Attorney General Andy Beshear says part of combating human trafficking is helping Kentuckians understand how to identify trafficking victims and report the crime.
Now, he is launching an initiative with state and local partners to help raise awareness of human trafficking – whose victims, according to Beshear, are often the most vulnerable in Kentucky’s communities.
The initiative calls on high school juniors and seniors, and all college students to create a logo for Kentucky’s Human Trafficking Taskforce, which Beshear’s office and Catholic Charities of Louisville co-chair.
Primary task force partners include the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, Kentucky State Police and Lexington Police Department. Overall membership of the task force includes nearly 50 agencies.
“Human trafficking is a growing and gruesome crime in the Commonwealth and in order to combat it, we need the help of every community to recognize what it is and to report it,” Beshear said. “Our logo initiative not only engages young adults to help us further promote awareness through our taskforce, but also teaches them that victims of human trafficking are often the most vulnerable in our communities – victims of abuse and violence, runaways, refugees, immigrants or those who are homeless.”
Human trafficking is the second-largest criminal enterprise in the world, Beshear said.
In the attorney general’s office, the Office of Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Prevention and Prosecution operates to assist victims, prosecutors and law enforcement across the state in identifying and responding to these cases and leads the efforts of the Statewide Human Trafficking Taskforce.
The Office of Victims Advocacy provides direct advocacy services to victims of trafficking as they work to navigate the legal system and find healing and recovery from the trauma.
In the first four months of 2018, Beshear’s office arrested two Louisville men and a Louisville woman on human trafficking charges involving two 16-year-old girls, and a Kansas man who attempted to purchase a Kentucky child for $250 and in exchange for drugs in a separate case. The office also secured the guilty plea of a Lawrenceburg man in March on human trafficking charges.
In February, Beshear’s office secured the guilty plea of former Campbell County District Judge Timothy Nolan on numerous felony charges, including human trafficking of adults, promoting human trafficking of minors and unlawful transaction with minors. Nolan was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison.
Beshear’s office and Catholic Charities of Louisville received a federal grant that has allowed the hiring of the state’s first full-time human trafficking investigator and training of more than 4,000 law enforcement officers, health care employees, first responders, inspectors and community members across the state.
The grant is funding the logo initiative.
Amy Nace-DeGonda, with Catholic Charities of Louisville, said the purpose of the logo is to support the anti-human trafficking movement in Kentucky.
“Both adults and children can be coerced into sex or labor trafficking and awareness of this is key,” Nace-DeGonda said. “With raised awareness of what trafficking is, the indicators of trafficking, prevention can occur as well as those who have been trafficked can reach needed services. I appreciate this effort being done throughout the state.”
In promoting the logo initiative, the attorney general’s office and Catholic Charities of Louisville are joined by Free2Hope, Women of the Well Ministries, the Kristy Love Foundation and the University of Louisville, Kent School of Social Work.
The deadline to submit a logo is Oct. 8. For more details go to www.ag.ky.gov.
Signs of a Victim of Human Trafficking
There is no single indicator of human trafficking, but a combination of these signs are common in victims:
· Travel together and have identical tattoos, branding.
· Unable to identify what town or state they are in or where they are staying.
· Lack official identification documents and personal possessions.
· Appears malnourished and has physical injuries.
· Avoids eye contact and seems to adhere to limited, scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction.
· Loss of sense of time.
· Has possession of multiple pre-paid credit cards.
Reporting Human Trafficking
Beshear said it is the law to report any suspected case of child trafficking, and that everyone has a role to play in preventing human trafficking.
· If a human trafficking victim is in immediate danger dial 911.
· To report suspected human trafficking of a child, call 877-KYSAFE1.
· Victims of human trafficking may also call the National Human Trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888 or text BEFREE. Interpreters are available for callers.