Ohio's Dirty Little Secret. My friend, Larry Bergeron of A Child's Hope International, sent me an article about blatant sex trafficking that occurs throughout Ohio. I was completely shocked to find out that Ohio doesn't even have a state law to make trafficking a felony! So much of this is combatted at the governmental levels. No law equals no prosecutions which gives traffickers the freedom and boldness to continue their evils. This was the same issue in Moldova. When I asked the government officials how many sex traffickers they had prosecuted, the answer was zero.
Ohio, you better get on the phone and bombard your Senators and Representatives about this issue. They must make trafficking a felony. Senate Bill 235 is in committee right now. This is an outrage. We should all be deeply disturbed by this:
It's illegal, but some say state lawmakers aren't doing enough to stop it.
"You may think this is all about prostitution and sex.
Surprisingly, we found people, many times children, are not only being forced to become sex slaves, but also forced into slave labor.
And, it could be happening right in your own backyard.
Ohio is often referred to as the Midwest with cornfields and solid family values.
However, the Buckeye State's image of good old fashion values has been shattered by a new report from the Trafficking In Persons Study Commission.
"It's a $44 billion a year industry. It's the second largest in a criminal enterprise in the world and the fastest growing and we don't even have a state law making it a felony," explained Debbie Porter of End Slavery Cincinnati.
Porter spent a day in Columbus in April urging state lawmakers to pass a law that will make trafficking in persons a felony offense.
"He drugged me, which I didn't know, and raped me," said Theresa Flores of Columbus. That is how Flores says her nightmare began when she was 15-years-old living in a Detroit suburb.
She says a student from her school raped her and had his cousins take pictures of the crime.
Flores says she was then blackmailed over the next two years and forced to have sex with men, with the promise that she would get the pictures back. She says they also threatened to kill her family if she didn't cooperate.
"Being locked away for person after person after person to come in until they decided to take me home," said Flores.
Flores, who now runs a shelter for child sex victims outside Columbus, went public with her story to bring more attention to human trafficking.
Jessica Donohue-Dioh with End Slavery Cincinnati says as shocking as Theresa's story is…it is not an isolated case.
"Several of the cases that we've had come up in Cincinnati have been forced labor cases. In a couple of the cases, they were recruited from other countries and brought to the U.S. on the grounds that they were going to have a wonderful opportunity here to build their life and have employment," Donohue-Dioh explained.
Donohue-Dioh says with few laws in Ohio to punish human traffickers, many are setting up shop in the state.
"They were put into housing with sometime over 15 people in a house and being charged things like $100 or $150 a week in rent. Well, they weren't being given enough work to earn enough to pay even just the weekly rent. So, what ended up happening is that they ended up being in debt bondage," added Donohue-Dioh.
Senate Bill 235 would make human trafficking a felony in the State of Ohio.
However, State Senator, Bill Seitz, from the 8th District, says he wants to be careful that the legislation doesn't target the wrong people.
"We want to target this legislation at the people we're really concerned about. The head of the tapeworm, the pimps, the organized rings of pimps who are forcing young women into these degrading activities. We want to get them, but we don't want to cast the net so wide that now we have our jails full of those who are at the bottom of the chain, those who patronize these prostitutes."
End Slavery Cincinnati says if you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, you can make an anonymous call to a national hotline.
The number is 1(888)373-7888.
In the meantime, Senate Bill 235 is still in committee at the Ohio Statehouse.
Senator Seitz says he would like to see the legislation passed by the end of the year.
If you would like to learn more about former sex-slave Theresa Flores and her story, you can read her book "Slave Across The Street". Click here to view the original channel 9 article.