POWER AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING
We often have a predisposed idea of what a trafficker looks like, and sometimes it isn't what we think. Sometimes the exploiters are high-powered or well-known members of our communities who use their names and power to control and exploit victims. We remember the case of famous singer R. Kelly, who for decades exploited women in the music industry. The only difference between R. Kelly's behavior and a classic pimp was that R. Kelly kept the women and girls to himself.
But R. Kelly is not the first or last influential man being held accountable for sex trafficking. Here are some recent examples of powerful celebrities involved in trafficking. We expect to see other cases and applaud brave survivors for speaking out against injustice.
Four women sued Bassnectar for sexual abuse and human trafficking. The lawsuit claims, "it was abundantly clear that Bassnectar was targeting and engaging in commercial sex acts with minors and utilizing his shows and organizations to accomplish the exploitation of young girls." He solicited underage girls through various channels, including Twitter, fan clubs, and charitable initiatives like the BeInteractive amBASSadors program. He gave them free tickets to his concerts, and through those relationships, invited them to his hotel room, where he coerced them into engaging in sex for money.
The actress Esmé Bianco, best known for her role as Ros on Game of Thrones, filed suit against Marilyn Manson and his former manager Tony Cuilla. She claims that the abuse began in 2009 when she flew to L.A. to work on a video for Manson and soon discovered that the “shoot” was being filmed with Flip cameras by the singer himself. Not only did he defraud her with the promise of a work-related project that did not exist, she was also expected to stay at his home and was deprived of food during her four-day stay; she was given drugs and alcohol.
TI and Tiny
The number of accusers against Clifford "T.I." Harris and Tameka "Tiny" Harris continues to increase as more women come forward with claims of sex crimes and a recent allegation of sex trafficking. One woman said she met the couple at a Miami nightclub in 2010. They "forced" her to swallow a pill, and Tiny later undressed her and proceeded to rape her at a South Beach hotel. A second woman alleges that T.I. and a male friend drugged and raped her in Miami during the 2010 Memorial Day weekend, the report said. A third woman describes a similar experience of being "drugged" and "sex trafficked," which ultimately led to her being trafficked by the couple in multiple states.
When we use the term “power” in human trafficking, it is not necessarily about celebrities and fame. Sometimes local governors, priests, or teachers have much more power over potential victims than famous musicians. As part of our national work, we monitor daily cases of human trafficking across every US state. Here are the cases from the last month.
Portland Police have accused a former speaker of the Oregon House and current lobbyist in Salem of soliciting sex from an undercover officer. Democrat Dave Hunt lives in Milwaukie and represented northern Clackamas County in the Legislature for a decade. From 2009 to 2011, he served as speaker of the House, and he previously served one term as House majority leader.
Former Wyoming Senator John Hastert and three other men were arrested in a prostitution sting. Hastert represented House District 39 from 2003 to 2006 and Senate District 13 from 2007 to 2018. Each man was charged with one count of soliciting an act of prostitution, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail, and a $750 fine.
David Delong, 60, is a teacher at Massillon City School District. He answered an online advertisement offering explicit sexual services in exchange for a cash payment and was charged with engaging in prostitution.
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