A Course of Exploitation: The Intersection of Stalking and Sex Trafficking

When offenders engage in a course of conduct that includes sexual exploitation, they perpetrate dangerous and often misidentified and misunderstood crimes, including stalking and sex trafficking. Both crimes are highly contextual in nature and require a nuanced analysis of the relationship between the offender and the victim, as well as the various tactics utilized by abusers to control, intimidate, and traumatize victims with impunity. Stalking behaviors are used to force or coerce individuals to engage in commercial sexual activities or to intimidate and prevent them from engaging with the criminal justice system.

Presenters explore the dynamics of stalking and sex trafficking. They focus on the importance of understanding the context in which both crimes occur and the common tactics used by perpetrators. This presentation provides strategies to improve the identification of these “course of conduct” crimes, increase offender accountability through successful investigations and prosecutions, and minimize further harm to victims and survivors by ensuring they are connected with meaningful services and tools to plan for their safety.

At the end of this presentation, participants will be better able to:
-Recognize the intersections between stalking and sexual exploitation
-Investigate and prosecute crimes of stalking and sexual exploitation
-Connect victims and survivors to meaningful services, including safety planning

 

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU and 2017-TA-AX-K074 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this program are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

Seeking Justice Through Sexual Violence Prosecutions

This article explains the problems that have arisen as a result of overreliance on conviction rates in cases of sexual violence. It identifies the core principles that should inform a model response to these crimes to further the goals of justice — i.e., offender accountability, victim well-being, and community safety. Finally, it discusses how prosecutors can broaden definitions of “success” in the prosecution of sexual violence, and how they can measure their current response as well as efforts toward improvement.

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.

Seeking Justice Through Sexual Violence Prosecutions

A Broader Sense of Justice: Respecting Victim Autonomy While Pursuing Offender Accountability

Prosecutors seeking justice in crimes of sexual and domestic violence must often balance holding perpetrators accountable and valuing victim autonomy. Many victims are unable to participate in the prosecution for reasons including fear, ongoing trauma, love for or loyalty to the perpetrator, intimidation, financial harm, self-blame, or embarrassment. Reliving the traumatization of their sexual assault or domestic abuse while feeling like they are in the spotlight can be overwhelming and lead to reluctance to participate in the process. When this happens, the pressure to ensure offenders are fully prosecuted may tempt prosecutors to utilize more extreme methods such as material witness warrants or to seek body attachments or bench warrants—without full appreciation of the impact on the victim or a consideration of possible alternatives.

This presentation discusses the obstacles victims face when considering whether to participate in the prosecution of domestic violence or sexual assault and suggests strategies that prosecutors can use to minimize these barriers to facilitate victim participation. Presenters highlight the negative impacts that pre-trial detention and other next-level measures have on victims and on the community. In circumstances when victims are unable to participate, presenters will discuss possible alternatives for the prosecutor and considerations for balancing public safety risks with victim self-determination.

At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be better able to:
-Identify barriers faced by victims participating in investigations and prosecutions of sexual and domestic violence.
-Develop strategies to support victim participation.
-Balance public safety concerns in holding offenders accountable with victim interests in autonomy and self-determination.
-Employ the least restrictive methods possible to enable victims to testify when next-level measures must be utilized.

 

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.

Foundations of Sexual Violence Prosecutions: Not Just a Box to Check: Building Trust and Rapport

This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting sexual violence cases. In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting sexual violence. 

In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor John Wilkinson discuss the importance of building trust and rapport with victims of sexual violence and how this process can improve both case outcomes and victims’ sense of justice. They also discuss important conversations prosecutors should have with victims, strategies for overcoming challenges to building trust, and what to do if trust-building strategies do not initially work.

At the conclusion of this episode, viewers will be better able to:
– Assess victim needs and provide meaningful access to appropriate services
– Communicate effectively with victims at all stages of a case
– Improve victim disclosures

Additional resources related to this episode:
First, Do No Harm: Facilitating a Trauma-Informed Response
Integrating a Trauma-Informed Response in Violence Against Women and Human Trafficking Prosecutions
First, Do No Harm: Trauma-Informed Interviewing During the COVID Pandemic

 

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.

A SANE Approach to Human Trafficking Cases

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) are invaluable collaborative partners in a prosecutor’s response to human trafficking. Victims of sex and labor trafficking are at risk of serious injury, as well as short- and long-term physical and psychological health consequences, and SANEs provide much-needed medical care to these patients. Trafficking investigations and prosecutions are also enhanced by the addition of SANEs to a multidisciplinary team. SANEs document injury, collect evidence, and provide critical insight into medical issues and survivor responses to trauma that can educate criminal justice practitioners and jurors alike.

Co-presented by SANE and prosecutor subject-matter experts, this presentation demonstrates the value of collaboration in trafficking cases. The SANE explains the health risks associated with sex and labor trafficking, the content of a medical forensic examination, and documentation of victim statements and demeanor. The prosecutor provides strategies to improve the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases by using SANEs as fact and expert witnesses and litigating the admissibility of victim statements under the medical hearsay exception.

At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be better able to:
-Enhance prosecutions by ensuring that victims of sex and labor trafficking are provided meaningful access to health care and injuries and medical history are documented
-Articulate the role of the SANE in providing medical-forensic exams
-Present medical evidence and expert testimony at trial

 

This presentation was produced by AEquitas under 15POVC-21-GK-03263-HT, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Justice Systems from a Child’s Perspective: Supporting Young Trafficking Survivors

This webinar highlights the Center for Court Innovation’s (CCI) Child Witness Materials Development Project, an initiative funded by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and a partner project of AEquitas. In 2021, OVC published a package of support materials for child victims and witnesses of crime that CCI had created, and in January 2022, OVC published an additional package of interactive support materials specifically for youth who have experienced human trafficking. A multidisciplinary group of national trafficking experts with professional and and lived experience contributed to the design and development of these materials.

In this webinar, participants learn more about how young trafficking survivors experience the justice system, and how they can address youth’s needs and provide developmentally-appropriate information and emotional support. Participants learn how to effectively use the Child Witness materials in their roles so youth feel more informed and empowered as they navigate their own healing process in addition to navigating the system.

The Perfect Plan: How Victor Rax Sexually Abused and Trafficked Boys in Salt Lake City

While awareness of human trafficking is on the rise, there are still blind spots that prevent law enforcement from recognizing all forms of exploitation.  Men, boys, and victims of labor trafficking through forced criminality are often overlooked because they do not fit the typical depiction of a human trafficking victim.   However, in the case of Victor Rax, Utah’s Attorney General’s Office was able to identify dozens of boys and young men from immigrant communities who were forced to sell drugs after being sexually, spiritually, and physically abused. 

The presenters use the Rax case as a backdrop to discuss the realities of labor trafficking through forced criminality, including how traffickers use grooming tactics common in both child sexual abuse cases and in gang culture to recruit and coerce victims to commit crimes.  Strategies to better identify and respond to cases of forced criminality are discussed through a detailed examination of the Rax investigation which led to his eventual arrest for sexual abuse and labor trafficking. 

At the end of this presentation, participants will be better able to:
-Recognize and describe methods traffickers use to identify, recruit, and coerce victims of labor trafficking via forced criminality
-Conduct trauma-informed investigations and prosecutions in cases where male victims have been abused and exploited to effectively hold offenders accountable
-Collaborate to provide support to and connect male victims of forced criminality/human trafficking with meaningful services

Intimate Partner Violence Foundations: Not Just a Box to Check: Building Trust and Rapport

This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting intimate partner violence cases (IPV). In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting IPV. 

In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor Patti Powers discuss how to assess victims’ needs and provide meaningful access to appropriate services, communicate effectively with victims at all stages of a case, and improve victim disclosures. They highlight what building trust and rapport with victims may look like, challenges prosecutors may face when establishing relationships with victims, and strategies to overcome these challenges.

At the conclusion of this presentation, viewers will be better able to:

  • Build trust and rapport with victims;
  • Enhance prosecutions through improved victim disclosures; and
  • Demonstrate that the criminal justice system is a safe place for victims

Additional resources related to this episode:

Intimate Partner Violence Foundations: Collaboration is Key: Working with Victim Service Professionals

This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting intimate partner violence cases (IPV).  In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting IPV. 

In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor Patti Powers discuss the importance of working closely with victim service professionals in intimate partner violence cases. They explore how prosecutors and victim service professionals can work collaboratively to ease common tension points while protecting victim privacy and ensuring that survivors have meaningful access to services.

At the conclusion of this presentation, viewers will be better able to:

  • Identify opportunities to enhance collaboration;
  • Communicate to build trust between victim services professionals and prosecutors; and
  • Leverage collaborative relationships to enhance victim safety and participation.

Additional resources related to this episode:

Coercive ‘Love’: The Intersection between Intimate Partner Violence and Human Trafficking

Human traffickers control their victims through force, fraud, and coercion. In the case of intimate partner sex trafficking, these methods of control are uniquely manipulative and difficult to identify. Understanding the historical and circumstantial factors that lead to vulnerabilities exploited by traffickers in these relationships allows law enforcement and prosecutors to more successfully address and minimize harm to victims while effectively investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases.

This presentation describes how, in addition to violence and threats, traffickers exploit feelings of love and loyalty to maintain power over their victims and perpetrate sex trafficking and related crimes. The presenters discuss the importance of identifying victims of intimate partner human trafficking to ensure victim safety and provide access to services and support, while at the same time articulating offender conduct to ensure they are held accountable for their actions.