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Taking South Carolina to Task

January 31, 2015
South Carolina citizen advocates and legislators

South Carolina citizen advocates and legislators

South Carolina is fortunate to have a progressive anti-human trafficking law, thanks to the hard work of advocates, legislators, victim-survivors, and experts in the field. The law is comprehensive, and more laws are being introduced into this Session to fill a few gaps, such as a Safe Harbor Act. Unfortunately, very little has been done to enforce the law. For example, State law mandates training of law enforcement and prosecutors. Such consistent training and education has yet to be implemented. State law requires the collection, monitoring and web site / public posting of statistics. That has yet to be implemented. Yet every article and clause of our State law on human trafficking can be implemented, from the time it became effective on 18 December 2012.

I met with AG Wilson soon after SC Act 258-Human Trafficking was passed, and again, just before he held the news conference in June announcing the Human Trafficking Task Force report. I came away from both meetings extremely disappointed.

One concern I’ve expressed to him is the lack of cultural diversity on his Human Trafficking Task force.  He refused to include individuals from the Hispanic and African-American communities to serve, nor has he included a representative from the SC Commission for Minority Affairs. The three communities protected by that Commission are the ones most affected by human trafficking nationally, with Native American Indians at the top of the list.

Human trafficking is a crime of horrific violence; it is also a matter of national security. It feeds the coffers of terrorist groups. One would think that this alone would peak the Attorney General’s interest and care.

The first publicly announced case of human trafficking under the State law was actually the one in Spartanburg a few months ago. That case has been turned over to USAG Nettles’ office, and it is now buried. Another clear example of human trafficking in South Carolina is the labor trafficking Cathedral Bible College and Wayne Miller case. Miller recruited students from other countries and forced them to work under threat of deportation. This case was also handed over to federal authorities. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

I am thankful that the recent sex trafficking ring case in Richland County broke open. Three girls, ages 15, 13, and 10, were abused by the perpetrators that Sheriff Lott described as “monsters.” Yet four of the five men involved have been released. My colleagues and I are calling for Solicitor Johnson and the Court to keep these men detained until trial, and to investigate the backgrounds of these men. There is more to this story, and we should not see it as a “sex ring” but a case of full blown child sex trafficking.

Why is it that human trafficking in South Carolina is still being hidden, ignored, discounted, avoided?  Maybe. by Sheriff Wright and Sheriff Lott taking their cases public, they will help to  break through whatever barrier exists; yet it must start at the top. For us, that is SCAG Wilson. We can no longer say: human trafficking doesn’t exist in South Carolina. It does. And we must end it.

Thank you.
Betty Houbion

Independent Advocate

SC Act 258-Human Trafficking

South Carolina

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From → Legislation

5 Comments
  1. karen shylocl permalink

    My daughter, Kristen Crosby has been missing since July of this year. Just vanished into thin air. The police dept. In Moncks Corner SC are doing nothing. In my heart I believe she is being held against her will somewhere in Holly Hill sc. My daughter has a drug dependency with pain meds. And I believe she is being held and sold. I don’t know which way to go. Please help or family. Kristen is 26 and has a beautiful little girl , Gracie that needs her.

  2. Lynn Sweetland permalink

    I am a survivor of sex trafficking that occurred in SC in 1994 and law enforcement would not listen to me then. I was hoping to move to SC and help train in these matters as I am now a paid consultant to the DOJ/OVC Survivor federal forums. It is a travesty to continue to re-victimize these victims and humanize the criminals, placing more value on their lives and destroying those victims and their families. I believe all survivors who have their voice needs to go before legislature and put a foot up their^^%&

  3. Betty Houbion permalink

    I apologize profusely for the delay in responding. I didn’t see your comment until now. Is this from 2015? Regardless, Karen, please, if your daughter is still missing, please make sure that your Police Department has placed her on the national missing person database, and that they have a flyer which we may distribute, and for you, please register with CUE Center for the Missing at http://www.ncmissingpersons.org I really hope that your daughter has been found already and found safe. Ask your PD what kept them from issuing a SIlver Alert: not just for senior citizens but also for those missing adults in need of medicine or medical care.

  4. Betty Houbion permalink

    Hello Lynn: Please contact me at my email at bhoubion@yahoo.com , with your contact information. Let’s talk.

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