Bill seeks to protect children from sexual exploitation, increase penalty for human trafficking

02/01/2012 04:13 PM

New legislation filed Wednesday will attempt to strengthen Kentucky’s human trafficking laws to better enforce crimes against children and increase the penalty for those who sexually exploit children.

Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, held a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda Wednesday to announce the filing of the ‘Human Trafficking Victims Act,’ which would target those individuals who exploit children for sexual purposes. It would increase the charge from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class C felony.

Deputy Chief Attorney General, Patrick Hughes, said the attorney general’s office and Jack Conway support this legislation because, “it contains provisions that allows for forfeiture of any ill-gotten gains from human trafficking.”

The tougher legislation would:

  • Create a Human Trafficking Victims Fund from fines and asset forfeiture provisions to fund programs that serve children of human trafficking.
  • Establish a special prosecution division within the Kentucky State Police to identify and investigate those involved in human trafficking.
  • Provide for increased fines and penalties for commercial sexual exploitation of children from $500 to $10,000 with those proceeds also going into the fund.
  • And increase penalties for sexually exploitation of minors from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class C felony.

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. John Tilley, a Hopkinsville Democrat who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said it’s urgent — and overdue — for Kentucky to boost those penalties.

Human trafficking, in which individuals are essentially bought and sold for illicit purposes, continues to happen in Kentucky, said Marissa Castellanos, program manager of Kentucky Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking within the Catholic Charities of Louisville.

She said authorities have found 67 victims of human trafficking over the last four years and 29 of them have been children.

It gets worse, Castellanos said.

“Just over half the victims of human trafficking in Kentucky were trafficked for sex,” she said.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.