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Amid Robert Kraft Charges, A Closer Look At Human Trafficking

An open sign hanging outside Orchid Relaxation in Honolulu,  May 6, 2015. The massage parlor was one of several local businesses that were targeted in a police prostitution sting. (Jennifer Sinco Kelleher,File/AP)
An open sign hanging outside Orchid Relaxation in Honolulu, May 6, 2015. The massage parlor was one of several local businesses that were targeted in a police prostitution sting. (Jennifer Sinco Kelleher,File/AP)

With Anthony Brooks

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is one of dozens of people accused of soliciting prostitution from women allegedly held in “sexual servitude.” We look at human trafficking in the U.S.

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Olivia Hitchcock, Reporter for the Palm Beach Post who is covering the sex trafficking ring in Florida. (@ohitchcock)

Rebekah Charleston, a sex trafficking survivor, she now works as a consultant with the National Criminal Justice Training Center and as an advocate for victims of sexual exploitation as the executive director of Valiant Hearts.

Robert Houston, former FBI special agent who specialized in counterterrorism and transnational organized crime. Co-founder of Praesidium Partners, an intelligence-driven advocacy group which fights against human trafficking globally.

From The Reading List

Palm Beach Post: “Human trafficking ‘evil in our midst,’ Aronberg says in announcing prostitution arrests” — “Calling human trafficking in Palm Beach County ‘evil in our midst,’ State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced Monday that 25 men accused of paying for sex acts at a Jupiter day spa have been formally charged with soliciting a prostitute.

“Among them is New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, the part-time Palm Beach resident who police said paid women twice for sex on consecutive days last month at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. One visit took place on the morning of Jan. 20, shortly before Kraft flew to Kansas City to see his team defeat the Chiefs that night in the AFC Championship game. Kraft, 77, faces two counts of soliciting a prostitute, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

“Also among them was John Havens, the former chief operation officer for Citigroup. Havens allegedly paid for a sex act on Jan. 22, according to police records.”

USA Today: “Sex trafficking, prostitution is anything but a ‘victimless crime,’ experts say” — “Memories come back to Rebecca Bender at unexpected times. Adrenaline-producing, heart-pounding flashbacks to the time in her life when she was controlled by a sex trafficker.

“Even years later, in the safety of her own family, triggers can come without warning.

“‘My toddler was 3 or 4, and you know, throwing a temper tantrum not wanting to go to bed. And my husband is taking her to the room like, “No, it’s bedtime.” And she’s just saying, “Please no, please no,”‘Bender says.

“That everyday moment of parenting recalled her experiences from more than a decade ago.

“‘I started panicking. I remembered other girls being taken in the other room, hearing them begging their trafficker to stop. And I could remember being dragged into other rooms and begging him to stop. Little things like that I’m not sure I’ll ever get over.’

“Bender’s experience is horrifying but not unique. There are hundreds of thousands of human trafficking victims in the U.S., estimates Polaris, a non-profit that operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline.”

Boston Globe: “Sex traffickers rely on the vulnerable and ‘keep reselling people’” — “It’s close to the perfect crime.

“The profits are easy. The victims are vulnerable. The illicit activity can be conducted almost anywhere — in vehicles, private residences, or storefronts — with little risk of being exposed.

“Commercial sex trafficking operations such as the one New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is accused of patronizing at a strip mall in Jupiter, Fla., have taken hold in plain sight across the country, including in Massachusetts, where a state law that created a separate crime for sex trafficking took effect only seven years ago.

“‘It’s a problem everywhere,’ former Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley said Saturday. Coakley was the state’s top prosecutor in 2012 when the anti-sex-trafficking law went into effect, carrying prison terms of five to 20 years for trafficking adults for commercial sex and possible life sentences for forcing minors into the illicit trade.”

NBC News: “What could be next for massage parlor workers discovered in Florida sex-trafficking bust” — “On Friday, Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.

“Kraft, who was not charged with human trafficking, was one of 25 people arrested as part of a months-long sex trafficking investigation, officials in Florida said. His spokesperson categorically denied that Kraft was ‘engaged in any illegal activity,’ adding that ‘Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.’

“After the charges against the men were announced, police said their attention is focused on possible victims.

“‘Obviously our concern in this investigation centers around our our possibility of victims of human trafficking,’ Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr said during a press conference Friday.

“The women working at the massage parlor appeared to be living at the business, according to a Jupiter Police Department probable cause affidavit. One investigator noticed personal items, such as clothing and medicine, next to beds. Additionally, officials noted that the business’ kitchen had a refrigerator with food and condiments that indicated the women were living on the premises.”

Gretchen Voss produced this hour for broadcast.

This article was originally published on

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