Since becoming a State Representative in 2015, I have worked hard to pass legislation to protect victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault. The bills I sponsored and cosponsored had overwhelming bipartisan support—working together, we can deter these terrible crimes, bring the perpetrators to justice, and help the victims recover and heal.
Fighting the scourge of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is increasing in Colorado, the nation, and worldwide. In Colorado Springs, a local group called the Avenue Task Force had been working with law enforcement and prosecutors to shut down sham massage therapy businesses run by human traffickers. Working with the Avenue Task Force and massage therapists, my bill increased local and state enforcement tools against human traffickers. We are monitoring the implementation of this new law, to evaluate the need for future legislation.
We must ensure that local and state law enforcement, prosecutors, and regulatory agencies have the resources and tools to investigate, prosecute, and punish human traffickers with jail time and the seizure of traffickers’ profits from the evils of sex slavery. Only then can we turn the tide against human trafficking crimes in Colorado. We also modified the wire-tapping statute (kudos to Rep. Paul Lundeen as the primary sponsor), so law enforcement can now seek a wire-tap as part of a human trafficking investigation.
I was shocked to learn that Colorado law did not impose a mandatory jail sentence on human traffickers that profit from child sex slavery. The local District Attorney’s office under the leadership of Dan May brought this issue to my attention. As a result of my bill, state law now requires mandatory jail for a person convicted of human sex trafficking of a minor.
2018 – Human Trafficking Legislation:
I am honored to run a bill supported by the Colorado non-profit Truckers Against Traffickers and the trucking industry. The trucking industry has stepped up to report human trafficking occurring at truck stops in Colorado. My bill will assist the trucking industry in identifying human trafficking and reporting this criminal activity to law enforcement.
I am also running a bill to assist law enforcement and victim assistance groups with more flexible training tools on human trafficking, within the Colorado Department of Public Safety. This bill will also provide support for the Colorado School Safety Center and our dedicated non-profits fighting human trafficking recruitment in our schools. I want to recognize the leadership of the Southern Colorado Human Trafficking Coalition in bringing this school safety issue to my attention, and for their efforts to raise awareness in our schools about this threat to our children.
Help for victims of domestic violence
Victims of domestic violence now have address confidentiality protection in state and local government internet databases. This law was a result of a request to me from former El Paso County Assessor Mark Lowderman and current County Assessor Steve Schleiker.
Victims face a difficult decision when they consider leaving an abusive situation. There is the very real possibility of homelessness, financial insecurity, and the risk of increasing violence. Often the only safe option for them and, many times their children, is finding a place to stay that is unknown to their abuser. Therefore, it is critical that the victim’s location remain confidential.
Victims of domestic violence now may break their lease if they need to move because their abuser knows where they live. This is a result of legislation I co-sponsored last year.
Help for victims of child sexual assault
I worked to change the law so child victims of repeated sexual assault did not have to testify in multiple criminal trials when the sexual assaults occurred in different jurisdictions. Prosecutors can now charge all sexual assault charges involving a child victim in one trial. Previously, prosecutors were limited in prosecuting only the child sexual assaults that occurred in their jurisdiction, but not in other parts of the state.
One witness who testified during the hearing on this bill had been the victim of sex trafficking. She recounted her traumatic experience of being repeatedly assaulted as a child and the lasting effects of this trauma. This testimony, although painful, was incredibly valuable, as it demonstrated how traumatic each retelling of the assaults can be to the victim – even after so many years.
These victims – these children – do not need to be re-victimized by testifying in multiple trials. They need to know that they have advocates in their corner and can go to sleep at night no longer dreading having to retell their story over and over in court. Instead, they can move on with healing from their ordeal.
There is much more to be done. I and my colleagues will continue to work to fight the evils of human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me, I always enjoy hearing from my constituents.