Arbitrary treatment of sex trafficking victims accompanies broad definition of sex trafficking.


The State Troopers have two recent sex trafficking cases – notably neither were investigated by the Special Crimes Investigation Unit and in both cases Troopers were able to investigate without contacting the victims via the fraudulent pretext of a prostitution sting.  We hope the Special Crimes Investigation Unit, tasked with rescuing sex trafficked children at a cost to Alaska of $578,239 per year, will take note and cease prostitution stings under the guise of rescuing victims (in the 25 months and over 1 million dollars of their existence, they have yet to charge anyone with trafficking a minor).

The first case happened in Wasilla: Troopers responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle and discovered that prostitution had allegedly occurred.  They arrested the sex worker and charged her with prostitution.  They arrested the customer and charged him with soliciting prostitution.  They arrested the sex worker’s roommate, who she had given money to for the electric bill, and charged him with sex trafficking.  The sex worker/victim’s name was included in all the charging documents and in news articles about the case.  Like so many other Alaskans, she will most likely now face stigma and discrimination in housing and employment that will negatively impact her employment opportunities outside of the underground economy. (Charging documents here.)

The second case happened in Fairbanks: Fairbanks PD responded to a report of an overdue rental car.  Upon discovering men, drugs, money, and cell phones, they called the Drug Enforcement Unit at the State Troopers.  The officers became concerned about women who were known to be with the men and went to a hotel room where they found a woman who reported that she was being beaten and robbed by one of the men who took all of her earnings, gave her drugs, and was so violent that she was afraid to leave him.  She was not charged with prostitution.  In charging documents she was referred to by her initials (which we’ve redacted in the linked charging document to make her less recognizable) and newspapers didn’t name her either.  (Charging documents here.)

While Alaska state law doesn’t distinguish between these two situation, Alaska State Troopers do: in one case the police arbitrarily decided that somebody was a victim and therefore deserving of having their privacy protected.  In the other case the police arbitrarily decided that the sex trafficking victim was not deserving of having their privacy protected.  Was it the age difference that led officers to protect the identity of and not charge the younger worker?

There’s arbitrary enforcement of laws and arbitrary treatment of people who are in the sex trade whether by choice, circumstance, or coercion.  Everybody should have their privacy protected.  Everybody should have their rights protected.

Arbitrary policy leads to corruption in enforcement.  Arbitrary vice laws have been called seeds of police corruption.

We need clear policy to guide the state in respecting the rights of crime victims.