Category Archives: Child Sex Slavery

Don’t Victimize Children In Texas

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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

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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.”

Marietta GA Man Asks To Buy Child From Grandmother

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Einodd Samimi, of Marietta Georgia.

He followed her from Walmart to Kroger,
offering to buy her granddaughter,
GA cops say

A strange man kept following a woman and her granddaughter as they shopped in Cobb County, Georgia — and police say she soon realized the man wasn’t there just to buy merchandise.

Police say the woman and her granddaughter were shopping at a Kroger grocery store on Roswell Road on Monday night when Einodd Samimi, of Marietta, began making “inappropriate comments” and following them around the store, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

According to police, Samimi commented about “how pretty the child’s hair was” and at one point offered to buy the 7-year-old for $200, WXIA reported.

The woman told police it was the second time he’d allegedly offered to purchase the child that day, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.  The grandma told police the same man had offered her $100 to “have” the little girl earlier that same night in a Walmart, the paper reported.

Backpage And Carl Ferrer Already Paying

Backpage.com Pleads Guilty to
Human Trafficking in Texas

AUSTIN, TX  –  Attorney General Ken Paxton announced today that his office’s prosecution of Backpage.com has resulted in the company pleading guilty to human trafficking in Texas and its CEO Carl Ferrer pleading guilty to money laundering.  This comes less than a week after the attorney general’s office assisted the Department of Justice with permanently shutting down the website.

Ferrer will be sentenced to up to five years in prison once he’s fulfilled the terms of his plea agreement with Attorney General Paxton’s office.  His cooperation in the ongoing investigation into Backpage could lead to other criminal charges against individuals associated with the company.

As the largest online sex trafficking marketplace in the world, Backpage facilitated the sex trafficking of innocent women and children through sites it ran for 943 locations in 97 countries and 17 languages.  It was involved in 73 percent of all child trafficking cases reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

“Taking down Backpage and obtaining a criminal conviction for the company and its CEO represents a significant victory in the fight against human trafficking in Texas and around the world,” Attorney General Paxton said.  “I want to thank the Attorney General of California, the U.S. Department of Justice, federal law enforcement officials, Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez, and the prosecutors and law enforcement in my office for their outstanding collaborative work on this investigation and prosecution.”

In October 2016, Attorney General Paxton’s Law Enforcement Division arrested Ferrer in Houston.  It also executed a search warrant on the Dallas headquarters of Backpage, uncovering evidence that was critical in building a case against Ferrer and the company.

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 around the state of Texas.  Earlier this year, he unveiled a powerful training video to teach Texans how to spot and report suspected human trafficking activity.

President Trump yesterday signed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 into law, making it easier for law enforcement to take legal action against any websites that enable human trafficking.

View Attorney General Paxton’s statement on Backpage here: https://bit.ly/2IHoE31

Be The Difference In Human Trafficking

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Prevent, Recognize and Report human trafficking.

TX AG Paxton Unveils New Training Video
to Mobilize Texans in the Fight Against
Human Trafficking

AUSTIN, TX  –  Attorney General Ken Paxton today introduced a new comprehensive training video to educate and mobilize all Texans in the fight against human trafficking.  The nearly hour-long video was developed over the last year by the attorney general’s Human Trafficking/Transnational Organized Crime (HTTOC) section and debuted during a public screening at the Austin ISD Performing Arts Center.

“This remarkable training video represents my deep conviction to inform, educate and empower Texans to prevent, recognize and report human trafficking,” Attorney General Paxton said.  “‘Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking’ was created to enlist citizens from every walk of life to help Texas in its nationwide leadership role to combat and ultimately eliminate this horrific and dehumanizing crime.”

Texas is responsible for the nation’s second highest number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and recent research indicates that at any given time there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in the state.

At the screening, Attorney General Paxton announced that his office is providing the human trafficking training video to all Texas state agencies, with the potential of reaching 315,000 state employees.  The video is mandatory viewing for the 4,000 employees of the attorney general’s office.  “I am challenging my fellow state agency heads to follow suit,” he said.

Attorney General Paxton applauded the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for being the first state agency to use the video in the training of all 8,000 of its front-line caseworkers.

Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking” shares the compelling and often deeply emotional stories of human trafficking from the perspective of survivors, experts, law enforcement, and good Samaritans, including a Texan who helped authorities shut down a major human trafficking operation in his own neighborhood of The Woodlands.  The training video is available for anyone to watch at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/human-trafficking.

Launched in January 2016, Attorney General Paxton’s HTTOC section has assisted or consulted on dozens of cases, such as the arrest of the CEO of Backpage.com, whose online “adult” ads were linked to sex trafficking of women and children.

It also partners with Truckers Against Trafficking and the Texas Trucking Association on an innovative public-private-program to put more eyes and ears on the road to catch human trafficking.  Since its inception, HTTOC has provided human trafficking awareness training to more than 15,000 people across the state of Texas.