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The Aftermath of Human Trafficking

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On February 23, 2017, Daederick Lacy, of Wichita, KS, was convicted of one count of sex trafficking of a child, one count of sex trafficking accomplished by force, fraud, or coercion, and one count of transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. (2017)The Memorandum and Order for The United State of America V. Daederick Lacy case 16-10009-EFM documents, that in the Winter of 2015, Lacy separately contacted two minor girls via Facebook about getting into a ‘glamorous’ lifestyle of travel and partying. Upon meeting, Lacy talked each girl into ‘meetings’ with clients at motels and paid them for their services. At one point, Lacy took the cell phone and car keys of one of the victims and drove her to a client meeting where he forced her to perform sexual acts for money. After one victim contacted the local police about Lacy, he took another minor victim to Texas in order to lay low and make more money from her services.

On May 11, 2017, Lacy was sentenced to 24 years in Federal prison for his human trafficking infractions. Currently, Lacy is serving his time at a United States Penitentiary in Kentucky, with an earliest release date of 2037. (2017)

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Living in Wichita, KS, citizens are no stranger to hearing about human trafficking cases. Being in the middle of the country has its advantages for traffickers; big cities with multiple interstate highways and colleges. With the rise of social media, it’s easier for traffickers to access young women, and promise them nice things in exchange for a little ‘work.’

In October 2017, John H. Dickerson, of Wichita, KS, was sentenced to 187 months in Federal Prison after pleading guilty to one count of the sex trafficking of a minor and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm following a felony conviction. Dickerson was prostituting a 17-year-old girl, who he took to a motel to meet a an undercover Wichita Police Detective before they were both taken into custody. (White, 2017)

In April 2018, Roderick Martin, of Wichita, KS, was sentenced to 18 years State Prison after he pled guilty to two counts of commercial sexual exploitation of a child, two counts of kidnapping, four counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. In 2015, Martin and another accomplice picked up two runaway girls, aged 15 and 16, then sexually assaulted and pimped them out. (Tidd, 2017)

We often hear of these cases in our communities, follow the trials through sentencing, then they’re usually forgotten. We know what happens to the bad guys, they go to prison and do their time; but what happens to the victims? What happens to the victims that were caught in the schemes and business of the trafficking game? Many victims may be reunited with their families and live full meaningful lives, and others will not be so lucky. Many of these victims come from already broken families, parent-absent homes, and poverty. Dr. Michael Palmiotto states in his book, Combating Human Trafficking, that victims of human trafficking often suffer from Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression. Dealing with these debilitating disorders can really affect day to day life, and make the simplest tasks feel impossible. (Palmiotto, 2015) Victims will often isolate themselves, act out, detach or avoid family or friends that are trying to be there for them, and sometimes they will return to the streets and the lifestyle that traumatized them in the first place. Those that return to the lifestyle willingly, or by force, often end up as offenders in the system. In 2004, a 16-year-old Cyntoia Brown, shot and killed her rapist pimp, Johnny Allen. Brown was tried as an adult in 2006 and sentenced to life in Prison. While Prosecution argued that Brown was a cold-blooded killer who planned the robbery and killing of Johnny Allen, the Defense argued that Brown was a 16-year-old child that had prostituted out, drugged, and raped by different men in the days leading up to the incident. Brown has reportedly been a model inmate, has earned a college degree, and is currently in the appeals process of a clemency hearing. (Allen, 2018)

More often than murder, victims of trafficking often get caught in the Criminal Justice system for charges such as drug and paraphernalia charges, and prostitution/solicitation.

Tia Brungardt is a Parole Officer with the Kansas Department of Corrections who supervises an all-female caseload of offenders who have entered the community to be supervised on Parole. Brungardt states that many female offenders have been victimized in the past whether it’s child-hood trauma or situations such as human trafficking; many of her offenders have some sort of prostitution history, as that was a way for them to get by in life at one point whether it was by choice or not. When asked how many offenders she currently has with a trafficking background, PO Brungardt stated that out of her 60 current offenders, only 5-6 of them have disclosed a trafficking history, although, she estimates that the number is probably closer to 15-20 offenders out of 60. PO Brungardt added that she very rarely, if ever, has anyone volunteer this information, it is usually only found out during assessments and probing into their criminal history and background. “This type of admission is often followed by admitting that they have feelings of shame for being involved in that lifestyle, even if it was not a decision that they made for themselves,” PO Brungardt stated. Brungardt provided a few examples of offenders who came from different backgrounds with similar charges, who took different routes during their supervision.

Offender A is a female in her mid-30’s with a current conviction of Possession (methamphetamines), with past convictions that include Criminal Damage to Property and DUI. Offender A has two children that were put into the foster care system while she was addicted to illegal substances. Offender A was prostituted out as a teenager against her will and ended up with a drug habit that eventually led to a prison sentence. Upon releasing from prison this year, Offender A entered inpatient treatment, where she graduated successfully and has been living at the Raise My Head Foundation house that has been helping her with her sobriety, education, self-worth, and getting her children back.

Offender B is a female in her early 40’s with a current conviction of Possession (cocaine), with past convictions that include Battery against LEO, Theft, Possession of THC, DUI, Forgery, Sale of Sexual Relations, and Anti Sex Trafficking Area. Offender B was introduced to prostitution in her 20’s, and she eventually made the decision to continue these behaviors to support herself and her habits. Offender B has eight children, seven of whom have been adopted by her parents, with the eighth one recently taken by Department for Children and Families. Offender B does not have contact with her parents or any of her children, and she used illegal substances while pregnant with most of her children. Due to her drug habits, Offender B does not have the support of her family and continues to turn to drugs and inappropriate relationships for support. Offender B has continued using illegal substances, has absconded and had her supervision revoked multiple times over the last year, she continues to turn down substance abuse treatment and resources for women who have been victims of prostitution and trafficking. Offender C is a female in her early 20’s with a current conviction of Involuntary Manslaughter and Robbery, with past convictions that include Sale of Sexual Relations and several driving infractions. Offender C reported that her children’s Father used to beat and pimp her out on a regular basis. On a regular night after completing a ‘job’ with a John, her boyfriend came into the room to rob the John and ended up killing him. Offender C was convicted with Involuntary Manslaughter and Robbery after the Prosecution argued that she was aware of the Robbery; she has maintained that she did not know what her boyfriend was going to do. Offender C lives with her parents and her two children, she engages in occasional THC use, but has never had an issue with any other illegal substances. Offender C is engaging in substance abuse treatment and checks in regularly with a Department for Children and Families Case Manager in an effort to keep her children in her life.

PO Brungardt talked about the obstacles faced by this group offenders. They often have little to no legitimate work experience, they carry around feelings of shame, they have extremely hard times finding and fostering healthy relationships, and the biggest obstacle is that they have damaged self-esteem, and little self-worth. “You can do horrible things when you don’t believe in yourself,” PO Brungardt stated. PO Brungardt discussed in further detail how finding and fostering healthy relationships is vital to their success, “If they don’t have a good support system, then they are less likely to succeed. When you have no self-esteem, and most the people that have been around you lately are only there to use you, you’re going to have a hard time doing the right thing and finding what’s good for you. Having family and friends who support you means all the difference when you’re vulnerable.”

PO Brungardt stated that depending on how they were introduced to the world of prostitution will also determine how they may or may not succeed when coming out of prison, “In my own experience, I’ve seen that if at any point, they chose to participate in prostitution, they are more likely to turn back to that lifestyle to get the things that they want or need. ” PO Brungardt spoke of the differences between Offender A and Offender C, with Offender A, she was forced into the prostitution lifestyle, so when she made the decision to quit, it stuck. With Offender B, while in the beginning she was forced into prostitution, later in life, she chose to go back to it because it helped her get the money she needed, so she’s still struggling by going in and out of that lifestyle. “Offender A made the decision to be done with the lifestyle, got herself clean, and into programs she knew would benefit herself and her life. The Raise My HeadFoundation saved her life,” PO Brungardt stated before adding, “Offender B will continue struggling until she finds that living a life crime-free is worth it.”

PO Brungardt elaborated on her favorite, little-known, trafficking resource, the Raise My Head Foundation. PO Brungardt explained, “They have helped a few of my offenders more than I ever could have imagined. It is a two-year program where they have a house that individuals can live in; they are not allowed to work outside in the community for one year. During this year they work on small projects and businesses that the Foundation support, such as making their own soaps and perfumes to sell at local shows and Farmers Markets. After one year, individuals can seek out employment in the community. During their stay, they required to take a survivor’s course at the Wichita State University Campus, and upon completion, the Foundation will assist in funding the individual’s education is whatever field they like.”

The Raise My Head Foundation is a Kansas-based Foundation that aids women in breaking free from sex trafficking and giving them resources to help lift them up. The Raise My Head Foundation hosts Galas and Coffee Shop Nights, takes donations, and fund raises in the City throughout the year. They raise awareness to the massive problem that is sex trafficking in the community and encourage victims to step out and seek assistance. The Raise My Head Foundation is able to host eight women at a time in their residential home, assisting them with medical and psychological needs, while provide emotional and monetary support.

Other big named resources available in the Wichita, KS area include the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center (WASAC) and ICTSOS. While WASAC has been around for quite a while helping many who have been victims of sexual assault, ICTSOS is a newer, lesser-known non-profit who do not work with victims directly, but instead connect victims to the most appropriate agencies and resources for their situation. ICTSOS is in direct contact with local and national agencies, as well as trafficking specific agencies. ICTSOS is in partnership with the Fair Girls curriculum that is being taught in middle and high schools to educate at-risk youth about the dangers of trafficking and intimate partner violence.

In today’s society, we will never be short of news stories to watch and follow along as the bad guy goes through his court procedures. We have to remember that behind every bad guy is a victim, someone who didn’t ask for the cards that life dealt them, and that they are in more need of that attention than the bad guy. Every day, new victims are made in the human trafficking world, and education and resources are what can help slow that down. Educating our youth about intimate partner violence, consent, and the red flags of dangerous situations could make the biggest difference in saving one of them from going down a road that they can’t easily recover from. Remembering that just because an individual has a criminal record, has been to Prison, or has a substance abuse problem, does not make their past traumas invalid. These individuals struggle with their pasts and have even more obstacles to overcome to achieve that healthy lifestyle.

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