Jared Fogle & AJ Gonzales: Not the Usual Suspects

Where Jared Hid His Victims

Where Jared Hid His Victims

Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle is headed to prison for having sex with at least one child, receiving and distributing child pornography. Like 15-year-old A.J. Gonzales, the 15-year-old boy who allegedly killed little Maddy Middleton in Santa Cruz, #BadJared is not one of the usual suspects. How then, do we protect our kids when their abusers or killers do not conform to stereotypes?

 

Since at least 2007 #BadJared has been using his wealth, position and subterfuge to victimize and exploit America’s children. He was aware of and possessed, photos and video created and supplied by Russ Taylor, the disgraced Executive Director of Fogle’s children’s charity. Instead of notifying the police he possessed and distributed the kiddy porn. He has also pled guilty to paying at least two underage girls for sex. In all, there are 14-known victims named in the indictment against #BadJared.

 

In Santa Cruz, CA 8-year-old Maddy Middleton was missing for more than a day when her lifeless body was discovered in a dumpster at her apartment complex and her teenaged neighbor was arrested for her kidnapping, raping and murdering her. By outward appearance the neighbor boy was a non-threatening presence at the apartment complex who was well liked by the younger children.

Alleged Teen Rapist/Killer AJ Gonzales

Alleged Teen Rapist/Killer AJ Gonzales

Neither perp is a dirty old man in a trench coat. Neither was a registered sex offender, and both were seeming well liked within their community. In other words neither were waving red flags. How then do we protect our kids from predators that lurk below the radar?

 

First, I think it is important that children understand that they don’t have to automatically submit to the requests of every adult put in front of them. They shouldn’t have to kiss Aunt Sally, stay around for extra Soccer practice with Coach Larry, or prepare the sacrament with Father John. They should be taught to be respectful but skeptical of the adults that they come into contact with. They should trust their feelings if something doesn’t feel right, and feel comfortable declining invitations. Remember, it is a well-known fact that individuals who have sexual designs on children will find ways in their professions and volunteer activities to gain unsupervised access to your kids.

 

Parents should have ongoing safety conversations with their children. Look upon it a learning opportunity that will help them grow up into healthy, productive citizens. They should always check with their parents first. They should always be with at least one other trusted person. They should trust their feelings and be willing to put distance between themselves and the cause of their unease. I also think that it is a good idea to give your children cell phones. This gives them 24/7 direct access to you as well as enable you to track their movements through the cell phone’s GPS capability. Well…at least track the device.

 

Both of these goons are going to do hard time for their crimes. But will it be enough? Maddy has no life therefore no prospects, yet her killer will linger (at state expense) for decades. Who would be willing to calculate the damage done to #BadJared’s 14-victims? Fortunately, The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 established a federal, civil right of action for trafficking victims to sue their traffickers. Let’s hope that his victims litigate him into bankruptcy. Then, when he emerges from prison in a few years, his bank account will match his morality and his victims just may have a chance to put their lives back together.

Fat Cats & Bureaucrats

Let’s set the record straight.

 

Search - Brad

Brad Dennis & Cheyenne

On February 4, 2014 an FBI press release publicized the recovery of 16 children during a Super Bowl sex trafficking sting. Many of the children traveled to New Jersey from other states specifically to be prostituted at the Super Bowl. The children ranged in age from 13 to 17-years old, including high school students and children who had been reported missing by their families.  Additionally, more than 45-pimps and their associates were arrested during the Blitz the Traffickers sting operation. Arrests were made and victims recovered in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

 

A coalition of grass roots nonprofit organizations (NPO) partnered with law enforcement on Blitz the Traffickers, but the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was the only NPO mentioned in the FBI release. According to GuideStar, in 2012, NCMEC received a $31,715,505 grant from the United States Department of Justice to pursue their mission of helping to prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation; help find missing children; and assist victims of child abduction and sexual exploitation, their families, and the professionals who serve them. The NCMEC (2012) IRS Form 990 allocates $11,407,540 to, “Provide technical assistance and provide case analysis to assist law enforcement in their efforts to locate and recover missing children and victims of domestic child sex trafficking and to locate and apprehend noncompliant sex offenders”.

 

The NCMEC did not put boots on the ground at Super Bowl XLVIII. Instead, they distributed names and photographs of children they believe might be trafficked to the authorities; and they equipped law enforcement with “hope bags” containing items like flip flops and toothpaste for children rescued from prostitution. This is not a lot of bang for your buck.

Stop Sex Exploitation

Under the leadership of Search and Rescue Director Brad Dennis, KlaasKids, which receives no government funding, has been working with the New Jersey State Police since May 2013 and has participated in several of their sting operations leading up to the big game.  We were embedded with the law enforcement Super Bowl operation from January 28-February 1.  During this time, KlaasKids worked in direct contact with Federal and State intelligence analysts providing information to the operational elements of the law enforcement operation. Our role was two-fold: Providing specific leads regarding online advertisements which had a number of indicators suggesting the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Our most beneficial role was to provide additional analysis to any lead the FBI/NCMEC or other agencies provided to the intelligence unit. Our ability to conduct deep-web searches and scrub the initial ad looking for corroborative information enabled us to provide enhanced intelligence to the undercover operation, as well as, to the interviewers.

In Our BackyardThe KlaasKids Foundation was but one component in a nonprofit coalition that participated in the Blitz the Traffickers operation. For more than a year  Nita Belles worked with the New Jersey Attorney General’s office and local trafficking task forces to overcome operational obstacles and ensure the success of Blitz the Traffickers. The Pensacola based Called2Rescue team provided monitoring services of online escort ads and forwarded over 200-leads to the KlaasKids team in New Jersey. KlaasKids then scrubbed those leads for additional corroboration and submitted 23-specific leads to law enforcement. Several of these leads were in neighboring areas/states and were forwarded to those respective units by the FBI analysts. Free International and StudentReach developed a school assembly program featuring a state-of-the-art 3D multi-media production to prevent child exploitation and features posters of several of the missing children to 30-schools and 6-colleges in New Jersey. Global Child Rescue and Stop Sex Exploitation mobilized local faith based partners to disseminate the awareness posters and missing child books throughout New York and New Jersey.

Free International School Assembly

Free International School Assembly

5000-booklets containing images of 43-regional missing children along with 75,000-football cards featuring 3-missing children were distributed in New Jersey and Times Square, NY.  40,000-human trafficking awareness posters, designed by the Attorney General’s office featuring the New Jersey Human Trafficking Hotline were disseminated. Specific highlights of the Blitz the Traffickers operation included: 16-minors rescued.  27-pimps and/or associates were arrested in New Jersey and 17 in New York.

Global Child Rescue

Unlike the Arlington, VA based NCMEC and Washington, DC headquartered Polaris Project, the Blitz the Traffickers nonprofit coalition did not receive government funding. However, while NCMEC sent pictures and bags full of shampoo and water bottles, and the Polaris Project whined, the Super Bowl nonprofit coalition got busy. They directly assisted in rescuing children, apprehending pimps, and raising awareness about an issue that touches our soul deeply.

Called to Rescue

It seems to me that if American citizens are going to financially support missing child and anti-trafficking nonprofit organizations, they should expect a response that influences policy change through action, dedication and determination. Instead, our national treasure is being squandered on fat cats and bureaucrats.  As a nation we deserve better than that.

Blitz the Traffickers: Human Trafficking & the Super Bowl!

Super Bowl leadA January 18, 2014 USA Today article highlights efforts to combat and raise awareness about human trafficking at Super Bowl XLVIII, which will be held in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium in two days. ‘Blitz the Traffickers’ consists of a coalition of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and non-profit organizations. The coalition has received unprecedented media coverage and as a result, the public is more aware than ever about the scourge sex trafficking within our own borders. Unfortunately, some non-profit, anti-trafficking leaders are criticizing rather than supporting this effort.

Super Bowl XLIV

In 2009, the KlaasKids Foundation and the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking spearheaded the first Super Bowl Tackle the Traffickers. Online analysis using Craigslist and other websites favored by providers and customers was used to target selected geographic locations thought to be hotbeds of human trafficking. More than 45 volunteers distributed anti-trafficking literature and pictures of suspected underage victims to hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other businesses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater during Super Bowl week. As a result of this effort law enforcement secured enough information to arrest 33-traffickers prior to game day. They were also led to the “Treasure Island” trafficking case where three individuals were arrested for prostituting local women and girls.

Super Bowl HT Bust

Treasure Island Human Trafficking Arrests

 KlaasKids has been a non-profit leader working to highlight sex trafficking at every Super Bowl since 2009. The campaign as well as cooperation between law enforcement and non-profit participants has grown exponentially as has public awareness and education. Now, during our sixth consecutive Super Bowl outreach major media outlets are featuring sex trafficking, Congress is holding briefings, and law enforcement is working hand in hand with the KlaasKids Foundation and other non-profit vendors to rescue victims and punish sex traffickers at the Super Bowl. With enhanced public awareness and education about domestic human trafficking at an all-time high I fail to see the downside of this operation.

 

Unfortunately, not everybody shares my view. Bradley Myles, Executive Director of the Washington, DC based Polaris Project openly criticizes Blitz the Traffickers. “There’s not an enormous amount of data that tells the story that there’s a giant spike in trafficking around the Super Bowl. From our perspective, this is really a 365-day-a-year problem, and we want to make sure people’s focus is on all 365 days.” He goes on to say that by, “Focusing solely on the problem for a weekend won’t help victims whose traffickers may keep them away during the Big Game only to sell them once the public’s attention moves elsewhere.”

 

Polaris Project is committed to combatting human trafficking and to strengthening the anti-trafficking movement through a comprehensive approach. According to IRS form 990, in 2012, Polaris Project received $7,234,451 in total donations, including $1,297,434 in government funding. They budgeted $883,224 for the DC Trafficking Intervention Program and the NJ Trafficking Intervention Program. They are charged with providing direct social services to victims of human trafficking in the Washington, DC and Newark, NJ metropolitan regions. Although MetLife Stadium is only 7-miles from downtown Newark, NJ, Myles prefers to criticize Blitz the Traffickers rather than offering to assist human trafficking victims rescued at the Super Bowl with direct social services.

 

The KlaasKids Foundation does not receive government funding and is not compensated its Super Bowl outreach program. Yet we have been very successful in increasing overall awareness of human trafficking, in pioneering online monitoring and reporting, in creating a campaign to increase public awareness of area missing children, and limiting opportunities for pimps and johns. KlaasKids understands that human trafficking is a 365 day problem in the United States, but believes that the Super Bowl is a perfect stage to highlight the issue. It should be obvious to anyone who actually pays attention that the Super Bowl is symbolic of any huge public event that draws large numbers of men with disposable income and time on their hands.

Super Bowl Outreach

Super Bowl Outreach

By linking arms and working toward common goals we can change the world. Efforts to rescue victims and punish traffickers can only be enhanced by working with other non-profit organizations with similar goals. It’s the difference between boots on the ground and lofty pronouncements from ivory towers. If you are going to talk the talk, you should be prepared to walk the walk: particularly if, like the Polaris Project, your talk is underwritten by taxpayer dollars.

Who is Little Maria?

Maria 1On October 16, 2013, during a drug and weapons raid, a little blond, blue eyed girl who goes by the name of Maria was found living in the squalor of a subsidized Gypsy encampment in central Greece. A local prosecutor on the scene became suspicious because the little girl, thought to be five or six-years-old, did not resemble her parents or siblings. A subsequent DNA test has determined that she is not related to other family members. The parents, who are also suspected of welfare fraud, have been arrested. They have provided conflicting reports on how Maria ended up in their custody. Maria has been placed with charity that is trying to locate her biological parents.

 

Parents

It is thought that there are upwards of 270,000 human trafficking victims living in the European Union at a given time. However, according to the latest data, a total of only 5,535 human trafficking victims were identified in the 24-European Union member states in 2010. 80% of victims were female and 17% were girls under the age of eighteen. The majority (around 62 %), of the victims are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, around 25 % for labor exploitation and around 14 % for the category “other”. Female victims have the largest share of victims classified under other forms of exploitation such as forced begging, selling of children etc., and there has been a gradual increase in the number of male victims across the three years. A clear majority (61 %) of the identified and presumed victims come from EU Member States.

 

Because the Greek birth registration system is antiquated welfare fraud is rampant. The couple who claimed to be Maria’s parents claim benefits totaling about $3,200/month for a total of 14-children, only four of whom have been identified. Various court records reveal that the woman was giving birth every four months during one period of time.

Parents 2

Maria’s Gypsy parents clearly have something to hide. The Gypsy couple say that they love Maria and are raising her as one of their own children, video suggests that she may have been singled out for exploitation. Initially they said that Maria had been given to them by her biological mother shortly after giving birth, but that story has changed repeatedly since they have been in custody.

 

Although this case is moving backwards in that the missing child was discovered before she was knowingly reported missing, it has already given hope to other missing child families. Madeline McCann’s parents have said that their hopes of being reunited with their daughter is reinvigorated by the discovery of little Maria. Similar sentiments have been published by the parents of other missing children.

Maria 2

There is a good chance that Maria will never be reunited with her biological family. If that occurs, let us hope that wherever she ends up, it is with a loving family who will give her the opportunities experience and love life that she never would have found in the squalor of the Gypsy village.

Proposition 35 and Human Sex Traffickers

Murdered Pimp Calvin Sneed

The crosshairs of Proposition 35 are correctly focused on human traffickers, otherwise known as pimps. Until we acknowledge that domestic sex traffic is America’s new dirty little secret, countless American children will continue to be exploited by the cruel manipulations of pimps. To date, these sex traffickers have been given a free pass, if not outright encouragement, to engage in the most exploitive of criminal behavior.

 

In the United States we have it backward. The girls involved in underage prostitution are often portrayed as criminals, drug addled crack whores who are incarcerated rather than assisted once law enforcement brings them in off of the street. On the other hand the pimp culture is glamorized through the music and video industry. We create pimp celebrities and legitimize them in mainstream media. We celebrate their exploits as media covers Players Balls that glorify the pimp lifestyle. Pimps are human traffickers and human traffickers are heinous criminals.

 

Pimping involves a complex relationship between a male pimp and one or more women and/or girls. The pimp wields complete control and induces commercial sex acts in order to make money. The pimp attains total control and obedience through intense manipulation that begins during the grooming process. Manipulations include feigned affection, brutal violence, and verbal, psychological, and/or emotional abuse. This breaking-down phase takes a girl from healthy adolescent sexual boundaries to commercial sex with strangers. This process has been widely-documented and replicated by pimps nationwide. In the trafficking paradigm, this process involves force, fraud, and coercion.  Seasoning often involves:

  • Beating/Slapping/Whipping; with hands, fists, and kicking, as well as with objects such as bats, tools, chains, and cords;
  • Burning; of personal items to foster hopelessness and demoralization or directly burning women and girls using cigarette/cigar butts;
  • Sexual assault; rape or gang rape;
  • Confinement; lock women and girls in closets, trunks of cars, or rooms for indeterminate amounts of time;
  • Other torture techniques; such as food or water deprivation, or various forms of bondage such as chaining individuals to items or tying them up;
  • Emotional abuse; direct verbal insults, name-calling, threats, mind control, brainwashing, cognitive re-programming;
  • Re-naming; offering “nicknames” both for endearment and to erase former identity;
  • Creating dependencies; by instructing how to walk, how to talk, what to wear, when to eat, when to sleep, and where to sleep;
  • Removal from familiarity and support structures; by transporting a woman or minor to a new location where she knows no one;
  • Document confiscation; of identification documents (ID, birth certificate, SS number);
  • Forced sexual education; inducement of viewing pornography to learn to have sex.

Advertising the Players Ball

It is well-documented that pimps establish mandatory monetary quotas that typically range from $500 – $1,000. The women and girls under their control must fulfill their quota in order to end each night of commercial sex. Quotas are strictly enforced, and the punishment for failing to meet a quota is severe physical retaliation from the pimp. In pimp-controlled situations, the women and girls keep zero of this money and turn 100-percent of the profits over to the pimp. Pimp-controlled commercial sexual exploitation of children is linked to escort and massage services, private dancing, drink and photographic clubs, major sporting and recreational events, major cultural events, conventions and tourist destination.

Right now “It’s Not So Hard Out There For A Pimp”, but it will be as soon as we pass Proposition 35.

Proposition 35 and Human Sex Trafficking

On November 6, California voters can launch the single largest movement against human trafficking in our country and pass the toughest anti-human trafficking law in the United States by voting YES on Proposition 35. We will deliver a firm statement to traffickers around the world that we take slavery seriously and care about those in bondage.

 

Human trafficking, the modern day equivalent of slavery, became an American legislative priority when President Bush signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000. Human trafficking, which includes labor and sex trafficking, is acknowledged as the second most profitable international criminal enterprise after drug smuggling. Victims of human trafficking are forced or coerced to work or commit sexual acts by violent criminals who strip them of their dignity and their freedom.

The TVPA was based on the theory that the United States is a destination country for human trafficking. However, original TVPA estimates of 50,000 women and children trafficked into the United States annually have since been downgraded to 14,500-17,500 per year, so initial estimates were reduced by more than two-thirds after the legislation was signed into law. The direction of the TVPA, which agencies would administer it, and which populations would be targeted were based upon seriously flawed data.

 

The Federal definition of sex trafficking includes when, “a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.” It is very simple: according to Federal law, children can never consent to prostitution, it is always exploitation. A person who has not attained 18 years of age and is induced to perform a commercial sex act is then a victim of human sex trafficking. Therefore, all underage youth who are involved in prostitution, and who are under the influence of a pimp, are by definition, victims of human sex trafficking.”

 

Between 1.6 and 2.8 million children run away annually in the U.S., half of which are girls. Within 48 hours of hitting the streets, one third of these children are lured or recruited into the underground world of prostitution or pornography.  The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12-14.  For boys, the entry age is 11-13.

 

These harrowing statistics provides broad justification for a growing focus upon the domestic side of this issue, because the statistics conclusively demonstrate that the USA is a source country as well as a destination country for Human Sex Trafficking. Unfortunately, the vast majority of resources unleashed by the TVPA are still globally directed. This is why Prop 35 is so important to California’s future.

 

In addition, current California law is inadequate to deal with the realities of human trafficking in our state. The California Trafficking Victims Protection Act (CTVPA), passed in 2005, established human trafficking for forced labor or services as a felony crime punishable by a sentence of 3, 4 or 5 years in state prison and a sentence of 4, 6 or 8 years for trafficking of a minor. Incredibly, according to California law, there is no stated penalty for sex trafficking of a minor without force. The CTVPA was written when domestic human trafficking was viewed as a crime impacting mainly foreign nationals brought into this country. It overlooked thousands of American minors and adults who were also exploited.

Proposition 35 will eliminate barriers to prosecute child sex traffickers by removing the requirement to prove “force, fraud or coercion” of a minor trafficking victim. Prop 35 will deter traffickers in California with higher penalties and fines, use fines to fund victim services, mandate training for law enforcement officers, require convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders, require all sex offenders to disclose Internet accounts, and protect victims in court proceedings.

 

The choice is clear. On November 6, California voters can draw a line in the sand and stand up for domestic victims of human sex trafficking, or we can continue a status quo approach that criminalizes young victims as it celebrates some of the most heinous criminals in our midst: human sex traffickers. I am going to vote Yes on Prop 35, because to turn our backs on the tens of thousands of children being trafficked in California is simply another form of victimization.

To Protect and Serve: A Tale of Two Dads

As long as law enforcement serves and protects the innocent against criminal activity, personal retribution is not an option. However, when public safety institutions fail to take action against known criminals and do not intervene to assist victims whose safety is at risk, then they seem to be serving and protecting criminal activity. When criminal justice is perceived as justice for criminals, and victims are ignored, desperate people will seek desperate solutions. I do not condone vigilante justice, but justice must be served, and in the case of the death of Calvin Sneed, a known pimp, the burden of justice was placed squarely on the shoulders of Barry Gilton and Lupe Mercado.

 

On Saturday, June 9 a party in Shiner, TX turned deadly when a 23-year-old father caught a 47-year-old acquaintance sexually molesting his 4-year-old daughter. The young dad beat the man to death on the spot. Thus far, no charges have been filed as Nancy Grace and a slew of experts and pundits, including me, have lauded the young man as a “father of the year,” for his impulsive, deadly action. The District Attorney has sent the case to the Grand Jury. If the Grand Jury does file charges it will probably be impossible to find a Texas jury that would convict this father for protecting his young daughter from a violent sex crime.

 

Calvin Sneed

At 2:00 a.m., on Monday June 4, 22-year-old pimp Calvin Sneed was gunned down near San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. On June 9, Barry Gilton and Lupe Mercado were charged with murdering Sneed, conspiracy to commit murder and one count of discharging a firearm at an occupied vehicle. They are both being held in lieu of $2-million bail.

 

About a year ago Barry Gilton and Lupe Mercado’s 17-year-old daughter was lured away from her San Francisco home by 22-year-old Calvin Sneed. Soon, Snead was forcing their daughter to have sex with strangers throughout California. Upon learning that their daughter was appearing in on-line escort ads, Gilton and Mercado entered her in several missing and exploited children registries and sought help from several law enforcement agencies. The authorities were either unable or unwilling to assist. San Francisco Attorney General George Gascon said that as a father, he understood “the frustration that the parents must have felt…. But taking the law into your own hands is not an acceptable solution.”

 

According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), signed into law by President Bush in 2000, sex trafficking occurs when a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age. In California the age of consent is 18, so clearly laws were being violated. Yet the authorities refused to help when desperate parents asked them to intervene when a pimp forced their underage daughter to have sex with strangers over the long term.

 

Pimping involves a complex relationship between a male pimp and one or more women and/or girls. The pimp wields complete control and induces commercial sex acts in order to make money. The pimp attains authoritative levels of control and obedience through intense manipulation that begins during the grooming process. Manipulations include feigned affection, brutal violence, and verbal, psychological, and/or emotional abuse. This breaking-down phase takes a girl from healthy adolescent sexual boundaries to commercial sex with strangers.  This process has been widely-documented and replicated by pimps nationwide. In the trafficking paradigm, this process involves force, fraud, and coercion.

 

Seasoning often involves beating the girls with hands, fists, and kicking, as well as with objects such as bats, tools, chains, and cords. Burning of personal items to foster hopelessness and demoralization or directly burning women and girls using cigarette/cigar butts is another common tactic. Underage prostitutes also fear rape or gang rape, being locked in closets, the trunks of cars or rooms for indeterminate amounts of time. They also face other torture techniques such as food or water deprivation, or various forms of bondage such as chaining individuals to items or tying them up; direct verbal insults, name-calling, threats, mind control, brainwashing, cognitive re-programming, and other mind boggling forms of violence.

 

It is well-documented that pimps establish mandatory monetary quotas that typically range from $500 – $1,000. The women and girls under their control must fulfill their quota in order to end each night of commercial sex. Quotas are strictly enforced, and the punishment for failing to meet a quota is severe physical retaliation from the pimp. In pimp-controlled situations, the women and girls keep zero of this money and turn over 100-percent of the profits to the pimp.


Why don’t underage prostitutes leave, given that it is a difficult life and the pimp has all the advantages? For a wide variety of reasons, girls under a pimp’s control will often not self-identify as victims of human trafficking or seek help on their own for a variety of reasons. They may be locked indoors. They face or fear severe physical retaliation, including beatings and rape, if they are caught trying to escape. The pimp threatens reprisals against family members. The girls feel shame about the activities they have been forced to perform. They may have a debt to the pimp that they believe they need to pay off or feel loyalty, similar to Stockholm syndrome, to the pimp. They may be resigned to their fate, or may have no personal resources to assist them. Finally, the girls may distrust law enforcement, and given the current scenario, that is perfectly understandable.

 

San Francisco’s District Attorney says that, “Deadly force is only justified when you’re defending someone from an immediate threat of deadly force or great bodily injury”. Calvin Sneed was a monster who forced Gilton and Mercado’s underage daughter onto the street at all hours, demanded that she have sex with any stranger willing to pay the price, and advertised her in online sex ads. She was a defenseless girl, subject to AIDS and numerous other STD’s, oftentimes alone with anonymous strangers who lurk in the night. What part of that scenario does not constitute a, “threat of deadly force or great bodily injury”? The District Attorney says that they are looking into whether or not, “She was there willingly or forced to be there,” however according to the law that is not a consideration. She is an underage serial crime victim that the authorities were unwilling to acknowledge let alone rescue. Her parents attempted numerous avenues of legal recourse and were shut down every time.

 

Attorneys for Gilton and Mercado say that the couple is innocent. They acknowledge that they had a motive, but point out that there are no eye witnesses and no murder weapon. Gilton’s attorney Eric Safire points out that, “What we do know is that the victim is a known gang member, he was out at 2 a.m. in a high crime area—I can only presume he was engaged in his normal and customary [pimping] activities. He was subject to gang violence.”

 

What’s wrong with this picture? How can we condemn a parent, no matter what they do, for protecting their child? Whether it’s being caught in the immediacy of the victimization or watching from home as their child is being serially victimized in the public arena. Parents are fighting for and having to protect their children, who are being sexually victimized, in ways that are illegal, either because law enforcement is not present or refuses to make themselves present. As the parent of a murdered child, I understand. If I were given the chance to protect and save Polly I would have done whatever I needed to do, including shooting her killer, who now sits on California’s death row, to death. We need to protect our children. Whether it is writing new laws or enforcing existing laws. If it means keeping perpetrators behind bars, or forcing law enforcement to handle cases in times of tight budgets, we need to support parents, who are victims themselves, to protect and preserve their children from violent criminal activity.