorrow in Sacramento to review possible reforms to better protect children from sexual exploitation and slavery.

WHO: Senators Ted Lieu, D-Torrance; Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles; Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar; Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo; and Marty Block, D-San Diego, will be joined by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe; and Daphne Phung of California Against Slavery, a human rights group dedicated to protecting the victims of sexual trafficking, especially minors. Also expected are Nola Brantley, executive director and co-founder of MISSSEY (which stands for motivating, inspiring, supporting and serving sexually exploited youth); and sex trafficking survivors.

WHAT: Speakers will review goals and planned state legislation to strengthen penalties for buying and selling minors for sex.

WHEN: 10:00 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 6.

WHERE: State Capitol, Room 1190. Note: Room 3191 will be the backup location should Room 1190 become unavailable.

WHY: Every day, children – primarily girls – as young as 10 are being manipulated and sold into prostitution in Los Angeles County and in counties statewide. The pimps and johns who buy and sell children for sex, however, often are not arrested and prosecuted. Even when they are, they typically face minimal penalties. This is not consensual sex; it is child molestation and rape, and the punishment should fit the crime.
To learn more about Los Angeles County’s efforts to combat child sex trafficking, visit Knabe.com

Knabe, Ridley-Thomas Call for Stronger Penalties for Adults Soliciting Sex From Children

In an unprecedented step in the fight against sex trafficking, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe are calling on state legislators to dramatically stiffen penalties for adults convicted of soliciting sex from children.  There have been numerous efforts over the past several years to combat the growing scourge of sex trafficking, but the majority of those efforts at the local and state level have focused either on the pimps who exploit the girls, or on providing treatment and help for the victims. While these efforts are to be applauded, there is a loophole that must be closed with regard to the so-called “Johns” – whose punishment should fit their crime, according to a board motion by Ridley-Thomas and Knabe.

Every day, children – primarily girls – as young as 10 years-old are being coerced and sold into prostitution in Los Angeles County and in counties throughout the state. According to experts in the field, the average life expectancy of these children once they enter the sex trade is seven years, due to the ravages of HIV/Aids and the violence to which they are regularly subjected. The men who solicit sex from children, however, often are not arrested and prosecuted, and even when they are, typically face only a proverbial slap on the wrist. But this is not consensual sex; it is child molestation and rape, and the punishment should fit the crime. Only the state legislature, however, can mandate criminal penalties.

The motion, to be presented Tuesday, authored by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Knabe, asks lawmakers to amend the state penal code to make paying for sex a felony, rather than a misdemeanor, if the victim is a minor; requires the “customers” to register as sex offenders, and increases the fine from $1,000 to $10,000. It also calls on law enforcement to refocus its priorities and actively arrest and prosecute these predators.

“I am proud of the work Los Angeles County has done over the past 18 months to bring awareness to the horrific crime of child sex trafficking,” said Knabe.  “However, in addition to doing all we can to protect the young victims, we must aggressively penalize those who solicit girls for sex and ensure they are the ones prosecuted, not the victims.”

In addition, the motion calls on the board to support federal legislation currently under consideration that would strengthen federal laws against child sex trafficking.

Chairman Ridley-Thomas emphasized that all levels of government and law enforcement must work together to protect these children, mainly girls, from being exploited and terrorized. While children cannot legally consent to sex, they are often charged with a prostitution related offense and become enmeshed in the criminal justice system.

“This is not a victimless crime,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas.  “These are children who are being exploited for the enjoyment of unscrupulous men. It is our duty to stop children from being sexually assaulted. California should have the toughest laws in the nation that are designed to deter “Johns” from sexually exploiting children.”