- April 22, 2021
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Sexual Assault & Trafficking
Over the course of two nights at the end of last month, undercover police officers responded to prostitution advertisements and set up meetings at two hotels in Fayette County, one in Peachtree City and one in Fayetteville, as part of a coordinated human trafficking sting.
Of the 21 women and men arrested in the sting, however, only four are suspected of pimping. Of the rest, 16 are being held only on prostitution and drug possession charges, and one on charges of prostitution and identity fraud.
The stated purpose of the sting was to discourage human trafficking and identify victims, and there’s a good chance that most if not all of those 17 non-pimping suspects qualify.
The Legal Status of Sex Trafficking Survivors Is Improving, Albeit Slowly
The practice of arresting possible sex trafficking victims can make the sex trafficking problem worse, by encouraging distrust of law enforcement and making it more difficult for victims to achieve independence due their criminal records. However, it seems that honest efforts are being made at eventually distinguishing between the perpetrators and victims brought in during the Fayette County sting.
Detainees were reportedly interviewed on site by a victim advocacy group, and the Fayetteville police captain has expressed confidence that the district attorney will consider all the evidence to identify victims and treat them appropriately.
Hopefully, the presence of all the detainees during the process will also make it easier to prosecute those guilty of sex trafficking.
Underage Individuals Can No Longer Be Charged with Prostitution in Georgia
One of the relatively recent advancements in the legal rights of sex trafficking survivors in Georgia has been the elimination of prostitution charges for minors. The use of a minor for commercial sex in Georgia is now automatically considered sex trafficking, and the minor is automatically considered a victim.
Though none of the detainees from the Fayette County sting are believed to be underage, this change in the law does reflect a larger change in thinking, and a greater willingness to view sex trafficking victims as the victims they are. Additionally, if any underage victims of any Fayette County sex trafficking operations do emerge, they will have an advantage in taking legal action against their traffickers.
If You’ve Been Coerced into Commercial Sex Acts in Any Way, You Can Seek Compensation in Civil Court
Put simply, sex trafficking means willingly benefiting from the coerced sex acts of another person (other than by being involved in those acts directly). The coercion can take many forms, from physical force to financial control to emotional abuse. In the case of minors, coercion is assumed and needs no proof.
Aside from the slowly improving criminal justice response to sex trafficking, survivors of all ages do have a great deal of power to pursue justice via civil law, though many don’t know it.
Sex trafficking is always grounds for a lawsuit as well as criminal prosecution, and the term “sex trafficking” includes many forms of sex trafficking participation that are often overlooked. For example, although the hotels involved in the Fayette County sting reportedly cooperated completely once contacted by police, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they weren’t previously cooperating with sex traffickers when it was convenient or profitable for them.
Because officers arranged the sting by responding to prostitution ads online, the platforms that profited from hosting those ads may be liable as well under another recent change in the law. There may also be other complicit parties. such as salons and lingerie sellers.
If you are one of the people who was charged with prostitution after the Fayette County sex trafficking sting, and you were acting under coercion, or if you have ever been coerced into performing sex acts for someone else’s enrichment, reach out to The Stoddard firm to learn about your options.