This weekend, I was floored by a news article about a jury that acquitted a pimp because his teenage victim had a prior history of sexual exploitation (Miami girl’s beau/pimp acquitted of sex crime , Journal Gazette, Indiana, 7/29/11). It is absolutely appalling that the court accepted an argument that this young victim’s prior exploitation and abuse somehow meant that “she asked for it” or that “she deserved it.” Both the judge and the jury lacked an understanding of the victimology of domestic minor sex trafficking.
Lionel L. Cauley, 33, was arrested in Fort Wayne for sex trafficking of his then 17-year-old girlfriend, who testified that she had to give him every penny she made or he would be “angry.” Cauley’s attorney argued that the teenager had made sexual exploitation her “lifestyle” prior to meeting Cauley. Thus he could not be held accountable for making a profit from her exploitation. This reminds me of years ago when the lawyers would blame a woman for provoking her rape because she wore low cut shirts.
According to the United States Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the fact that a person is profiting from selling a minor under the age of 18 for sex is enough to prosecute a human trafficking offense. Regardless if the child recognizes her own victimization or not, the commercial sexual exploitation of minors is child abuse and modern day slavery.
In the United States, 100,000 to 300,000 minors are at risk of being trafficked for sex each and every year. They are first recruited into the sex trade at the average age of 12 to 14 years old. Pimps would initially lure these children in with “love” and then control them through physical threat and psychological brain washing. The majority of these victims have a history of early childhood sexual abuse. Many are runaways or in the foster care or child welfare system. Victims commonly suffer Stockholm syndrome, where they feel loyalty to and a desire to protect their abusers.
These factors make it difficult for victims to cooperate with law enforcement and prosecutors. Therefore, the mere fact that this girl testified – though reluctantly – should indicate to an informed court that she wanted out, as the truck driver witnessed.
Unfortunately, the Indiana court basically declared that the continuation of her exploitation is not a crime as sexual exploitation has always been part of her life.
The court’s decision puts this girl in imminent danger for “snitching” on her pimp. Testifying against one’s pimp is highly shunned upon in the “game,” as pimping is called. She will either be killed or get some really good beatings. Her pimp will make sure that her miserable life will get even worse…
Let’s BAN this hideous practice in California’s Courts!
Help California Against Slavery ban this absurd, unjust, hideous practice in California’s courts. Among other provisions, the CAS initiative will enact the following law to protect victims like this 17-year-old girl:
(a) Evidence that a victim of human trafficking has engaged in any sexual activity as a result of being a victim of human trafficking is inadmissible to prove the victim’s criminal liability for any conduct related to that activity.
(b) Evidence of sexual conduct on the part of any victim of human trafficking is inadmissible to attack the credibility or impeach the character of the victim in any civil or criminal proceeding.
One would like to believe that our society has progressed beyond the “slut” blaming tactic in our legal system. But we obviously haven’t. The best way to ensure that this doesn’t happen in our courts is to legislate it.
It’s time to ban anyone from using the cheap “slut” argument to justify sexual exploitation and torture of trafficked women and children.