- February 2, 2021
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Sexual Assault & Trafficking
Over the past year or so, Coweta County has become a significant focus in Georgia’s fight against sex trafficking. By searching social media for prostitution ads and working closely with organizations like the Human Exploitation Investigations Group and Homeland Security’s Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Group, local law enforcement has been able to set up several stings at Coweta County hotels.
In November of 2019, officers made 15 arrests, two of them for pimping, one for pandering — the legal term for recruiting prostitutes and facilitating prostitution. Two possible victims were also taken into custody. Another, larger sting in June of 2020 resulted in 24 arrests, three of them for pimping, and the rescue of one recognized human trafficking victim. A third in September of 2020 yielded 18 arrests, including one for pimping and nine for pandering, and the rescue of four likely victims.
Unfortunately, even with regular undercover police stings, sex traffickers continue to advertise and do business in Coweta County.
Holding Complicit Hotels Accountable Can Help Compensate Victims and Prevent Future Trafficking
People who recruit, pimp, and use minors for sex obviously deserve to be caught and held accountable in every possible way. Unfortunately, these people are easily replaced within the framework of the sex trafficking industry and rarely have the resources to compensate their victims, so legal action against them can only go so far toward solving the problem.
Hotels, on the other hand, form a key component of most sex trafficking operations, profit greatly from enabling sex trafficking, and usually have enough capital at any given time to pay out worthwhile settlements. If all landowners, especially hotel owners, were properly motivated to stop sex trafficking from occurring on their property, sex trafficking itself would become a much more difficult, dangerous, and cost-prohibitive practice.
Legally, anyone who knowingly enables sex trafficking can be charged with sex trafficking, hotel owners and managers included, but too often their guilt is overlooked.
The Stoddard Firm helps sex trafficking survivors pursue civil suits against both their most direct abusers and the hotels that harbor them.
Minors Used for Commercial Sex Are Automatically Recognized as Sex Trafficking Victims Under Georgia Law
Sex trafficking victims often avoid seeking help due to the fear of being charged with prostitution. Although police often do carry out their stings by arresting everyone immediately involved in the prostitution being investigated, and then determining who the victims are later, underage prostitutes have fairly clear-cut status as victims under Georgia law.
The use of a person under the age of 18 for a commercial sex act is automatically defined as human trafficking, regardless of what (if any) obvious forms of coercion were used. Trafficking in minors, or harboring trafficking in minors, is both a felony under criminal law and grounds for a civil suit.
If you are one of the underage trafficking victims recently rescued from Coweta County hotels – or if you were forced to work as a prostitute by force (as may be the case with Erica Foster, Naomi Brown-Thomas, Ladrekia Freeman, Milija Bolston, Destinee Hardin, and De’ja Lumpkin), or if you are still being trafficked and looking for a way out, The Stoddard Firm can help you access the resources you need to build a new life.