University of Southern California

Limping Toward Decriminalization: The Case Act, De Facto Decriminalization of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Victims, and 2-Way CCTV

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Note by Alyssa N. Daniels
From Volume 88, Number 6 (September, 2015)

At about 8:15 a.m. on May 2, 2012, National City Police picked up a fourteen-year-old runaway for loitering and suspected prostitution. Lauren’s twenty-eight-year-old “boyfriend” had brought her from her hometown of El Paso, Texas, to California to pimp her out.

While her “boyfriend” was exploiting her, Lauren performed hundreds of sexual acts on clients. Typically meeting with seven to ten “johns” each day, she was shuffled from one seedy southern California hotel room to the next. Her trafficker moved her from Los Angeles, down to San Diego, back up to Los Angeles, down to Orange County, and finally back to San Diego where she was arrested. During this time, her “boyfriend” had total control over Lauren—he posted online advertisements offering her sexual services on Backpage.com, arranged and paid for the hotel rooms in which she met her clients, dictated how she should dress, and took all of her earnings.

After being picked up by police in National City, Lauren ran away from a victim’s service center back to her “boyfriend.” She was arrested again for prostitution less than a week later in Los Angeles. Her trafficker was arrested as well and eventually charged by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California with Sex Trafficking of a Child in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591 and Transportation of a Minor to Engage in Prostitution in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a).

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