- September 1, 2021
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Sexual Assault & Trafficking
In the summer of 2019, a 16-year-old girl reported to police that she had been held in forced sexual servitude by the Inglewood Family Gang, a Georgia chapter of the larger criminal organization best known as the Bloods. According to the survivor’s account, she was drugged, physically abused, and forced to have sex with multiple men to raise money for the gang over the course of two months, before she escaped and reached help.
Many sex trafficking victims are instilled with so much fear of their abusers and/or police that they go years without attempting escape, but thanks to the chance this girl took, and the response of the Albany police and Georgia Bureau of Investigation, she is now free of her captors and a total of eight men have been indicted for sex trafficking of a minor, in addition to other charges.
Of course, the trauma of sex trafficking, and especially underage sexual abuse, can last a lifetime, and catching the perpetrators is only one factor in the recovery process. This girl — by now an adult woman — is presumably facing the task of rebuilding her life, something that requires resources as well as time. Though she may not know it, she has grounds to sue for the compensation she needs in civil court.
Criminal Proceedings Are Focused on the Gang and Its Members
As the Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation puts it, “Conducting human trafficking and criminal street gang investigations are top priorities for the GBI.” Georgia’s attorney general has also expressed particular interest in this case as “a nexus between gangs and human trafficking,” and that interest is reflected in the results that are visible so far.
Though it took two years, and will no doubt take a while longer yet in court, the identification of eight human trafficking suspects at once is an uncommonly large accomplishment in the fight against sexual violence. The indictments are quite extensive as well, with the eight suspects now facing a collective total of 54 criminal charges. Further investigation also seems to be ongoing into the gang and the possible existence of other victims.
However, the focus of criminal law is and always has been stopping, punishing, and ideally preventing crime, not helping the victims of crimes that have already happened. For that, survivors must turn to civil law.
The Guilt of Complicit Businesses Should Not Be Overlooked
The woman who escaped from the Inglewood Family Gang does have the legal option of suing the eight men charged with trafficking her. Civil and criminal proceedings can happen at the same time, addressing the same actions and events, without interfering with each other. The reason suing traffickers and rapists isn’t more common is that these individual perpetrators usually don’t have the money to pay their victims, and can’t earn that money while in prison, so obtaining a civil judgement against them isn’t very helpful.
To collect actual compensation, this survivor would be better off looking to the so-called legitimate businesses that knowingly profited off of her exploitation. These entities are legally just as guilty, much more likely to be able to pay, and are often overlooked by the criminal justice system. A civil suit is the best way to prevent them from keeping their profits and continuing to enable sex trafficking in the future.
The investigation into this woman’s abuse found that she had been prostituted in hotel and motel rooms and advertised on websites. The hospitality companies and online ad platforms that hosted this activity are likely liable for the harm that was done to her.
If you are the woman who escaped from the Inglewood Family Gang, or if you have otherwise been affected by sex trafficking in Georgia, reach out to The Stoddard Firm to learn about your rights.