Category Archives: Missing

Don’t Victimize Children In Texas

.jpg photo of child victimizing graphic
Kedrick Nelms, 28, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for sex trafficking a 14-year-old girl.

AG Paxton’s Office, Travis County DA
Margaret Moore Obtain Conviction
in Child Sex Trafficking Case

AUSTIN, TX  –  Resulting from a joint effort by his office, the Travis County District Attorney’s office, and the Texas Department of Public Safety, Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that a Travis County District Court sentenced Kedrick Nelms, 28, to 40 years in prison for sex trafficking a 14-year-old girl.

On June 20, a Travis County jury found Nelms guilty of trafficking of persons and of compelling prostitution of a minor, both first-degree felonies.  Nelms opted to have the judge determine his punishment.

The attorney general’s Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime section, led by Deputy Criminal Chief Kirsta Melton and Assistant Attorney General Melissa Holman, assisted the prosecution of the case at the invitation of Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore.  They were joined at the trial by Travis County Assistant District Attorney Josh Reno.

The Texas Department of Public Safety conducted the investigation that led to the successful prosecution of Nelms.

“As a result of this successful, first-of-its-kind partnership between my office, the Travis County District Attorney’s office and the Texas Department of Public Safety, a dangerous and despicable human trafficker has been brought to justice,” Attorney General Paxton said.  “I’m grateful to the prosecutors and our law enforcement partners for their tireless work on this collaborative effort.  My office will continue to work to protect victims from sex trafficking and prosecute those who profit from the exploitation of human beings.”

Travis County District Attorney Moore said: “I commend the attorney general and his assistants for this outstanding prosecution.  I am proud to have partnered in this exemplary collaboration.”

Nelms used a social media app called Tagged to lure his underage victim into a relationship, then introduced her to his girlfriend, Kirsten Violette, who conspired with Nelms to traffick the girl for prostitution in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio in June 2016.

It took a jury one hour to return guilty verdicts on both charges against Nelms.

Separately, Violette pleaded guilty this week to trafficking of persons and faces a punishment hearing in August.

Attorney General Paxton has made combating human trafficking a top priority.  Two years ago, he launched his office’s Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime section, which prosecutes human traffickers across the state.

In April, the section’s prosecution of Backpage.com resulted in the company pleading guilty to human trafficking in Texas and its CEO, Carl Ferrer, pleading guilty to money laundering.

The attorney general’s office also assisted the U.S. Department of Justice with permanently shutting down the website, which was considered the largest online sex trafficking marketplace in the world.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Paxton unveiled a powerful training video to teach Texans how to spot and report suspected human trafficking activity.

Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking” is available for viewing online at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/human-trafficking

LESS VIABLE OPTIONS FOR TRAFFICKED CHILDREN

.jpg photo of U.S. Department of Justice Building
United States Department of Justice Building

Trouble Ahead for Wrongly Criminalized
Trafficking Victims

In a major blow to survivors of human trafficking, the US Department of Justice has announced that it will no longer allow funding to be used to help survivors get legal representation to clear their criminal records that resulted from their victimization. The decision by the Office for Victims of Crime will affect $77 million of human trafficking grants this year.

The abrupt policy reversal was initiated by the Trump administration and goes against the consensus of survivors, advocates, and law enforcement.  The new funding restrictions are expected to go into effect in just a couple of weeks.

In an opinion piece in The Hill, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, and Kate Mogulescu, an Assistant Professor of Clinical Law at Brooklyn Law School, write:

It is widely acknowledged that victims are frequently arrested when they are trafficked.  A 2016 National Survivor Network survey found that over 91 percent of respondents reported having been arrested, over 40 percent reported being arrested 9 times or more.

No one questions the detrimental impact this has on survivors’ ability to move forward.  Criminal records act as concrete barriers for survivors, and lead to denial of employment, housing, and other services.  Furthermore, the message to survivors living with criminal records because of their trafficking is clear — you did something wrong, you deserve this, this will live with you forever.

That’s why Manhattan prosecutors screen every prostitution arrest for evidence of trafficking and dismiss prostitution cases after individuals receive counseling sessions and other services.

But the most effective legal response to correct the injustice of past convictions is vacatur or expungement, laws that provide survivors a way to clear their record of charges they were convicted of that were a result of trafficking.  New York was the first state to pass such a law in 2009, and almost every state in the country has taken some steps toward relieving survivors of the burden of a criminal record since then.

In one example, Vance and Mogulescu point to the case of a young woman who was sex trafficked for five years in New York, starting when she was just 16.  During that time, she was arrested for prostitution six times.

Yet, because of collaboration between the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Brooklyn Law School, her convictions were vacated, ensuring that she would she would not be haunted by them for the rest of her life.

Prosecutors have come to rely on partner organizations to help identify trafficking victims and bring vacatur motions or expungement petitions.  Under the new funding rules, victims who can’t access legal representation will be forced to file petitions on their own — a significant burden to those seeking justice.

As Vance and Mogulescu conclude, this policy will have tremendous impact on the ability for trafficking survivors to simply live their lives:

“Funding for this work is critical — for the survivor trafficked into prostitution over two decades ago, who has focused on her education, earned a Masters degree in counseling, but is prohibited from taking a state licensure exam because of her criminal record;  for the survivor parent of a nine-year-old child who faces humiliation at being fingerprinted to chaperone a school trip;  for the survivor who secures an entry level service sector job but has the offer rescinded when a background check reveals her criminal record.”

Danville VA AMBER ALERT Cancelled

Baby Emma found safe and Father arrested

DANVILLE, VA  –  The search for a missing Danville, Virginia infant believed to be in extreme danger is over.

  • NC tag EKZ-5093
  • 2007 Gold Suzuki four-door Forenza
  • 7-month-old Emma Grace Kennedy.
  • Blond, with blue eyes, and weighing about 18 pounds
  • She was last seen wearing a light blue onesie.
  • Last seen at Kwik Stop on Riverside Drive in Danville.

Emma Grace Kennedy, who is seven months old, appeared to be in good health and was being evaluated at a hospital, the Danville Police Department in Virginia said in a news release.

.jpg photo of suspect in Amber Alert
Carl Ray Kennedy, a registered sex offender in North Carolina and could be armed with a knife

Carl Ray Kennedy, the girl’s father, was arrested with the baby in Randleman, North Carolina, about 65 miles south of where the abduction took place Sunday evening at a gas station in Danville, police said.

Virginia State Police had issued an Amber Alert early Monday stating that the infant was in “extreme danger.”

Kennedy, 51, is a registered sex offender with a long criminal history, police said.

Before the alleged abduction, he was out of jail on a $250,000 bond on a drug distribution charge.

Danville VA AMBER ALERT

Man wanted in Danville, Virginia Amber Alert possibly sighted in North Carolina

Danville, VA – JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) — The search for a missing Danville, Virginia infant believed to be in extreme danger continues.

  • NC tag EKZ-5093
  • 2007 Gold Suzuki four-door Forenza
  • 7-month-old Emma Grace Kennedy.
  • Blond, with blue eyes, and weighing about 18 pounds
  • She was last seen wearing a light blue onesie.
  • Last seen at Kwik Stop on Riverside Drive in Danville.
.jpg photo of suspect in Amber Alert
Carl Ray Kennedy, a registered sex offender in North Carolina and could be armed with a knife

Seven month-old Emma Grace Kennedy is believed to have been abducted by Carl Ray Kennedy on Sunday night at the Kwik Stop on Riverside Drive in Danville, Virginia, which is about three hours from the Tri-Cities.

Carl Ray Kennedy was possibly sighted in the area of Seven Springs, North Carolina around 6:30 p.m. Monday night and may possibly he headed to Oak Island, North Carolina.

Virginia State Police also releasing new license plate information: NC tag EKZ-5093, traveling in a 2007 Gold Suzuki four-door Forenza.

He was last seen wearing a brown shirt, gray pants, with gray hair and green eyes.

He has a tattoo of a skull on his left forearm a tattoo of a skull with bandana over the mouth on right forearm, an eye tattoo on the back of his right hand, an upper right arm tattoo of a pitbull with American bulldog written under it and a wizard on his left upper arm.

Kennedy is also a registered sex offender in North Carolina and could be armed with a knife.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Danville Police Department at 434-799-5111 or Virginia State Police at 1-800-822-4453.

Woman accused of beating toddler, saying she wanted to kill him — WDTN

Babysitter Arrested For Brutal Abuse Of Toddler

A Pennsylvania woman has been jailed and charged by Waynesboro police after a 1-year-old boy was treated in March for a number of injuries.

Jessica Samick, 21, of Greencastle, is charged with a felony count of endangering the welfare of a child and a misdemeanor count of simple assault.

According to court documents, the child’s mother filed a report of child abuse in March after her toddler was in Samick’s care for several days in Waynesboro. She told police she had a difficult time getting Samick to return her son and noticed bruising on his face once he was finally back in her care.

via Woman accused of beating toddler, saying she wanted to kill him — WDTN