Officials target trafficking loopholes

The proposed bill would be an anti-stimulus for the city's red-light zones.

A state senator said Friday he hopes to

fast-track legislation that would make it easier for police and prosecutors to

crack down on human trafficking in advance of the 2012 Super Bowl, which is

expected to attract more prostitution to Indianapolis.

Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, said Friday he

would introduce legislation aimed at closing loopholes that have allowed some

parts of the sex trade to go unprosecuted. Gov. Mitch Daniels, Attorney General

Greg Zoeller and other officials joined him for the

announcement, which comes just seven weeks before the NFL championship is to be

held in Indianapolis.

State attorneys general have reported an influx

of human trafficking has occurred in other cities that have hosted Super Bowls

and other large sporting events. Officials are particularly concerned about

under-age prostitution.

"We must be realistic and candid about the

fact that organized criminals who exploit young women and children through

human trafficking have gravitated to such gatherings in other cities," Zoeller said in a statement. "Recognizing that

Indiana's existing statute is inadequate to this new threat and should be

updated to close loopholes, we make this extraordinary request to the General

Assembly to pass Sen. Head's bill within the short window before the Super


Head said Indiana's laws are tougher than most

states when it comes to human trafficking. But he said the state still earned a

D grade from Shared Hope International, a leading sexual-trafficking awareness


"I am determined to help us change that

during the upcoming legislative session," Head said.

The above is one of an ongoing series of reports from the

Statehouse File by students at the Franklin College Pulliam School of


Editor's Note:

NUVO followed up with Zoeller's office asking for

more specifics on the particular loopholes that exist in current law. Public

Information Officer Bryan Corbin kindly sent us the following response:

The bill that

Attorney General Greg Zoeller recommended that

Senator Randy Head has introduced in the Legislature would update the existing

law in three main ways:

- First, the existing statute makes it a

crime for a "parent, guardian or custodian" to sell or transfer a child for

purposes of prostitution or sexual conduct. Since trafficking typically is

committed by criminals who are unrelated to their victims, the statute needs to

be broadened to cover any person who victimizes a child in this way, not just a

parent or guardian; and the bill clarifies the wording to do that.

- Second, the bill would define the

crime of "promotion of human trafficking of a minor" so that prosecutors would

not have to prove "force or threat of force" against a child as an element of

the crime committed in order to obtain a conviction for that crime.

- Third, it

defines "promotion of human trafficking of a minor" to encompass both engaging

a child under 16 in forced labor and/or involuntary servitude, as well as

causing the child to engage in prostitution or participate in sexual

conduct.(The larger issue of

human trafficking involves more than sex trafficking, it also involves victims —

sometimes people in other countries — who are lured with promises of

escape from poverty and offers of jobs that turn out instead to be forms of

forced labor or exploitation.)

The legislation

would also make other technical changes to the existing statute.

The bill is

scheduled for a Senate committee hearing Jan. 4.