Green Beret discharged for beating alleged child rapist speaks out
(CNN)Sergeant 1st Class Charles Martland, the Green Beret being separated involuntarily from the U.S. Army for kicking and body slamming an Afghan police commander he describes as a “brutal child rapist,” began telling his side of the story Monday.
Martland is under a gag order imposed by the Pentagon, but at the request of Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif, he wrote a statement detailing his actions on Sept. 6, 2011, which was obtained by CNN.
“Kicking me out of the army is morally wrong and the entire country knows it,” Martland writes. Last week the Army rejected his appeal.
Martland and former Captain Daniel Quinn were disciplined by the Army after they beat a powerful local police official who they concluded had been raping a small boy. They say they had been encouraged by higher-ups that there was nothing to do about such horrific acts, that these were Afghan problems for the Afghan authorities to work out.
But the Afghan authorities wouldn’t do anything about it, the two soldiers say.
“Our ALP (Afghan Local Police) were committing atrocities and we were quickly losing the support of the local populace,” Martland writes in his statement. “The severity of the rapes and the lack of action by the Afghan Government caused many of the locals to view our ALP as worse than the Taliban.”
Quinn and Martland were told by a young Afghan boy and his mother, through an Afghan interpreter, that the boy had been tied to a post at the home of Afghan Local Police commander Abdul Rahman and raped repeatedly for up to two weeks. When his mother tried to stop the attacks, they told the soldiers, Rahman’s brother beat her. Quinn says he verified the story with other ALP commanders from neighboring villages. Then they invited Rahman to the camp.
“After the child rapist laughed it off and referenced that it was only a boy, Captain Quinn picked him up and threw him,” Martland writes. Martland then proceeded to “body slam him multiple times,” kick him in the rib cage, and put his foot on his neck. “I continued to body slam him and throw him for fifty meters until he was outside the camp,” Martland writes. “He was never knocked out, and he ran away from our camp.” The incident lasted no more than five minutes, he says.
Quinn told CNN’s “The Lead” last week “We basically had to make sure that he fully understood that if he ever went near that boy or his mother again, there was going to be hell to pay.”
“While I understand that a military lawyer can say that I was legally wrong, we felt a moral obligation to act,” Martland writes.
Quinn told CNN that they took the action they took because otherwise nothing would be done by the Army or local authorities. “The reason we weren’t able to step in with these local rape cases was we didn’t want to undermine the authority of the local government,” he said. “We were trying to build up the local government. Us acting after the local government fails to can certainly undermine their credibility.”
The Pentagon denies that telling soldiers to look the other way is official practice.
“We have never had a policy in place that directs any military member, or any government personnel overseas to ignore human rights abuses,” Defense spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said. “Any sexual abuse, no matter who the alleged perpetrator and no matter who the victim, is completely unacceptable and reprehensible.”
-You want an American hero, you got him! Beat a child molester and kill him and you have my vote for fucking life! These trash are not able to be rehabilitated and need swift execution and anyone who believes that one of these putrid fucks can pay a debt to society needs to get extensive shock therapy!
The best thing for a molester is a bullet to the back of the head, and that means an adult and a little child, not an 18yr old with a 16yr old! It is a well known fact in the military that soldiers from the Middle East as well as civilians commonly molest little boys and as long as they aren’t public about it, then it isn’t an afront to Islam. Ask the people who have been there, they have a frame of reference, not asshole liars who pontificate about things they don’t have the slightest idea about!
Josh Duggar enters rehab, family says
Josh Duggar information turned up in Ashley Madison hack
Duggar apologized last week; family released statement Wednesday
(CNN)Josh Duggar, the eldest of the Duggar children, is going into rehab, the family said in a statement Wednesday.
“Yesterday Josh checked himself into a long-term treatment center,” the family said in a posting on duggarfamily.com. “For him it will be a long journey toward wholeness and recovery. We pray that in this he comes to complete repentance and sincere change.
“In the meantime, we will be offering our love, care and devoted support to Anna and our grandchildren as she also receives counsel and help for her own heart and future,” the statement continued.
It’s unclear what type of rehab the former reality TV star has entered.
Josh Duggar: ‘I have been the biggest hypocrite ever’ 01:36
Last week, Josh Duggar apologized after his name turned up in the data of the cheating website Ashley Madison.
“I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife,” Duggar said August 20.
“I brought hurt and a reproach to my family, close friends and the fans of our show with my actions that happened when I was 14-15 years old, and now I have re-broken their trust,” Duggar said.
The Ashley Madison hack, which included information on 32 million users, was released to the public last week.
It’s been an embattled year for Duggar, 27, who is married to Anna Duggar and is the father to four children.
He also apologized back in May after reports emerged alleging he molested girls as a teenager, including his sisters. He said then that he “acted inexcusably.”
His family’s TLC show, “19 Kids and Counting,” was canceled in May.
The Duggar family is known for its adherence to strict religious beliefs, including no sex outside of marriage. For two years, Josh Duggar was head of the Family Research Council’s FRC Action arm, a division of the conservative interest group. He resigned in May after the reports about his sisters emerged.
In the statement, the family said “we continue to look to God”
“He is our rock and comfort,” the statement said. “We ask for your continued prayers for our entire family.”
CNN’s Dana Ford, Steve Almasy and Laurie Segall contributed to this story.
-So Josh Duggar is goin’ ta rehab huh? For WHAT? Sex addiction? There isn’t any such animal, he is who he is because he was told that sexual urges were sinful and that he would burn in Hell for flogging his log! Not that he is a pinnacle of purity, NO! Is he an asshole carbon copy of his fucktard father? YES! Is he an adult person denying science and teaching further generations to be myth-believing throwbacks? YES!
This asshole stood at rallies condemning certain secular and pro-choice issues, trying to force his stupid myth onto those who were firmly grounded in reality and science, HE is a complete shitbird and a hypocritical jackass! And while I am chortling mightily at the Duggar downfall, I also understand that he is a child born of people sooo ignorant that they believe the Earth to be only 6.000 years old, and believe that a 900 year old man built an ark that saved all of the animals that we see today.
I surely hope that Josh finds it within himself that flogging his log and watching a little porn is actually healthy, and that worshiping a fairy godfather in the sky is actually akin to kneeling to My Little Pony
NOVEMBER 04, 2013 NEWS » CITYDESK
ACLU Sues City of Boise Over Anti-Panhandling Ordinance
“The three members of the City Council who voted in favor of the ordinance are getting today exactly what they voted for—a federal lawsuit.”
By George Prentice @georgepren
The process is very simple. The issue is anything but.
At approximately 10:30 a.m. on November 4, process server Tony Roque took a number and waited in line in the lobby of Boise City Hall. When his number was called, he stepped up to a window where a representative of the City Clerk’s office was seated and Roque handed the representative a 19-page document.
And with that, the City of Boise was served.
The ACLU of Idaho officially launched a federal lawsuit this morning, arguing that the city’s recently-passed anti-panhandling ordinance was in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“The ACLU specifically warned the Boise City Council that this ordinance was unconstitutional,” said ACLU of Idaho legal director Ritchie Eppink, who added that the suit was a “clarion call.”
“This lawsuit should come as no surprise to anyone and especially not the city,” said Eppink.
After listening to hours of public testimony, overwhelmingly opposed to the ordinance, the Boise City Council voted 3-1 in favor of the measure which prohibits solicitation for donations colored by intimidation, obstruction of right-of-way or repeated attempted at solicitation after a negative response.
Voting in favor of the measure were Council President Maryanne Jordan and Council Members Ben Quintana and T.J. Thomson. The only Council Member voting against the ordinance was Lauren McLean.
Boise Weekly asked Eppink about the significance of launching the lawsuit one day before Election Day when Jordan, Quintana and Thomson would be running for reelection.
“A lot of issues wrapped up in this case are directly relevant to issues going on in the city and the city council election,” said Eppink. “All three city council members who voted in favor of this ordinance are, coincidentally, the three who will be standing for election tomorrow. These issues are something that, hopefully, everyone in the City of Boise should be keeping in mind before going to the polls tomorrow.”
As early as June, the ACLU of Idaho was telling Boise Weekly that it was prepared to launch a legal challenge if the ordinance was passed (BW, News, “Out of the Panhandle, Into the Fire,” June 5, 2013).
“The three members of the City Council who voted in favor of the ordinance are getting today exactly what they voted for—a federal lawsuit,” said Erika Birch, ACLU of Idaho board member. “The ordinance criminalizes certain speech and expression and specifically restricts words that a person can use in the City of Boise, particularly in the downtown core area. It goes too far and violates constitutionally-protect speech.”
In statement from the office of Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, spokesman Adam Park wrote, “The ordinance was carefully crafted to prevent aggressive solicitation while still ensuring the protection of all citizens’ speech. The City will defend the ordinance and is confident it will withstand this legal challenge.”
Ritchie Eppink, legal director of ACLU of Idaho, announces lawsuit against City of Boise on steps of City Hall.
Ritchie Eppink, legal director of ACLU of Idaho, announces lawsuit against City of Boise on steps of City Hall.
-Yeah, congrats ACLU for supporting a lazy motherfucker’s right to accost a taxpayer and to further his fucking ‘right’ to eventually pass out drunk on said taxpayers lawn and have the owner get sued for running this reprobate asshole off! AWESOME! A testament to making ALL of the wrong choices and getting rewarded for them! Boise is beautiful and Portland, OR is infested with nere do well asshole homeless pieces of shit panhandling at all fucking corners of the city! Fuck that for the future here! Does anyone still believe in hard work and making your own way? Or does everybody feel sorry for the flotsam shitbags of society who should be forced to make the right choices?
Fuck the ACLU and fuck those who feel responsible and sorry for the bums that blight our cities! These weak links would be the first to die in a zombie apocalypse because they are unmotivated superfluous shitpiles! Support your middle class and educate to prevent poverty! If you reject an education or a vocation, then you deserve to be where you are and if you are a bum who is able, then you don’t deserve fucking shit you worthless asshole!!
I have to say that I am NOT a fucking hipster or a hipster follower. I am myself who believes in what I believe with the backing of the Matt Dillahunty quote, “I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible.” Therefore, I believe that a balanced opinion out weighs a skewed right or left opinion. I believe passionately in socialized education and Social Security, but think that privatized prisons need to be eradicated in favor of mandatory DNA convictions regarding death penalty cases. These people could be worked under hard labor conditions 6 days a week instead of being executed. They would have NO access to appeal and would become non-people, working for the good of mankind only. Therefore; NO death penalty!
Drug addicts would be afforded free needles and drugs until they OD or ask for rehab. Two rehabs and no results equal no state benefits EVER again! Demonstrate PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY and succeed, demonstrate idiocy and fail! My system would include a second chance, but would excommunicate you if you prove too moronic to save. Soylent Green could be an option because these idiots could be ground up into meal, melded with soy protein and used to feed starving nations of idiots too stupid to stop breeding in an area where food cannot be raised.
I know that people fall to bad luck at times, but they usually get back on the horse and drive on instead of breed too many kids that they cannot support. These are the common sense people that usually get tasked to support the LEGIONS of Medicaid leeches that force their entitled asses on the working people of America expecting the free ride that their lazy, worthless asses are receiving by convincing vacuum-headed liberals assholes that they are victims instead of stupid, gutless shithead fucktools.
I came from homeless uninspired trailer trash who made excuses instead of achieving and I credit me for elevating MYSELF! There was no luck or woo involved, I just decided that I wasn’t going to prison or back to the trailer park, so I educated MYSELF and didn’t act like the majority of worthless asshole minimum wagers of today. I chose to use condoms and have kids when I could feed them and put a decent roof over their heads without Section 8 assistance. I used my brain and if they can’t, then they deserve what life doles out to them. I resent helping these entitled fucks out and always will because I work for them so that they can sit on their lazy asses!
There needs to be a system of education in place to offer, or community work to perform in exchange for an assistance check, THEN these people can exercise that immense sense of entitlement that they always demonstrate when consuming services that the taxpayer provides!
In short, the focus needs to be on green energy, education, more education, and forced labor camps for hardened offenders instead of asshole lawyers and ACLU idiots that feel sorry for scumbags.
Mississippi school district fined $7500 for opening assembly with prayer
Published July 27, 2015FoxNews.com
Brandon High School where the assembly in May 2014 took place. (City of Brandon)
Allowing a school assembly honoring high-achievers to open with a prayer made one Mississippi school district $7,500 poorer – and a student who sued $2,500 richer.
The Rankin, Miss., public school district was hit with the fine after U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves said it defied his prior order barring prayers school events. According to the judge, the prayer violated a 2013 court settlement that ordered the district to stop “proselytizing Christianity.” The alleged violation, which came at an assembly last year for students who scored above 22 on their ACT college admissions test, prompted the judge to apply fines for that and another incident, in which Gideons International was permitted to hand out Bibles to elementary school students.
“The district’s breach did not take very long and it occurred in a very bold way,” Reeves wrote in his judgment. “Its conduct displays that the district did not make any effort to adhere to the agreed judgment.”
Reeves also ordered the district to pay the student’s legal fees, an amount that will be determined at a later date, and threatened a $10,000 fine for any future infractions of the order.
The assembly at Brandon High School in May 2014 began with a prayer led by local Methodist pastor Rev. Rob Gill. Although not mandatory, the assembly honored the district’s students who scored higher than a 22 on their ACT college tests
The school district first came under legal fire when the same student took the school district and the school’s then-principal, Charles Frazier, to court in 2013 for forcing him to attend a series of assemblies that promoted Christianity.
Attorneys for the school district have argued that Gill’s prayer did not violate the 2013 orders or the student’s First Amendment rights because attendance at the assembly was optional. Reeves, however, believes the district has been trying to indoctrinate students with Christianity.
“From the accounts detailed in the record, it appears that incorporating religious script and prayers with school activities has been a long-standing tradition of the district,” the judge argued.
In a statement issued by an attorney, Rankin County Superintendent Lynn Weathersby said that despite the court’s ruling, students and teachers will continue to pray. However, district staff will have to adjust in order to comply with the ruling.
-Awesome ruling. Separation of church and state people, period, no explanation necessary! School children should not have their scientific minds stunted by being told that mythology is to be believed as real. The reality is is that we do not know what exactly is beyond this life, if anything. A narrow view shouldn’t demand superior advertisement when there are so many other myths to choose from. The ham-handed doctrine of Christianity speaks for itself, if the god of Abraham is as incompetent as the literal bible describes, than it might be a better bet to worship the My Little Ponies!
Atlanta (CNN)In the new CNN documentary “Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking,” actress Jada Pinkett Smith worked closely with CNN producers to shed light on the growing epidemic of human trafficking in the United States — in particular, Atlanta.
It’s a problem that may seem too big to tackle, but for the thousands of people caught in this dangerous world, there is hope. And there are ways you can help.
Tuesday: 9 p.m. ET and PT / 3 a.m. CET Wednesday / 9 a.m. HKT Wednesday
Wednesday: 7 a.m. ET and PT / 1 p.m. CET or 7 p.m. HKT;
11 a.m. ET and PT / 5 p.m. CET / 11 p.m. HKT;
3 p.m. ET and PT / 9 p.m CET / 3 a.m. HKT Thursday.
Join the conversation at #endsextrafficking.
Here are some organizations that are helping victims start new lives:
The Living Water Center is a safe house and rehabilitation center for human trafficking victims. It also helps survivors graduate from high school and apply for college and/or job placement.
Wellspring Living provides a safe house, education, and therapy for underage victims. It also offers an independent living program which includes continued education and job skills training.
4Sarah is an intervention program that reaches out to women working in strip clubs and informs them about the risks of the human trafficking industry.
There are also other organizations and resources across the United States where you can find help or donate.
Safe Horizon is based in New York City and provides housing, counseling, legal services, education and job training. The organization also has a 24-hour hotline available.
Polaris Project in the Washington area has a crisis response team with emergency housing, transportation, and legal advocacy. The organization also has a center where victims can get clothing, food, therapy and job placement help.
Not For Sale in San Francisco partners with businesses and employers to find jobs for victims in addition to providing education and shelter. The organization also has locations in Europe, South America, and Asia.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.
Selling Atlanta’s children: What has and hasn’t changed
By Jane O. Hansen, Special to CNN
Updated 11:34 AM ET, Sat July 18, 2015
15 years ago, Jane Hansen reported extensively on child prostitution in Atlanta
Now, trafficked children are more likely to be viewed as victims, not criminals
Technology has transformed the illegal sex industry
(CNN)The image sticks in my mind: A female defendant is escorted into the courtroom with shackles around her ankles, making it difficult to walk. Dressed in a jail-issued jumpsuit and flip-flops, she takes a seat at the appointed table up front, until the judge is gaveled in and we all rise.
As a newspaper reporter for more than 20 years in Atlanta, I’d observed this scene before. But this time, something was different.
Selling Atlanta’s Children
Jane O. Hansen’s three-part series “Selling Atlanta’s Children” about child prostitution was published January 7, 2001, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she worked for 25 years as an investigative reporter, columnist and member of the editorial board. Over the years, her stories captured many national awards, and she was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A series on the failures of Georgia’s child welfare system led to an overhaul of Georgia’s child welfare laws.
This defendant was chewing on her finger, had her hair pulled back in a tiny pigtail, and spoke in a high-pitched voice. She was 10.
She had been in and out of an Atlanta jail for months, as had her sister, because she was an alleged prostitute, a chronic runaway and no one knew what to do with her. When her probation officer asked whether the defendant could address the court, the judge nodded yes, and the little girl rose from the defense table. Her head bowed, she quietly told the judge she wanted to go home. Then, as she rubbed her eyes with balled up fists, she began to cry.
These children are victims, not prostitutes
Nearly 15 years ago, I wrote a series of stories called “Selling Atlanta’s Children” about child prostitution for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and I started it with that courtroom scene. That little girl was a metaphor for everything I had learned through my reporting. By meeting and interviewing her, her 11-year-old sister and other girls, I realized: There’s something wrong with this picture.
How to help sex trafficking victims
In 2000, I got a call in the newsroom from Stephanie Davis, a woman I’d never met, who identified herself as director of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation.
She told me there was a problem with childhood prostitution in Atlanta, that she knew I’d written about children’s issues before, and that she wanted me to meet with some people who could describe in detail what was happening. I was working on another series of stories, but I agreed to the meeting.
Educating Americans on human trafficking
Educating Americans on human trafficking 00:54
A week or so later, I met with a group of women that included a Fulton County Juvenile Court probation officer and some child advocates. They told me that a growing number of young girls — early to late teens — were coming into juvenile court charged with shoplifting or, more commonly, running away — an offense that applies only to minors.
Upon questioning by the judge, they learned that the girls were surviving on the streets as prostitutes under the tutelage of men who housed, fed and clothed them and, in exchange, sold them to other men for sex. I asked for numbers, but they couldn’t provide them. I asked for access to the girls. They said that because of confidentiality, that could not happen. I told them I wouldn’t use their names, but I wouldn’t do the story without meeting some of the girls involved. I also said I needed some way of determining how big a problem this was.
Back then, when people spoke of sex trafficking, I assumed they were referring to an international trade — the phenomenon of young women from China or Thailand or some other country being brought to the United States, then forced to pay back their transportation fees through sexual slavery. But these women I’d just met were telling me it was a homegrown problem. I wanted them to prove it.
When I searched for articles about child prostitution as a homegrown industry in other cities, I found only one story about an American-based prostitution ring that had exploited local minors somewhere in the Midwest.
Watch ‘Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking’
Tuesday: 9 p.m. ET and PT / 3 a.m. CET Wednesday / 9 a.m. HKT Wednesday
Wednesday: 7 a.m. ET and PT / 1 p.m. CET or 7 p.m. HKT;
11 a.m. ET and PT / 5 p.m. CET / 11 p.m. HKT;
3 p.m. ET and PT / 9 p.m CET / 3 a.m. HKT Thursday.
Join the conversation at #endsextrafficking.
One of the first people I met was Fulton County Juvenile Judge Nina Hickson. Through her, I began to see what was wrong with this picture — what was wrong that day I sat in her courtroom and watched that little girl with the pigtail cry.
In Georgia in 2000, while children were being arrested, put in jail, and chained like the worst of criminals, the men selling them and having sex with them were rarely arrested.
Back then, there were no reliable statistics on the number of prostituted children. While the number of 300,000 nationwide was bandied about, I researched the genesis of that number and learned it was wildly speculative and had no basis in fact.
The human traffickers you never even notice
The human traffickers you never even notice 01:00
The best I could do was pull the numbers of adults who had gone to prison for prostitution in Georgia versus the number who had gone to prison for pimping. From 1972 to 1999, I found that 401 adults — almost all women — had been incarcerated for prostitution. Not one person had gone to prison for the crime of pimping. That told me something.
I remember the explanation given to me at the time by Mike Light, then the Department of Corrections spokesman and a former parole officer. “I think there was an unwitting bias that the woman was the perpetrator,” he said. “She was the one out having sex. …The pimp was just collecting the money.”
Because the numbers were so unreliable, my newspaper agreed to do a national survey of juvenile judges. We enlisted the help of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, who urged enough judges to respond that we were able to get a reliable sample.
A hidden problem
Child prostitution is a hidden problem that was — and still is — difficult to count.
Unlike adult women, these children — such as that 10-year-old girl — rarely came into the criminal justice system charged with prostitution. Rather they came in under a host of other charges, such as running away. Juvenile judges were often the first to identify them as sexually exploited minors who were working as prostitutes. And according to our survey, their numbers were growing.
Almost one in three of the juvenile judges surveyed said they had seen an increase in the past five years in the number of child prostitutes coming into their courtrooms. Rural judges participating in the survey reported the sharpest increase, with the typical rural judge seeing an average of three youths a month involved in prostitution.
Our survey suggested, however, that even judges viewed the problem differently, depending on their gender. Among female juvenile justices, 85% estimated they saw one or more child prostitutes a month, compared with 68% of male judges.
Read the original report
Selling Atlanta’s Children
The female judges were also more likely than male judges to complain that police weren’t aggressive enough in going after pimps and customers. Many judges participating in our survey said they believed the laws should be changed, mandating harsher penalties for pimps and “johns.”
One judge said the adults got away with exploiting children because “people don’t believe children, particularly if they’re a naughty, bad, unpleasant child.” A majority of the judges said their communities lacked services for child prostitutes in need of being “deprogrammed,” with 10 times as many judges saying they should be treated as victims rather than criminals.
Atlanta police said at the time it was a lot harder to arrest pimps than prostitutes.
As undercover officers, they could pluck the prostitutes off the streets as the girls or women worked the “track,” such as Metropolitan Parkway, or turned tricks at strip clubs, where underaged girls illegally danced. The pimps were more hidden.
Even if police were able to make an arrest, prosecutors said it was difficult to build a case against the men. They needed witnesses, but the general rule was that prostitutes didn’t testify against their boss, the pimp, out of reluctance or fear.
The problem, Judge Hickson said at the time, was that police and prosecutors often failed to distinguish between prostitutes who were adults and those who were children.
The children who were coming into her courtroom weren’t seen as victims by law enforcement, she said. “They’re seen as consenting participants.”
Partly in response to that perception, I told her I needed to find a girl 12 or younger who was allegedly being prostituted. I felt if I could paint a picture of a child who was being prostituted, as opposed to a teenager, the exploitative nature of this problem would become more real to our readers. I told her I would not use any names without her approval, as I understood the dangerous lives these young people were leading. Eventually, after she contacted other judges familiar with stories I’d done involving child victims, I think she decided it was worth the risk.
She called me one day and said, “What about a 10-year-old?” Soon after, I was in her courtroom when they brought in the little girl.
The judge explained that the last thing she wanted to do with this child was to keep her behind bars, which is where her 11-year-old sister had been waiting for three weeks. “But I’ve got to make sure she’s safe,” the judge said. There was just nowhere to put children like these because of a lack of children’s programs in Georgia.
There were plenty of beds for bad children needing punishment, but practically none for young exploited victims needing help.
At the court hearing, Hickson was clearly frustrated. She accused child welfare officials of not doing enough to find some place to put the two sisters other than jail. The probation officer complained they had done nothing to get the girls’ mother into drug treatment.
Hickson said she had never intended to keep them locked up more than a few days, and she was angry she had had to schedule this hearing to force the child welfare officials to act. They told the judge they worried about sending the girls home to their mother, whose life was controlled by drugs.
When the child told the judge she wanted to go home, Hickson said to her, “I don’t want you locked up either. But I’m also concerned about your safety and whether you’re going to stay with your mom. Are you going to stay at your mother’s?”
“Yes, ma’am,” the child said.
After the hearing, the judge took me back to her chambers where she allowed me to interview the little girl. Her eyes red from crying, the child said she was sorry for what she had done.
She said if she could, she would “change back the hand of time.” She said a relative’s boyfriend had led the sisters into prostitution. At first he “was buying us stuff.” She said she realized something was wrong “because of what he wanted in return.” He wanted money “by my prostituting.”
“He forced me. He wouldn’t let me go.” She said he took her sister and her to a hotel on Fulton Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta.
As she sat hunched over with her hands partly hiding her face, she said softly that he threatened to kill her if she left. “He’d pull my hair, and he punched me.” She was very frightened of him.
She said she would like to tell other girls her age, “Stay in school. Don’t waste your life on something like this. Some people have caught HIV and AIDS.”
She said she wanted to go back to school. Her elementary school had a mentoring program. And then this 10-year-old little girl — with no hope and no one in her life who loved and cared for her — said that more than anything, she wanted a mentor. “It would help me be better off in life,” she said. “Much better than I am.”
That day, Hickson ordered that both girls be returned home and without electronic monitors, as child welfare officials had requested. Three weeks later, the 10-year-old ran away again. Eventually police picked her up and returned her to the youth jail, where she remained while officials tried to figure out what to do with her.
“It’s not the judge’s fault,” Alesia Adams said at the time. Adams was head of Victims of Prostitution, a newly formed program to help children like the 10-year-old. “It’s not anybody’s fault. There’s just no place for these kids to go.”
In the past 15 years, I’ve thought of that child, as well as the other girls I met and profiled for the newspaper series. I’ve wondered what happened to them. The 10-year-old would be 25 today. If she’s alive.
Changing industry, changing laws
Since I wrote that series, a lot has changed. And a lot hasn’t.
Soon after my stories ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, people such as Hickson, Stephanie Davis and Alesia Adams convinced the Georgia Legislature to change state law so that pimping minors was no longer a misdemeanor but a felony, with prison sentences of up to 20 years, depending on the child’s age.
It was a start.
Prosecutors such as Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard called child prostitution possibly “one of the largest problems facing our young people today.” He said more than a new law was needed, and he began more aggressively prosecuting men who were exploiting minors while calling on police to more aggressively identify and arrest them.
The Atlanta Women’s Foundation set up “Angela’s Fund” to raise money to help children exploited as prostitutes. Soon Angela’s House was born as a residential safe house for a small number of children victimized by commercial sexual exploitation. While Angela’s House no longer exists, eventually two other safe houses have taken its place, thanks in part to a growing number of individuals and organizations concerned about the problem, such as youthSpark, Street Grace and Wellspring Living.
Each year, these organizations promote a “Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Lobby Day” to continue calling attention to the problem.
In 2011, they succeeded in winning passage of House Bill 200: Georgia’s Human Trafficking Law, which again increased penalties for trafficking, required training for the proper response by law enforcement and emphasized the need to treat those who were being commercially exploited as victims rather than criminals.
This year, Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia signed two new measures, both sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman, a Republican from Buford. Senate Resolution 7 would permit an annual $5,000 fee paid by strip clubs to go toward housing, counseling and other services for victims of child prostitution, if voters approve. The resolution sets up a statewide referendum that will be on the ballot in November 2016.
Senate Bill 8, known as Rachel’s Law and the Safe Harbor Law, lays out how the money would be collected and spent. It also ensures that sexually exploited youths are treated as victims, not criminals, specifically stating that children who have been sexually exploited may no longer be charged with prostitution.
Hickson, today an ethics officer for the city of Atlanta, was there for the bills’ signing.
“The level of awareness certainly has increased,” she said in a recent interview. She believes the perception of human trafficking has also changed and is no longer viewed exclusively as a problem among immigrants from other countries.
“I think people today understand it is a homegrown problem,” she said. “You have people acknowledging that the problem exists in our metro area, and the children need to be treated as children with problems as opposed to problem children.”
But, she said, it remains critical to keep the public glare on the problem.
From the streets to the Internet
And that’s not easy, because if this societal problem was hidden before, it’s gone underground today.
Internet and cell phones have changed everything, according to Hickson and law enforcement officers. While young girls can still be seen walking the “track” in some well-known areas of Fulton and DeKalb counties, in the core of the Atlanta metro area, they are as likely to be advertised on the Internet.
A number of girls and women have set up their own ads that are prominently displayed on a plethora of websites, one of the biggest being “Backpage.com,” which filled the gap after Craigslist was sued and in 2010 shut down its money-making adult services section. Backpage’s escort and body-rubs section brings in millions in revenue each month, according to a 2013 report by an advertising consultant company, the AIM Group. Backpage “has succeeded Craigslist as the nation’s leading publisher of online prostitution advertising,” the report said.
(Earlier this summer, Visa, American Express and MasterCard all cut their ties with the website.) Calls and emails to representatives of Backpage were not returned.
To understand how endemic the Internet is to the world of prostitution, consider the website “The Erotic Review,” or TER. It has been around so long, there are johns who make it their business to go see escort after escort, then review them on TER. They call themselves “hobbyists,” and they post explicit descriptions of the services others can expect from a girl, whether the girl has a bad attitude or whether she’s posted a picture that makes her look better than she does in person. Attempts to reach TER have been unsuccessful.
Pimps who once exploited girls by making them walk the track can now troll the Internet for girls who are going it alone, sometimes luring them into escort services with an offer of higher salaries, payment to cover the cost of their ads and an apartment where they can rendezvous with their clients.
That means that for the 14-year-old girl from an impoverished area who is just getting started and doesn’t understand what she’s getting into, “a pimp will come along and say, ‘Instead of you staying out there in the wind or the cold, I’ll put you in a warm apartment and you’ll make a lot,’ ” says a seasoned law enforcement officer and former vice and narcotics detective. “Anyone who runs an escort agency and gets a cut from your profit prostituting, they’re pimping.”
As prostitution has moved indoors and underground, the community is less likely to see it on the streets and complain to police. So there’s less involvement by police, who are driven to respond by the community’s complaints.
That’s bad for the young victims, the officer says, as well as for the community because the sexual exploitation of underage youth remains a booming business. He worries that while demand remains strong, too many young girls — and some boys — are lured into prostitution out of view of the public and police and without understanding the consequences.
“The biggest impact is on the girls themselves,” he says. “It has a psychological, moral impact on a girl, and she doesn’t realize what she’s sacrificing. A lot of these girls become drug addicts. This is happening all over Atlanta. After 10 years, if you survive the diseases, a potential criminal record, and the psychological toil, you suddenly realize you have no education or marketable skills.
“Once you lose your looks, you’re back in the same place you started in. Any time you take a productive young person out of the mainstream of society and point her toward a criminal enterprise, which prostitution is, that’s never good.”
She said that while she is hopeful about the new laws, the growing awareness and the numbers of people and organizations fighting against child prostitution, she worries there’s a “flavor of the month” aspect; that child prostitution is a “topic that’s in style.”
“If this is a shallow issue for people, it will dissipate when the next issue comes along,” she said. Fifteen years ago, I wrote that Hickson “looks into the eyes of children who have been prostituted and she sees nothing. No hope. No dreams. No more childhood.”
Like that 10-year-old girl.
Some years after that child had stood before Hickson, the former judge got word about what had happened to her and her older sister.
For a while, they were in the care of the Department of Family and Children Services because of their mother’s ongoing drug addiction. But at some point, their mother got into a drug treatment program and eventually the girls went home.
“It was touch and go,” Hickson said. “But last I heard, they were in school.”
In the meantime, Hickson and a number of others remain committed to rescuing young girls and boys from the destruction of sexual exploitation. Top of their agenda now is to ensure that voters support the $5,000 annual fee on strip clubs in next year’s referendum.
“We have to remain vigilant because the adult entertainment industry has deep pockets,” Hickson said. “This is long-term work. There has to be a level of commitment.
-These little girls and the boys that are involved, are VICTIMS and to shackle them is an affront to all sane thinking people! The pimps need to be put in hard labor camps and the system needs to aggressively start programs to protect, rehabilitate and educate these victims to a better future! Licensing needs to be enacted for the privilege of bringing a child into the world, not the incentive of being able to sit your lazy ass on welfare! So many of these victims started as being pimped by their trailer trash mom’s boyfriends. Many were kidnapped out of good environments, yes, but millions of children born into poverty by irresponsible, ignorant parents become the ‘easy pickings.’
It is NOT A RIGHT to have a child, no matter what any knee-jerk asshole believes! It is the most important job a person will EVER do! I will continue to be as active in my community as possible and will pass out literature to open people’s eyes to this tragedy, but the people also need to put pressure on the Government to pass laws protecting these victims and that target and utterly destroy the lives of the pimps and johns involved in human trafficking!