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District Attorney for Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Court Fred Bright has brought charges against a 14-year-old girl in Georgia, even though she is a minor and a victim of illegal child sex trafficking. Earlier in January of 2015, law enforcement in the rural community of Eatonton in Putnam County, Georiga broke up a child prostitution ring that involved 11 adult men and a minor child. While the adults are and should be charged with a crime, the County has chosen to prosecute the minor as a prostitute as well.
There is a petition on Change.org that has already accumulated over 100,000 signatures since going up on the site on January 8th, 2015 asking the prosecutor, the police department involved in the investigation and the state Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice to take action and protect both this unnamed teenage victim and those like her in the future from prosecution. Considering that Georgia’s laws make it clear that a child this age is not legally able to consent to sex, let alone to consent to being trafficked by multiple older men, the fact that anyone even considered charging this minor child with a crime is obscene.
The prosecutor’s response to this petition (which can be read in its entirety here) is that they’re holding her case in abeyance pending the completion of court-ordered services. It basically says, “Hey, as long as this traumatized young girl does whatever we say when we say it as far as therapy, self-care and lifestyle goes, we won’t actually prosecute her.” What they’re not making clear is that this girl, who is likely very traumatized as the result of this experience, could find the therapy itself traumatizing, especially if she isn’t being given a choice in the matter. She should not be forced into treatment until such as time as she is ready to process what has happened to her. The services should be available to her at no cost but should not be mandatory for this child, a victim of a terrible crime, to avoid being branded as a sex offender and criminal herself.
Please add your name to the petition and share this story widely! No child victim of sex trafficking should have her future determined by someone who thinks she’s a criminal if she can’t complete therapy.
For previous articles that touch on the abuse of minors published by Ladybud Magazine, click here.
Photo Credit: ImmortalLegacy under (CC BY 3.0) via DeviantArt