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Sex crimes targeted through new crackdown on trafficking

New strategies for prosecuting sex crimes in Wisconsin could lead to an increase in arrests for human trafficking. Authorities report that although Wisconsin may not appear to be a hotbed for these sex crimes, human trafficking actually occurs throughout the state. A recent courtroom case resulted in the state's first successful conviction for human trafficking, and authorities say other changes are on the way.

The conviction occurred after evidence surfaced that the defendant had essentially kidnapped a victim and forced her to have sex with scores of men throughout the region. The woman was victimized for nine days before she was able to escape by asking a hotel clerk for assistance. That event occurred in October 2010; the defendant was convicted in 2012. He is now serving a 17-year prison term.

Authorities say that sex crimes such as human trafficking are often difficult to identify because they are often confused with prostitution. Although about two in five women who are arrested for prostitution eventually face charges, the vast majority of their male clients are never prosecuted. Now, investigators say they are attempting to level the playing field by identifying more cases of human trafficking. Since that first criminal conviction, two other defendants have been successfully prosecuted under human trafficking laws.

Human trafficking can occur in both child and adult populations. Those cases are prosecuted differently, as coercion must be proven for an adult who was victimized. Children are assumed to have been coerced, according to authorities.

Defendants who have been targeted through criminal charges for human trafficking may benefit from the assistance of a Wisconsin attorney who understands prosecutors' new strategies. These professionals may provide additional information about legal options, which can include plea agreements and other choices. A criminal defense attorney provides valuable services during a sex trafficking proceeding.

Source: USA Today, "Sex-trafficking cases hard to crack in Wisconsin" Shereen Siewert, Mar. 26, 2014

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