Thursday, September 18, 2008

Human Trafficking law nets first conviction

Two Nebraska teenagers may have been looking for freedom or fun when they fled a Fremont group home and headed for Omaha last August.

But they found Leonard Ray Russell, a 37-year-old man who dragged the girls across Iowa, forcing them to solicit sex and perform at strip clubs in exchange for food and shelter.

A Crawford County, Iowa, jury last week found Russell guilty of two counts of human trafficking. It was the first conviction under a 2006 Iowa law, which makes it a felony offense to recruit or transport someone for the purpose of "commercial sexual activity.''

One of the law's champions, former State Sen. Maggie Tinsman of Davenport, Iowa, said the conviction shows the law is needed to thwart those who seek to profit off the vulnerability of others.

"This is truly a human rights thing,'' said Tinsman.

Read more here.

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