Sex Trafficking

Sexual Abuse TN

Memphis Sex Trafficking Attorneys

Compassionate attorneys protecting sex trafficking victims in Memphis, Jackson, and West Tennessee

When most people think of sex trafficking, they assume it happens in places they’ll never visit, and to people they’ll never know. That’s the misconception of sex trafficking; that it doesn’t happen here. Unfortunately for victims of this horrific crime, it happens all over the United States.

At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, we stand up to traffickers and fight to protect the rights and futures of survivors. We help sex trafficking victims secure the compensation they need to rebuild their lives by holding individuals and organizations accountable for their crimes. If you or someone you love has been a victim of sex trafficking, our attorneys in Memphis and Jackson are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team.

What is sex trafficking, exactly?

Sex trafficking involves forcing children and adults – both male and female – to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. Often, it involves the act of transporting victims across state or national lines. Victims of sex trafficking do not willingly engage in commercial sex acts, and many organizations refer to sex trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery.

Sex trafficking Tennessee

Between January 1 and June 30, 2019, there were 93 reported cases of human trafficking in Tennessee, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH). Of those cases, 63 involved sex trafficking. Victims were overwhelmingly female (73) and mostly adults (51).

How sex traffickers choose their victims

While it does happen, few trafficking victims are kidnapped. The vast majority are vulnerable children or adults who have been manipulated into being trafficked. Often, by the time they understand what’s happened, they’re unable to safely get out of the situation. The trafficker might act as a parental figure by behaving like a protector, or could treat the victim as a romantic partner to create an emotional bond. They may use coercion, violence, threats, or drugs to control their victims.

How targets are chosen to become prey to sex traffickers can vary depending upon the circumstances. Some of the ways vulnerable children and adults are trapped into this abusive and violent life include the following:

  • Coming from impoverished areas or experiencing family economic strain
  • Coming from families with a history of engaging in commercial sex
  • Growing up in homes rife with sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or domestic violence
  • Growing up with parental neglect or growing up in multiple foster homes
  • Running away from home and having to depend on strangers for survival
  • Being taught to have low self-esteem or self-worth

Sex traffickers build themselves up as saviors to the individuals they target. The key to their success is building enough trust that the victim can be easily manipulated either through feelings of guilt or indebtedness.

Recognize the signs of sex trafficking in West Tennessee

Appearances can be deceiving. Trafficking victims can be coerced by individuals or organized crime groups. Despite looking like legitimate businesses, sex trafficking rings can be operated out of massage parlors, nail salons, motels and hotels, night clubs, or other seemingly innocent service industry businesses. Even high profile sporting events like the super bowl create opportunities for traffickers to make money.

Behavior that could indicate sex trafficking includes the following:

  • Someone never being seen alone when he/she leaves the residence or motel/hotel room
  • Minors loitering during the daytime or late at night when they should be home or in school
  • Appearing to have an older, controlling romantic partner
  • Extensive home security that seems geared more toward maintaining privacy
  • Anxious, depressed, submissive, or paranoid behavior
  • Always appearing to be high on drugs or alcohol
  • Being unable to give basic background or contact information
  • Observing a pattern of frequent drop offs and pick-ups of individuals at hotels by the same vehicle

Sex traffickers in Memphis can face criminal and civil penalties

Officials and law enforcement across Tennessee have recognized that sex trafficking is an epidemic. Agencies are working hard to prevent more citizens, including in Memphis and Jackson, from becoming victims, and to stop the criminals who are causing so much harm. In fact, Tennessee has earned the highest mark in the nation for its response to human trafficking, which includes creating laws and survivor services. That’s good news for victims who wish to hold their abusers accountable for the physical and psychological damage they have suffered.

Sex traffickers may face both state and federal charges:

State laws

  • HB 488/SB 575 allows seizure of real and personal property in human trafficking offenses.
  • PC 613 is a civil right of action for victims of human trafficking. This gives you the right to file a civil claim against traffickers.
  • HB 358/SB 1038 expands the definition of “racketeering activity” of organized crime to include all activities related to sex trafficking, including paying for sex with victims.
  • HB 128/SB 1035 requires a defendant to pay you restitution whether he or she paid for sex or sold you to customers.
  • PC979 increases penalties for traffickers who promote another person for prostitution, which is punishable as a Class E felony and requires registration as a sex offender.
  • SB193 helps survivors of domestic violence, rape, human trafficking, stalking and other crimes who have relocated or are about to relocate prevent their abusers from finding them.

Federal laws

Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 established methods of prosecuting traffickers and protecting victims and survivors of trafficking, which includes issuing a T-Visa for undocumented victims who may remain in the country temporarily and become citizens in three years. The act also requires that restitution be paid to victims of human trafficking.

The Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act allows the federal government to prosecute members of organized crime for racketeering offenses, which includes human trafficking offenses.

You can file a lawsuit in civil court to seek damages if you are a sex trafficking victim

Aside from criminal penalties, those accused of sex trafficking can also be held liable in civil court. As a survivor, you have the right to make a claim for damages for your:

  • Medical expenses and bills, including counseling and therapy
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Emotional distress
  • Punitive damages

You have the right to file this lawsuit regardless of the outcome in criminal court. Even if the criminal case is dismissed, or the accused is found “not guilty,” you can still proceed with a civil claim. The most famous example involved OJ Simpson, who was found “not guilty” of murder but held liable in civil court for the wrongful death of his wife.

Who is liable in a civil lawsuit for sex trafficking?

The person, persons, or organization which trafficked the victim can be held liable, as can any individuals who paid for sexual activities with the victim.

However, sex trafficking is rarely a one-man show. Most traffickers had a network of associates who either assisted them outright or ignored all the signs. This network can include owners/operators of:

  • Hotels, motels, and other commercial properties, such as truck stops
  • Transportation companies such as bus and taxi companies
  • Residential homeowners who allowed the traffickers to work out of their homes

In short, anyone who contributed to the sex trafficking organization can be held liable in civil court.

At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, we understand that cases like these must be treated with care and discretion, but we also believe in treating our clients with respect and dignity. For decades, we have been the firm that Memphis injury clients turn to in their time of need. If you are ready to seek justice from your sexual abusers, we are here to help.

Bailey & Greer, PLLC, stands ready to seek justice for sex trafficking victims in West Tennessee

Any individual or business enterprise that financially benefits from sex trafficking, or is aware that the illegal activity is taking place, can be held liable for their actions. Let the injury lawyers at Bailey & Greer, PLLC, help. If you have been the victim of sex trafficking, we urge you to schedule a free, confidential consultation in our Memphis or Jackson office by calling 901-475-7434. We also invite you to reach out to us for help through our contact form. If you wish to work with a female attorney, we can accommodate you.