MIAMI COUNTY — More than a 100 police officers, medical and children’s services professionals and community members gathered this week to learn more about victim’s rights and human trafficking in the Miami Valley.
The Miami County Victim Witness Program presented the two-day seminar during their 13th annual Crime Victim Rights Week at First Lutheran Church in Troy.
On Wednesday, Theresa Flores, a survivor of human trafficking and author and creator of Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (S.O.A.P.) and educated the audience how the practice of human trafficking passes through Miami County each and every day.
Flores explained how the Dayton region was a prime location for human trafficking due to its close proximity to other state borders, near five colleges and universities, a military base and a casino — and has numerous strip clubs near the interstate.
“Dayton has a lot of human trafficking cases and so does Toledo …s o they are going from Detroit to Toledo to Dayton and they are going right through here,” Flores said.
Victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of “labor or services,” such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm-workers forced to labor against their will.
According to U.S. Federal Bureau of Information Crime Reports, Ohio has ranked as high as fifth among all states in total reported human trafficking cases, with Toledo being identified as the fourth highest ranking city in the nation for recruiting victims into the illegal trade.
In 2013, Troy Police Department arrested Kenneth Brandt for child rape and complicity to commit rape of his own children at his home in the Stonyridge neighborhood. An investigation by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force discovered Brandt’s child-sex ring, which involved a Craigslist ad for sexual acts with his two adopted children under the age of 13. Brandt was sentenced to 60 years to life in prison.
Flores shared how “pimps” prey on young children and college students at malls, online, libraries and groom them into trusting them and brainwashing them before forcing them into sexual slavery.
Flores is the author of two books “The Slave Across the Street” and co-authored “Slavery In the Land of the Free: A Student’s Guide to Modern Day Slavery.”
During Thursday’s session, Kim Eberle, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) shared the process of collecting and protecting evidence. Bruce Adams, a retired crime victim advocate spoke about the crime victim movement and Bob Paudert, a retired West Memphis Chief of Police spoke about sovereign citizens and other law enforcement dangers.
The two-day seminar was made possible by numerous donations and a grant from the Department of Justice through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office.
Reach Melanie Yingst at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews