Friday, October 28, 2011

In the News: Sex Trafficking of Girls in Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee

Two stories in the news this week shed light on the disturbing realities of sex trafficking in our city, and we wanted to share.A man in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has been charged with sex trafficking of children. According to a news article:

Sean Patrick recruited, sheltered, and turned prostitutes by force. He sent them to Chicago using bus transportation or drove them himself in a 1992 gold Chevrolet conversion van. The van reportedly was inscribed with the words “ho hauler” on the quarter front panel. These girls were property to him. Allegedly, if one of the young women missed the bus, he would choke them, stomp on them, and make them stand naked next to his “ho hauler.” Patrick paid the court $10,000 from the trafficking operation and gave up his van. He plead guilty to all charges and could face life in prison.

Another story broke about a couple from Tennessee has been charged with the sex trafficking of an underage girl they met on Facebook. Jessica Lidy and Jarrod Sanford were arrested after a 15-year-old girl told gas station employees in Lincoln that she was being held against her will in their truck. Lidy and Sanford had transported the teenage girl into Illinois to be prostituted. The couple claims that they brought her with them on trips to Illinois where Lidy engaged in the acts of prostitution alone. The U.S. Department of Justice has charged the couple with transportation of a minor to engage in prostitution.

Though media attention and circumstances differ, these stories share several elements. People are taking advantage of underage girls’ vulnerability. The most disturbing aspect of both stories is that men in our state are ready and willing to pay for girls. The reason Sean Patrick, Jessica Lidy, and Jarrod Sanford transported the girls they held captive to Illinois is because of the consistent demand for prostitution. As long as there are men willing to pay money in our city, these crimes will never end.

We applaud these efforts by law enforcement to go after pimps and traffickers. While these pimps are undoubtedly guilty of exploiting young women, the men who bought sex from these girls are fueling the never-ending cycle. No surprisingly, these news reports do not address the johns (men who buy sex). The first step in terminating this vicious cycle and ending demand in our city is simply awareness.

To continue your awareness of sex trafficking in Chicago, sign up for our action alerts here.

-This post was written by Allyson Matvey, a CAASE intern.

Photo by sciondriver.