A newly established Alaska task force on sex trafficking heard expert testimony that the teenage victims often are too afraid and embarrassed, and sometimes too addicted to drugs, to come forward. Among the most vulnerable are chronic runaways whose own parents have quit looking for them, said Detective Sgt. Kathy Lacey, who heads the Anchorage Police Department’s vice unit.
Jolene Goeden, an FBI special agent in Anchorage who investigates sex crimes, said there have been seven federal prosecutions of human trafficking cases, noting that not all of them were filed as trafficking cases. In the seven cases, 105 trafficking victims were identified. The state task force aims to gauge the prevalence of human trafficking and prostitution in Alaska, as well as the services available to help victims.
The legislation that established the task force also called for removing the label of “prostitute” from victims and changing court procedures to expedite justice and make the process easier on victims. Authorities say victims’ shame, fear of repercussions and poor support structures are some of the reasons sex trafficking goes unreported.
Learn more at Rachel D’oro’s Peninsula Clarion article: Task force looks at human trafficking.