December 12, 2017
Today, the House Judiciary Committee, led by Virginia Representative Bob Goodlatte, passed HR 1865, the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017.” This bill amends section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that has been misinterpreted to protect websites like Backpage that sell children for sex online. The bill still needs to be passed in Congress, but this is a huge step to combatting sex trafficking online!
November 20, 2017
Here is yet another case of sex trafficking in Virginia. A 40-year-old man living in California and Virginia by the name of Naeem Lateef Odums was sentenced to 40 years for sex trafficking by force. Odums used extreme physical abuse, threats, and manipulation to force “Jane Doe 1” into sex trafficking via an online website known to promote prostitution. Jane Doe 1 was forced to engage in commercial sex acts in 7 states over 9 years, and Odums tried to trick two more women as well. Sex trafficking is happening all around us and in our own backyards. We are thankful that some pimps are receiving convictions, but there is still much work to be done.
November 15, 2017
Every year, Shared Hope, a leading anti-sex trafficking organization, grades each state on the strength of its laws addressing child sex trafficking and produces legal analysis for stakeholders. On November 16, 2017, the updated report cards were released, and Virginia ranked near the bottom of the list with a score of 71 out of 100. This is an improvement from 2015 when Virginia received an ‘F’, but we still have a long way to go.
October 18, 2017
In mid-October, the FBI launched a nationwide sweep called Operation Cross Country where they have been attempting to recover children across the United States involved in sex trafficking. This operation is part of a national initiative called Innocence Lost through which the FBI was able to rescue 84 children this year alone, including a 5-year-old and a 3-month-old.
October 5, 2017
For over 15 years, Gary Gusler raised money for incarcerated women’s bonds so that they would be released and take them to his house to force them to have solicited sex. Gusler once told an inmate during a recorded phone call, “If you hire an escort in Roanoke for $250 you get her for a couple of hours but if you bond them out you can keep them all weekend.”
August 4, 2017
“A pastor, a state trooper and a convicted sex offender were among 1,000 people arrested in a monthlong period trying to sell or buy sex across the country…”
July 12, 2017
“The bill allocates $520 million over four years toward programs that aim to identify and aid victims of trafficking and prevent it from occurring.”
June 6, 2017
Odum is charged after forcing a woman into sexual slavery for nine years in Virginia and California. Internet evidence indicates he may have been exploiting other women. He now faces a potential life sentence for his crime.
June 6, 2017
Human trafficking detective debunks common misconceptions about trafficking and explains that many victims still go to school everyday and even sleep in their own beds. The truth is that every high school and many middle schools in Northern VA have been touched by human trafficking. The Department of Justice estimates “that by 2020 trafficking will surpass not only the drug trade but arms sales.”
June 5, 2017
Group uses soap to reach out to potential trafficking victims. By simply placing bars of soap with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number on the wrappers in motels and hotels around DC, one girl has already been saved.
May 23rd, 2017
After downloading and transferring hardcore child porngraph to another individual, Roanoke man is sentenced to ten years in federal prison.
May 10, 2017
54 year old man arrested for one count of abduction and two counts of human trafficking in New River Valley. Gusler is accused of exploiting women, who he would bond out of jail, into sexual acts by threatening to revoke their bond if they refused to comply.
February 17, 2017
Roanoke YMCA employee jailed for distribution of child pornography. The 22 year old woman was arrested for producing and distributing child pornography of a prepubescent boy with the intent of sharing the explicit material with those with whom she had an online relationship.
June 2, 2017
In response to being ranked 15th in the country for the most reported cases of human trafficking in 2016, Virginia is introducing a new law promoting education in schools about trafficking for pertinent staff members. The implementation of House Bill 2282 into Virginia schools will help protect and educate the youngest and most vulnerable victims of this heinous crime.
October 6, 2016
After years of Backpage profiting millions of dollars from trafficking adults and children through escort ads posted on the site, CEO Carl Ferrer was “arrested on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping.”
September 28, 2016
Six people from Bristol, VA, including Virginia State Trooper Randy Osborne, are charged with solicitation of prostitution after responding to a Craigslist ad.
July 20, 2016
“Virginia law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are teaming up to fight human trafficking.” Training sessions will educate state law enforcement, activists, and community stakeholders how to recognize a victim in need of intervention and how to respond.
June 29, 2016
Terrell Banker is sentenced to 13 years in federal prison, and co-defendant Laura Cook is sentenced to over four years in prison. The woman initiated contact with the 17-year-old victim, took her into her home, used illegal drugs with her, and eventually introduced her to Banker, who prostituted the runaway girl as a way to earn money.
June 17, 2016
Sex trafficker Brandon Thomas admits to running a prostitution business that operated out of hotels in Roanoke and Charlottesville. For nearly half a year, the 25-year-old trafficker “beat and threatened to beat the women, and took advantage of their drug dependencies, to compel their prostitution services.”
February 27, 2016
14-year-old Falon Smith of Stuarts Draft almost became a victim of sex trafficking when a 28-year-old man from Harrisonburg started a conversation with her over texting. After getting her parents and law enforcement involved, the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office investigated the situation and caught her predator, who planned to “abduct Smith to Mexico and make her a sex slave, or to bring her back to Harrisonburg, rape her and then kill her.”
February 14, 2015
In New Kent County, a couple is charged with federal crime of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion. A report from a truck driver leads police to find a disheveled, malnourished 20-year-old sex trafficking victim with puncture wounds and numerous burns on her abdomen, groin and back.
January 26, 2015
Street Ransom’s road to opening Virginia’s first crisis shelter for sex trafficking victims under 18 years old.