Thursday July 25, 2024
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Artwork submitted by a student at Asbury Theological Seminary has been selected to represent the Kentucky Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force, Attorney General Andy Beshear announced today.

Nicholas T. Porritt, a second-year marriage and family therapy masters student at Asbury, won a competition hosted by Beshear to raise awareness of human trafficking by creating a logo for the task force.

Monday in Frankfort, Beshear presented Porritt with a grant-funded $1,000 scholarship and congratulated him for being selected to help Kentuckians better identify the work the task force is doing to combat human trafficking.

Beshear said Porritt’s undergraduate roommate, who runs a safe house in Malawi and helps victims of sex trafficking, served as inspiration for the design.

“I applaud Nicholas for his outstanding design that focuses on the positive reality of a life filled with hope, peace and freedom – a message that resonates with victims of human trafficking,” Beshear said. “Providing victims a way out is what drives us each day in the AG’s office. We are working with our law enforcement and community partners to arrest traffickers and help victims find hope.”

Porritt said he wants his art to help people find hope, much like how art has helped him find hope.

“I believe that all of the qualities of this logo will help those who are in this situation to see a symbol of what can be,” Porritt said. “It’s not a reflection of the struggle and pain they are in, but hope for where they will be and what they can expect of this trafficking task force.”

Porritt’s design uses a dove to symbolize freedom, peace and hope. The bird is made to look like green leaves to symbolize growth, endurance and nourishment. The olive branch symbolizes freedom as well as a place to find stability. The yellow background is symbolic of the sun and evokes growth and life.

In September, Beshear launched the logo initiative with state and local partners to help support the Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force, which Beshear’s office and Catholic Charities of Louisville co-chair.

Primary task force partners include the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, Kentucky State Police and Lexington Police Department. Overall membership of the task force includes nearly 50 agencies.

All high school juniors and seniors, and all college students were invited to enter the competition. A random panel of members of the Kentucky Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force chose the winning logo. The panel included law enforcement, victim advocates and survivor leaders.

Beshear said human trafficking is the second-largest criminal enterprise in the world and the Office of the Attorney General is focused on raising awareness of the crime, helping victims and prosecuting traffickers.

Beshear’s Office of Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Prevention and Prosecution operates to assist victims, prosecutors and law enforcement across the state in identifying and responding to these cases and leads the efforts of the Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force.

The Office of Victims Advocacy provides direct advocacy services to victims of trafficking as they work to navigate the legal system and find healing and recovery from the trauma.

Beshear’s office and Catholic Charities of Louisville received a federal grant that has allowed the hiring of the state’s first full-time human trafficking investigator and training of more than 5,000 law enforcement officers, health care employees, first responders, inspectors and community members across the state.

Beshear’s office currently has 15 open human trafficking cases, and over the course of 2018, the office has been involved in 31 arrests or citations involving the crime. In February, the office secured a 20-year sentence against former Campbell County District Judge Timothy Nolan on numerous felony charges, including human trafficking of adults and minors.

Last month, Beshear joined Rep. Dennis Keene, of Wilder, to announce legislation that would grant the Office of the Attorney General the ability to investigate crimes, like human trafficking, throughout multiple jurisdictions in the state.

If a human trafficking victim is in immediate danger dial 911 and report suspected human trafficking of a child to 877-KYSAFE1. Victims of human trafficking may call or text the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

Attorney General Andy Beshear, the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Board and the University of Louisville today announced an upcoming special screening of “I Am Jane Doe,” a worldwide documentary on child sex trafficking.

The 2017 film chronicles the battle of several American mothers on behalf of their middle-school daughters, who are victims of sex trafficking, against printed and online adult classifieds.

The film, narrated by Academy Award-nominee Jessica Chastain, will play at 6:30 p.m. on May 8 at the Clifton Center’s historic Eifler Theater in Louisville, located at 2117 Payne St. An expert panel discussion introduced by Beshear will follow the viewing of the film.

“We must continue to raise awareness on human trafficking and how it represents the worst form of abuse, often to children, in the Commonwealth,” Beshear said. “Human trafficking is increasing all over the Commonwealth, and as Kentuckians we must recognize the signs because it occurs in all our counties, cities and communities. By helping to bring this film to Kentucky, we have another opportunity to raise awareness about our obligation to prevent, identify and prosecute human trafficking cases.”

The Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Board, which is administered by the Office of the Attorney General, is co-sponsoring the film – currently only being shown in larger cities worldwide – through the Child Victims’ Trust Fund.

The Fund last year helped pay for nearly 400 child sexual abuse forensic exams and helped administer $160,000 in statewide grants aimed at teaching parents how to discuss child sexual abuse with children and how to keep children safe on the Internet.

Dr. Jennifer Middleton, director of the University of Louisville’s Human Trafficking Research Initiative, is spearheading the efforts to bring “I Am Jane Doe” to Louisville and is working with
Beshear’s office to raise awareness on human trafficking.

Beshear recently joined Dr. Middleton and her colleagues at the University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work to announce a study from the school that found that 40 percent of homeless youth surveyed in Louisville and southern Indiana reported being victims of sex trafficking, mostly in exchange for money or lodging.

“Based on the findings of our recent research study, it is clear that child sex trafficking is prevalent in our community, particularly among our most vulnerable children,” Dr. Middleton said. “The good news is that there is a lot that we can do to combat the issue and even prevent it from happening. And it starts with increasing the community’s knowledge and awareness about the issue.”

The Eifler Theater at the Clifton Center seats approximately 500 guests. To obtain admission information and to register for the event, please visit the event page at http://bit.ly/2ogJzkh. The event is free to the public but space is limited, so pre-registration is strongly encouraged. For additional questions about the event, please call the Human Trafficking Research Initiative at 502-852-3651.

At the completion of the film, a panel will discuss with the audience the documentary and the signs of human trafficking. The panelists include: Donna Pollard, survivor and member of Beshear’s Survivors Council; Julie Horen, coordinator of the My Life My Choice prevention program at Catholic Charities Human Trafficking Program; Allyson Taylor, director of Beshear’s Office of Child Abuse and Exploitation Prevention; Michael Littrell, cyber investigator for Beshear’s Department of Criminal Investigations; and Angela Renfro, survivor and director of the Kristy Love Foundation.

“Human trafficking is a crime and its victims are often hidden, which makes awareness especially important and also difficult to achieve,” Renfro said. “It is important for everyone in our community to be aware of the human trafficking problem in our community. Because you can make a difference.”

Beshear is encouraging Kentuckians to support the Child Victims’ Trust Fund through private donations, proceeds from the purchase of “I Care About Kids” license plates or donations made through the state income tax refund check-off program. To support victims of child sexual abuse, Kentuckians may visit their county clerk’s office and request an “I Care About Kids” license plate or check the box on their tax returns to designate a portion to the CVTF.

Attorney General Andy Beshear joined the Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the Kentucky Hotel and Travel Industry, Free 2 Hope, the Kentucky Trucking Association, WDRB and Catholic Charities of Louisville to raise awareness about one of the nation’s fastest growing criminal enterprises – human trafficking.

The 11th of each January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

Over the last year, Beshear has established the Kentucky Attorney General’s office as the leading agency fighting human trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery in which adults and children are forced into sex or labor services.

“Human trafficking represents the worst form of abuse, often to children, and it is increasing in Kentucky,” Beshear said. “That’s why my office is partnering with the public and private sector to enhance and improve policy measures and training opportunities to increase resources and awareness to help end human trafficking.”

Beshear’s office receives direct complaint information on possible human trafficking from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

In just the last quarter of 2016, Beshear’s office provided assistance on 14 possible incidences of human trafficking and acted as the sole investigative agency on five cases.

For 2016 as a whole, the AG’s Department of Criminal Investigations provided technical assistance to local law enforcement agencies on 32 possible human trafficking cases, resulting in the identification of two minors who were being trafficked for sex.

The office was selected by the United States Department of Justice as the first Kentucky government agency to receive a federal human trafficking grant, and has forged partnerships with the trucking and hospitality industries, and the Baptist Convention.

“As the largest denomination in the Commonwealth, the Kentucky Baptist Convention feels a special burden to stand with the attorney general to prevent human trafficking and rescue those individuals whose lives are systematically and cruelly devastated,” said Hershael W. York, chairman of the Kentucky Baptist Convention Public Affairs Committee and pastor at Buck Run Baptist Church of Frankfort. “The resulting devaluation of human life and the loss of human dignity is an attack on all of us. Victims of human trafficking are surely emblematic of Jesus’ concern for ‘the least of these’ and so we must accept the mandate of protection, deliverance and justice.”

“Professional drivers have proven time and again that they are the eyes and ears of our nation’s roadways,” said Truckers Against Trafficking Executive Director Kendis Paris. “They are in places and see things that most of us do not. If we can train every CDL holder in America to recognize and report human trafficking as they’re seeing it, many more victims will be recovered out of a life of forced prostitution. Truckers Against Trafficking is extremely grateful to be partnering with the Kentucky Attorney General’s office and the Kentucky Trucking Association to reach this critical goal, and we applaud both groups for being leaders on this issue.”

“The Kentucky Trucking Association, our members and the trucking community in this state and around the country pledge our support to Truckers Against Trafficking and its mission,” Guy Young, president and CEO of the Kentucky Trucking Association. “Our thanks to Attorney General Beshear for his leadership on this important issue. We are hopeful that the public-private partnerships formed in Kentucky to fight human trafficking will continue to make a difference in this human tragedy. Awareness and training for our professional drivers has led to increased reporting of suspected activity, rescue of many victims, and the arrest and prosecution of those responsible. We are glad to extend our help to TAT in any way we can.”

“Kentucky’s tourism industry is fully prepared to help inform and educate our businesses and employees about human trafficking,” said Hank Phillips, president and CEO of the Kentucky Travel Industry Association. “This activity is so despicable, that there can be a temptation to ignore it and pretend it does not exist. We cannot do that and we will not do that.”

“Human trafficking is a crime that is hidden in the seams of Kentucky communities, in rural and urban areas,” said Marissa Castellanos, human trafficking program director for Catholic Charities of Louisville. “Workers are being abused and enslaved in horrific conditions on farms, in restaurants, in domestic work, and other Kentucky businesses. Men, women, and children are being exploited for commercial sex, forced to engage in sex acts, resulting in thousands of dollars in profits for traffickers. Survivors need supportive services in order to regain control of their lives and begin healing. Catholic Charities is committed to helping victims of human trafficking with case management services, basic needs, immigration relief, advocacy, and other services. We hope Kentuckians will continue to raise their awareness of this issue, and look for ways to engage as more conscious consumers and by reporting potential trafficking activities to law enforcement.”

Human trafficking victims are often the most marginalized in society – victims of abuse and violence, runaways, refugees and immigrants, Beshear said.

“They are coerced into submission by their abusers through many immoral means, including forced dependence on drugs, violence, threats and manipulation,” Beshear said. “And the problem is getting worse.”

Human trafficking reports to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services have grown by 50 percent each year, climbing from 51 victims in 2013 to 169 reported cases for 2015.

Beshear said his office is working with state and federal partners to fill these gaps in several different ways.

“We are getting real time case information from state and federal agencies, and reaching out to local law enforcement, prosecutors and social workers,” he said. “We’re offering support for investigations, victims services referrals, legal research, specialized training and prosecution assistance.”

Beshear recognized WDRB Television in Louisville for producing the human trafficking awareness video that will be shown to train the employees of each participating hotel, convention center and others from the tourism industry.

The Kentucky Human Trafficking Task Force will meet on Wednesday to discuss plans to use the federal grant to hire a specially trained human trafficking investigator, enhance the collaborative efforts of the task force to ensure victim-centered response, investigation, prosecution and follow up services in cases of human trafficking. The grant will also allow the task force and AG’s office to better collect data on human trafficking.

To learn more about human trafficking and efforts to fight it, visit Catholic Charities of Louisville Rescue and Restore program website at http://www.rescueandrestoreky.org, or contact the Attorney General’s Office of Child Abuse and Exploitation Prevention at 502-696-5300.The national hotline is 888-373-7888.

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