SURVIVOR LEGAL NEWS #1
This blog is dedicated to the brave survivors of sexual abuse, childhood trauma and human trafficking. We will be covering legal news concerning victim’s rights and remedies.
What is Human Trafficking?
Trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.
Federal Law - The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines "severe forms of human trafficking" as: The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for
- sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
- labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery
Florida law defines human trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are young children, teenagers, and adults. Thousands of victims are trafficked annually across international borders worldwide. Many of these victims are trafficked into this state. Victims of human trafficking also include citizens of the United States and those persons trafficked domestically within the borders of the United States. The Legislature finds that victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.
Survivors Remedies- Criminal Prosecution – Civil Remedies
In the criminal justice system, the individual charged with federal or state trafficking violations will be held accountable to the state or federal government. The prosecution represents the state and not necessarily the victim/survivor of the crime that the defendant, the individual charged with the crime. In a criminal case the prosecution must prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The perpetrator is presumed innocent. If the perpetrator is found not guilty the prosecutors cannot initiate another prop prosecution for these crimes.
In the civil justice system, the survivor and or his or her family is the plaintiff. They are in control of their case. Survivors must prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant perpetrator who caused harm. In a civil case there is no presumption of innocence and there can be multiple defendants. For example, the perpetrator can be sued and specific third parties, who acted negligently can also be held responsible for the survivor plaintiff damages. The defendants will be held accountable to the survivor.
Developments in Civil Litigation on behalf of a Sex Trafficking Survivor.
Recently, a Florida hotel chain was sued in federal court. Lynn Doe versus Hotel Motels Inc., the plaintiff has asserted claims utilizing the trafficking victim’s protection act. Lynn Doe (not her real name) complaint alleges that she was a victim of human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking is an underage minor. The client the complaint alleges further that the perpetrators were known to the general management of the hotel, specifically that the general manager himself had seen the perpetrators repeatedly bring young women to stay in the hotel. Importantly, prior to Lynn Doe’s abuse, that the management was aware that sex trafficking and prostitution was occurring on their premises and failed to take action as required by the standards in the industry.
What the hospitality (and others) industry should know
According to the Polaris Project, signs of human trafficking can include:
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior
- Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
- Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
- Avoids eye contact
Poor Physical Health
- Lacks health care
- Appears malnourished
- Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Lack of Control
- Has few or no personal possessions
- Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
- Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
- Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
For survivors, you are not alone!
Resources, further information.
https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020-TIP-Report-Complete-062420-FINAL.pdfs. Department of state Trafficking in Persons Report, 20th edition June 2020.
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/orr/traffickingservicesServices Available to Victims of Human Trafficking.
https://victimsofcrime.org/ National Center for Victims of Crime
https://victimbar.org/ The National Crime Victim Bar Association – Helping Crime Victims Pursue Civil Justice *
I am an active member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association. My professional experience began as a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Yale New Haven Hospital. While pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree, I was a counselor with the New Haven Rape Crisis Program, which was located in the Yale New Haven Hospital Emergency Department. I had the privilege of counseling sexual assault survivors and performed seminars for local police departments, universities, and high schools. My work with the Rape Crisis program led me to attend law school. During the course of my career, I have acted as Pro Bono Counsel for Rape Crisis Programs and have practiced law in several different State and Federal Courts. I am a member of the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force and Pro Bono Counsel for the Florida Association of Recovery Residences.
I am also a survivor.