- February 25, 2022
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Sexual Assault & Trafficking
Distrust of law enforcement is one of the toughest obstacles preventing countless victims from escaping forced sexual servitude.
While some sex trafficking victims are kept guarded at all times, many others have frequent physical opportunities to escape and alert the police, but do not trust that this will improve their situation. Common reasons include:
- Uncertainty that what is happening to them qualifies as sex trafficking
- Fear of being returned to an abusive home
- Belief that being used for commercial sex makes them criminals themselves
- Addiction to illegal substances, often imposed or encouraged by a trafficker
- General expectation of violence and dishonesty from authority figures
Some of these sources of distrust can be combatted with awareness campaigns that teach possible victims about how to recognize sex trafficking techniques, what their rights are under the law, and what law enforcement is doing to help people like them.
However, the hardest type of distrust to dispel is distrust that has been validated by reality.
Whenever a member of law enforcement deliberately enables or takes part in sex trafficking, they not only harm their direct victims, they threaten all efforts to help victims of sex trafficking.
The only way to mitigate this damage is to enforce accountability every single time, by every legal means, both criminal and civil. Present and future sex trafficking victims deserve to trust that members of law enforcement will not take advantage of them and get away with it — and to have that trust validated by reality.
DeKalb County Deputy Derrick Gardner Has Been Charged with Sex Trafficking
One of these betrayals of public trust has apparently just occurred in DeKalb County, coming to light this February.
Deputy Derrick Gardner has been arrested and charged with sex trafficking and an array of related offenses, including rape, child molestation, and enticement.
It would be thoroughly understandable for sex trafficking victims to take Gardner’s alleged actions as a reason never to call police for help. Yet his arrest was reportedly made possible by one unnamed survivor’s willingness to do exactly that.
According to the statement from the DeKalb County Police Department, the investigation began with a call to 911, reporting a rape. Gardner was fired and arrested the same day.
Assuming these early reports are factual, the process of accountability appears to be well underway in this case. Perhaps other victims will even gain confidence in calling 911 as a result, rather than lose it.
Criminal charges are only part of the justice that is called for here, however. Criminal law has no methods for compensating victims and supporting their recovery. Only civil law does that.
Sex Trafficking Usually Requires Many Complicit Parties
The most obvious way to pursue justice under civil law would be for Gardner’s victims to sue him directly. He’s not the only possible defendant, however.
Sex trafficking almost always requires infrastructure and support. Any person or organization that knowingly provides that support can be sued, even if they do not participate in any actual sexual abuse or kidnapping. Other forms of participation include providing space, transportation, or advertising.
Seeking out complicit parties, like hotels and ad platforms, serves a triple purpose:
- It identifies hidden perpetrators who might otherwise slip by unnoticed.
- It disrupts sex trafficking infrastructure.
- It gives survivors a chance at more complete compensation than an individual perpetrator would be able to pay.
Most of the details of Gardner’s alleged activities are not yet public, including whether he used any of the resources available to him as a deputy to recruit or control his victims, or whether he had accomplices in other industries. What’s almost certain is that there’s guilt to go around.
If you have been sexually exploited by former deputy Gardner, or by any other person or institution in Georgia, call The Stoddard Firm to discuss how we can help you take your life back.