Sex Trafficking

View from the future 1 Divine Line 2 Health drop-in center.
Adora Namigadde / WOSU

A red van with cartoon decal is parked along the side of a road in the Hilltop. Several women gather outside the van, taking turns to approach for items like clothing and some donuts donated by a local bakery. 

State Sen. Theresa Fedor (D-Toledo) hosts Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the Ohio Statehouse on Feb. 27, 2020.
Ohio Senate

Ohio Democratic lawmakers brought in a big crowd for their 11th annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the Ohio Statehouse.

The number of human trafficking cases in Summit County is down slightly, but the crime may be evolving.

Acting Deputy Columbus Police Chief Jennifer Knight oversees the PACT team, which replaced the controversial Vice Unit.
Adora Namigadde / WOSU

Columbus Police's Vice Unit made a lot of mistakes during its heyday, says Acting Deputy Chief Jennifer Knight.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R-Ohio) speaks at the Human Trafficking summit organized by his office.
Andy Chow / Ohio Public Radio

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost wants state and community leaders to send a message throughout Ohio that there's help out there for survivors of human trafficking.

Red Roof Inn is one of the hotel chains being sued by sex trafficking survivors.
Mike Mozart / Flickr

Attorneys for sex trafficking survivors are asking a federal judge in Columbus to consolidate more than 20 cases into the U.S. District Court for Southern Ohio.

Rep. Rick Carfagna (R-Westerville) says a new bill in the Ohio Statehouse would increase penalties for johns and pimps.
Ohio House

Ohio lawmakers are proposing a new bill to bring tougher penalties against people who recruit and force others into prostitution, as well as the "johns" who pay for it.

Donna McMullen holds a photo of her daughter, Jessica, who died in September.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

“That’s my mommy, look!” Three-year old Adalynn McMullen points a little dimpled finger at a collage of photos on a trifold board.

The photos show her mom, Jessica McMullen, over the years – from when she was in diapers to just a few years ago, holding Adalynn on her lap.

Michael Coghlan / Flickr

The Salvation Army has opened a West Side drop-in center for survivors of human trafficking.

CATCH Court graduate Melissa Callaway hugs her sister.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Graduates walked into the atrium of the Ohio Statehouse, greeted by cheers from their friends and loved ones. One by one, they step up to the microphone.

“I spent 37 years of my life a homeless drug addict, a victim of human trafficking on the streets of Columbus,” says Barb Davis. “I truly knew it was my destiny to die out there.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announces the results of a sex trafficking sting on September 13, 2019.
Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau

A three-day, multi-agency, undercover human trafficking sting in Central Ohio has resulted in the arrest of 104 people. This sting is just the latest in statewide efforts to combat human trafficking.

Less than three weeks after Jeffrey Epstein's suicide in prison, a federal judge has formally closed the sex trafficking case against the wealthy financier. On Thursday, Judge Richard Berman of the Southern District of New York approved a request filed by prosecutors to dismiss the charges.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

Jeffrey Epstein is dead, but that doesn't mean his accusers have been silenced.

Updated at 2:06 p.m. ET

A woman in New York who said she was raped by Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier who was charged with sex trafficking, is suing his estate, an associate and members of his staff for their alleged involvement in the scheme.

"Today I am starting to reclaim my power," Jennifer Araoz, 32, told reporters.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday comes after Epstein's apparent suicide left victims questioning how they would receive justice.

With Jeffrey Epstein's death by apparent suicide on Saturday, his accusers lost any chance to watch him stand trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges brought by federal prosecutors in Manhattan last month.

But they may still have other ways to pursue justice.

Pages