- October 20, 2021
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Sexual Assault & Trafficking
Child sex trafficking is, of course, an extremely serious crime with potential prison sentences to match. What many don’t realize is that it’s also grounds for a civil lawsuit.
Some survivors like the idea of suing their traffickers, while others are hesitant for a variety of reasons, from emotional complications to fear of retaliation. From a legal perspective, suing a sex trafficker directly is certainly an option, but not the most practical one. The reason is that most of these criminals, especially those who’ve been caught, convicted, and jailed, will never be able to pay what they owe to their victims.
Fortunately, under the law, any person or business that knowingly profits off of enabling child sex trafficking can also be sued for child sex trafficking. Common culprits include hotels that harbor pimping and websites that host ads for underage commercial sex. These sites were once off limits for lawsuits, but that’s changed since the passage of SESTA/FOSTA.
Companies like these are much more likely to be able to compensate survivors and fund their recovery process than individual traffickers. Suing companies for their complicity in child sex trafficking can also help drive industry-wide change and make it harder for sex traffickers to get away with what they do in the future.
Several Suspected Child Sex Traffickers Were Brought Closer to Justice Last Month
Child sex trafficking is a serious and pervasive problem in Georgia, and many victims spend months or years under the control of their abusers without getting the help they deserve. However, this does not mean that there is no help to be had, or that sex traffickers can never be brought to justice.
In mid-September, two men, Theodore Thomas Browne and Christopher Darren Weldon, were indicted in Clayton County for human trafficking and several related sex crimes involving underage victims. Between them, they’re facing up to 200 years of prison time.
Just a few days later in Greene County, Jevarius Torel Wisdom pled guilty to charges of trafficking a 17-year-old girl for sexual servitude. He was originally identified as a suspect in 2016, when an officer who had pulled him over for a speeding ticket recognized the signs of human trafficking, thanks to modern police training.
Law and procedure are improving to better protect child sex trafficking survivors, on a criminal and civil level. The young people victimized by Browne, Weldon, and Wisdom can hopefully take some satisfaction in watching them face criminal justice, and can also file suits against all complicit parties in civil court.
Many Survivors of Child Sex Trafficking Do Not Know Their Rights
Some survivors of underage sex trafficking fight to escape or call for rescue, but have no idea that they’re entitled to more than just seeing their abusers convicted and sentenced. Others may not even realize that what they experienced was sex trafficking until years later.
If anyone has ever tried to subject you to sexual contact of any kind while you were under the age of 18, successfully or unsuccessfully, for the purpose of gaining money or some other benefit, know that you are a survivor of child sex trafficking. It doesn’t matter whether you were in a relationship with the person, or whether you verbally agreed at the time for any reason.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have been transported over state lines, or any distance at all, for your exploitation to count as trafficking. Even if you have since turned 18, what happened to you while you were a minor was still child sex trafficking, and you can sue complicit parties accordingly.
To talk to a lawyer about your options for pursuing justice and recovery, contact The Stoddard Firm by phone or chat today.