Thursday, June 3, 2010

House Bill 493 - Human Trafficking

An Action Alert from:

The Ohio House of Representatives is now considering important legislation to combat human trafficking. Please join us intaking action to support HB493 to criminalize human trafficking and punish criminals who exploit others for profit in Ohio.

Ohio is one of only five states without human trafficking laws!Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person to provide labor, services, or commercial sex against their will. It is a form of modern-day slavery, and it affects both foreign nationals and American citizens. The federal government has estimated that 14,500-17,500 foreign nationals are brought into the United States every year for the purpose of exploitation either for sex or for labor. Experts estimate that 100,000 American children are victims of prostitution each year. All of these people are victims of human trafficking.

Human Trafficking in Ohio
A recent study released by the Ohio Attorney General Trafficking in Persons Research Commission estimates that there are more than 750 foreign national human trafficking victims who are brought to Ohio for forced labor or commercial sex. The study also estimates that more than 1, 000 American children between the ages of 12-17 become human trafficking victims for the purpose of commercial sex in Ohio every year.

Ohio is a transit, destination, and source state for human trafficking victims.

Two recent cases highlight the fact that human trafficking exists in Ohio. In December 2009, Alan Townsend pled guilty to federal child sex trafficking charges after luring a 14 year old with promises of a modeling career. Townsend transported the minor from Ohio to Florida where he intended to prostitute her for profit. Townsend faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years to life in prison. Also in December 2009, two Ohio men, Robert Harris and Richard Johnson, pled guilty to sex trafficking by force and other prostitution-related crimes after transporting women and children, including a 16- year-old victim from Ohio, to Maryland for the purpose of prostitution. The two men were sentenced to 15 years in prison a piece. A third Ohio man in the case, Craig Allen Corey II—a private first class in the Army—recently pled guilty and was sentenced 17 years in prison.

HB493: To Amend Sections of the Revised Code Relative to Trafficking in Persons
Representative Kathleen Chandler introduced HB493 to create a new felony offense of human trafficking—allowing prosecutors to target traffickers with a stronger law, instead of stitching together other crimes in order to punish them.

HB493 also:

  • Increases penalty of compelling prostitution of minors under 16 to a first degree felony
  • Requires that child victims receive appropriate services
  • Requires the posting of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (hotline)
  • Requires training of law enforcement

Click here for more provisions in HB493
HB493 has bipartisan co-sponsorship from 22 representatives: Williams, B., Pillich, Newcomb, Lehner, Driehaus, Harris, Letson, Hagan, Lundy, Skindell, Foley, Yuko, Fende, Winburn, Stewart, DeGeeter, Garland, Derickson, Harwood, Brown, Pryor, Mallory. HB493 is a step in the right direction toward comprehensively addressing human trafficking in Ohio. HB493 will make it clear that modern-day slavery will not be tolerated in Ohio.


  1. Please take a moment to call your Representative’s office and urge them to support and vote YES on HB493. If your representative is on the Criminal Justice Committee, your call is even more critical! Here is an example of what you can say, but please personalize your message:

    “Hi, my name is [ ], and I am a constituent living at [ ]. I am calling to urge [ ] to vote YES on anti-human trafficking legislation. HB493 will criminalize trafficking in persons as a 2nd degree felony and define involuntary servitude in order to comprehensively combat human trafficking in Ohio. Ohio should join the federal government and 44 other states to address this serious human rights violation. Will the Representative support this important legislation?”
  2. After you make your call, please follow up with an email - just click here! Be sure to personalize your message for the greatest impact, state your message of what you would like them to do, and thank them for their time.
  3. Please take a moment to contact Chairman Timothy J. DeGeeter of the Criminal Justice Committee. Chairman DeGeeter is able to decide whether HB493 will advance, so please make a quick call to urge him to support HB493.
  4. Please urge everyone you know to contact their Representatives and ask them to vote yes on this important human trafficking legislation.

If you should have any questions or have heard back from your senators about these bills, please email Kathleen Davis at
Thank you for taking action to end human trafficking in Ohio!

Links to Reports:

Polaris Project Ohio Report

Ohio Attorney General Trafficking in Persons Research Commission Report

The Rand Report

Columbus Dispatch Article

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