Wednesday House Whip Edward Lindsey introduced HB200 to fight human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. I was proud to co-sponsor this legislation.
For people charged with human trafficking, the bill would prohibit such defenses as relation by blood or marriage (for parents exploiting their own children, or men pimping their own wives). It also bars such defenses as “I didn’t know she was 15 years old…she looked 20 to me!” or “Hey, she’s been a prostitute before.”
Penalties for human traffickers would also be significantly beefed up, with the possibility of life in prison if the victim was under 18, and new fines of up to $100,000. What’s more, the state could seize any real or personal property that a trafficker used for, or bought with the proceeds of, the crime.
In a nod to the fact that many trafficking victims in Georgia come from other countries, the bill’s definition of “coercion” includes threats to destroy victims’ passports or turn them into immigration authorities.
As for sexual exploitation, the bill would block charges for anyone forced to commit sex crimes, including prostitution, against his or her will.
Georgia’s new attorney general, Sam Olens, had members of his staff work with Lindsey on the bill’s language as part of a broader effort to help lawmakers draft legislation that is more legally sound (and defensible in court).
HB200 has been assigned to the Judiciary Non-Civil committee.