Beshear, AGs Support Federal Law Giving States More Authority to Fight Human Trafficking Online
Attorney General Andy Beshear and a coalition of 20 other state attorneys general filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of a federal law that gives states greater authority to hold human traffickers accountable.
An amicus brief filed this week urges the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to uphold a lower court dismissal of a constitutional challenge to the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA).
The act allows state prosecutors to take legal action against websites that host sex-trafficking ads, pursue criminals who deliberately facilitate trafficking online and file civil suits against anyone violating federal prostitution laws.
“When this act became law, many online ads promoting human trafficking immediately stopped,” said Beshear. “We owe it to each victim to ensure our laws keep these websites shut down and allow states to hold accountable those who commit these horrendous crimes.”
Last year, Beshear praised the passage of FOSTA, which modified the 1996 Communications Decency Act and closed a loophole for online companies, such as Backpage, that profited from sex trafficking through online advertisements and message boards. Before FOSTA, federal law prevented the investigation and prosecution of these companies by state, territorial and local authorities.
Attorneys general in neighboring states Indiana, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia joined Beshear in filing the brief.
Attorney General Beshear and his office has taken action to increase human trafficking awareness and implemented strategies to hold human traffickers accountable and assist victims.
Beshear’s office, along with Catholic Charities of Louisville, received a federal grant in 2016 – the first Department of Justice grant ever awarded to a Kentucky agency to combat human trafficking. The grant provides support to the Kentucky Statewide Human Trafficking Taskforce in its efforts to develop a process for collecting and interpreting data on human trafficking and model protocols for victim-centered response, investigation and prosecution of these cases.
The funding also allowed a specially trained human trafficking investigator to be hired.
Last year, Beshear’s office was involved in more than 30 arrests or citations involving the crime.
In 2018, Beshear’s Special Prosecutions Unit secured a guilty plea from 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 20 years in prison.
As a result of Nolan’s conviction, Beshear’s office is also prosecuting northern Kentucky attorney Robert L. Poole. Poole has been indicted on 15 counts related to human trafficking, rape and enticing a witness.
To date, Beshear’s Office of Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Prevention and Prosecution has trained more than 5,000 Kentuckians on how to recognize and report human trafficking.
On Monday in Louisville, Beshear joined human trafficking prevention advocates, including law enforcement and survivors, to urge the community to help stop trafficking during the 145th Kentucky Derby and surrounding events.
Beshear said it is no fault of the Derby, but just a fact – human traffickers target large-scale sporting events to prey on victims and profit from the crime. The Office of the Attorney General published an online poster ahead of Derby to aid Kentuckians and visitors in identifying the signs of a human trafficking victim and how to report the crime.