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    Yesterday, the Assembly in Albany met and voted on the Women's Equality Act of 2013 (A.8070)

    One of the points in the 10 point agenda was to

    Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws

    While there are comprehensive laws in place that address human trafficking, thousands of young girls and women still fall victim to sex and labor traffickers each year. The Women's Equality Act includes multiple initiatives that will hold sex and labor traffickers accountable for their crimes and strengthen trafficking prosecutions in the state.

    Assemblywoman Amy Paulin said, "Every day thousands of vulnerable women and children are trafficked and horrifically exploited, and instead of being protected, these victims are often treated as criminals. We must do everything in our power as legislators to make sure that sex and labor traffickers pay for their crimes and that the victims of such terrible acts are protected, supported and able to move forward with their lives."

    By creating the "Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act," the legislation strengthens New York's existing human trafficking laws by:

    increasing the penalties for sex and labor human trafficking;

    escalating penalties for promoting prostitution and patronizing minors for prostitution;

    extending the inter-agency task force on human trafficking;

    requiring human-trafficking training for law enforcement;

    creating a civil right of action for victims of human trafficking to sue their perpetrators in civil court for damages; and

    establishing an affirmative defense in prostitution prosecutions if the defendant was herself a sex-trafficking victim.

    Additionally, the Women's Equality Act expand opportunities for victims of human trafficking to be referred for services by allowing certain providers to directly refer trafficking victims to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and the Department of Criminal Justice Services for human trafficking-related services.
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    This is the problem in changing the law with regards to human rights ... it has so many steps to take.....





    91st DISTRICT

    July 2, 2013

    Dear [redacted],

    Thank you for your letter in support of A.2240/S2135, the “Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act”.

    I strongly support legislative efforts to combat human trafficking and co-sponsor A2240, which would increase criminal penalties, while clarifying and strengthening New York’s laws on human trafficking. This kind of exploitation and abuse must be addressed in an aggressive manner. A.2240 improves upon New York’s existing laws in important ways. It is imperative that more stringent and effective laws be passed to protect children from being victimized by prostitution.

    Agreement between the houses was not reached on A2240 in this session, but there was other positive action on human trafficking legislation. A8071/S5839 addresses some of the criminal justice issues facing 16 and 17 year old victims of human trafficking. This legislation passed both houses and will now be considered by the Governor.

    In addition, A8070, the Women’s Equality Act, passed the Assembly on June 20th. This legislation, which I co-sponsor, includes very strong provisions surrounding human trafficking. While this comprehensive legislation was not taken up by the Senate, I am hopeful the Senate will approve this bill in the future or that some common ground can be reached between the houses on women’s equality.

    Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts with me on this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me on this or any other matter where I can be of assistance.


    Steven Otis

    State Assemblyman
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    Written by Karen Wigle Weiss for ECPAT USA, April 2013

    Safe Harbor Laws

    A handful of states have enacted statutes commonly called Safe Harbor Laws. These laws address the question of how a minor who engages in prostitution or related acts will be treated when the minor comes to the attention of the authorities. But even those states that have not enacted a statute bearing the title Safe Harbor Law have laws that address this issue. The statutory schemes vary -- ranging from subsections within a more comprehensive anti-human trafficking statute to scatter-shot amendments to many existing statutes. Regardless of the statutory title or scheme, the laws address, to a greater or lesser degree, three ways of helping child sex trafficking victims.

    1) Diversion

    -- treating trafficked individuals as victims, not criminals, and thereby protecting them from criminal prosecution, criminal records and criminal penalties. The laws provide varying approaches to deal with minors who have been arrested for prostitution in a civil or family court setting. States have attached different labels to the non-criminal proceedings, such as person in need of supervision (PINS), dependent child proceedings or abused child adjudication. Some states continue to permit adult criminal prosecution or juvenile delinquency proceedings despite the availability of non-criminal options.

    2) Services

    -- providing safe housing and appropriate services, such as, counseling, medical treatment, education, drug treatment, and employment training; as well as legal avenues to seek monetary compensation in the form of restitution or a civil right of action; notice to victims of the available assistance and remedies; assistance to non-citizens with their immigration status.

    3) Protection

    -- protection of the identity and personal information of the victims; and court proceeding protections such as the ability to testify via closed circuit television, limitation on cross-examination of the victim concerning past sexual behavior, and prohibition of a defense based on consent.


    New York enacted the first safe harbor law in the nation, Title 8-A Safe Harbour [sic] for Exploited Children Act, in 2008, but its effective date was postponed until April 1, 2010. The law amended and augmented two New York statutes: the Family Court Act and the Social Services Law.

    This article shows that there are still serious shortcomings in New York’s protection of sexually exploited children. Although New York’s Safe Harbour Law designates 18 as the cut-off age for minors and allows for anyone under 18 who is suspected in engaging in prostitution to be diverted to the Family Court, the Penal Law still allows criminal prosecution of anyone 16 years old or older to be prosecuted in the criminal courts as an adult. With respect to the provision of services to victims the law’s shortcoming is funding. The statute includes a laundry list of important services, but with respect to many, refrains from imposing a mandate that they be provided. Instead, the law amounts to little more than a suggestion that services be provided if funding is available.


    The statutory changes permit diversion of minors, defined as under 18 years old, suspected of engaging in prostitution, from the Criminal Courts to the Family Courts. But New York law still permits the criminal prosecution of anyone over 16 for any offense, including prostitution. The Penal Code provision defining prostitutioni does not include a minimum age requirement and it designates 16 as the age of adult criminal responsibility. Thus, New York law is inconsistent in its treatment of minors detained for prostitution in that it is left to the discretion of the arresting or charging agency as to whether Criminal or Family Court proceedings will be commenced upon the detention of a 16- or 17-year-old child for prostitution.

    New York’s Safe Harbour Law provides that acts of prostitution committed by persons under 18 years of age may be addressed in the Family Court, instead of the Criminal Court, by the filing of a petition to have the minor declared a Person in Need of Supervisionii, in lieu of a criminal accusatory instrument. The definition of a person in need of supervision (PINS) includes anyone under the age of 18 who violates the prostitution lawiii or “who appears to be a sexually exploited.”iv A sexually exploited child is anyone under the age of 18 who has been the victim of sex traffickingv or has engaged in an act of prostitution or has been found loitering for the purpose of prostitution, or has been the victim of the crime of compelling prostitution, or has been used in a sexual

    Significantly, the Family Court PINS route may only be pursued if the child consents to the filing of a petition.vii The law does not include any mechanism to override the minor’s refusal to consent to substituting a PINS petition for a criminal or juvenile delinquency proceeding.

    Similarly, minors under the age of 16 detained on a charge of prostitution can avoid juvenile delinquency proceedings by requesting substitution of a PINS petition for a juvenile delinquency proceeding.viii In any juvenile delinquency proceeding based upon an arrest for prostitution, “there is a presumption that the respondent [juvenile] meets the criteria as a victim of a severe form of trafficking as defined in ... [the federal] Trafficking Victim Protection Act of 2000.” ix Based on this presumption, the juvenile can force the substitution of a PINS proceeding, even without the consent of the agency that brought the proceeding. The statute, however, permits the continuation of the delinquency proceedings, at the court’s discretion, in two instances: 1) if the respondent has previously been adjudicated a delinquent based on a prostitution arrest or 2) if the juvenile is unwilling to cooperate with the services for sexually exploited youths. Once again, the law does not include any mechanism to overcome the juvenile’s refusal to consent or cooperate, even where that failure is the result of the influence of a trafficker.

    In addition, if a parent, guardian or custodian can by identified as permitting or encouraging the detained minor to engage in prostitution, the minor can be treated as an abused child and avoid contact with the criminal or juvenile courts. The definition of an abused child was broadened to include a child under the age of 18 whose parent, guardian, custodian,x or “any other person responsible for the child’s care” encourages or allows commission of prostitution-related crimes, or a sexual performance.xi

    New York law also provides a mechanism to remedy past instances of victims having been treated as criminal defendants. In 2010 the Legislature amendedxii the law to provide ameliorative relief to previously-convicted sex-trafficking victims. The amendment added a new ground for vacating a judgment of conviction for prostitution or loitering for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. Someone who was convicted of either of those crimes, at any time, may return to the court where the conviction was entered to vacate it on the ground that the person’s participation in the crime was as a result of being a victim of sex trafficking, as defined in New York Penal Law § 230.34 or human trafficking, as defined in 22 U.S.C. § 78.

    If an arrest resulted in a juvenile delinquency adjudication, the respondent- juvenile can request the court to seal the records.xiii

    The law permits such a motion after the respondent reaches the age of 16 and if the court finds that sealing it would promote the interest of justice.xiv


    New York’s Safe Harbour Act broadens the definition of a sexually exploited child to include anyone under the age of 18 who has been the victim of sex trafficking,xv or has been abused,xvi or has engaged in prostitutionxvii or loitering for the purpose of prostitution,xviii or is a victim of the crimes of compelling prostitutionxix or sexual performance by a child.xx The impact of the broadened definition is increased provision of services.

    The law delineates the services, such as housing, medical care, and counseling, that should be provided for sexually exploited children. The law mandates provision of certain services, but allows others services to be provided only as funding permits.xxi The statute mandates social services districts to “address the child welfare services needs of sexually exploited children”xxii and to include their need for such services in an annual county plan.xxiii

    It also requires the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to contract with a not-for-profit agency with experience working with sexually exploited children to operate at least one safe house “in a geographically appropriate area” and provide “secure long term housing and specialized services for sexually exploited children.”xxiv The law mandates that such a safe house be available as a placement upon final disposition of a PINS petition for a sexually exploited child.xxv

    Service providers are allowed to utilize pre-existing crisis intervention services and homeless youth facilities to house sex trafficking victims.xxvi “To the extent that funds are available,” it tasks the service districts with establishing programs appropriate to address the “separate and distinct service needs according to gender” of sexually exploited youths.xxvii The law also provides that “to the extent funds are available” the local social services commissioner should arrange for training of law enforcement on how to identify and obtain appropriate services for sexually exploited children.xxviii

    The New York Safe Harbour Law does not address the issue of financial compensation for victims -- either in the form of a civil cause of action or as restitution imposed on the trafficker as part of the a sentencing in a criminal proceeding. But the issue of financial compensation is covered by other provisions of New York law. The Penal Lawxxix provides that, upon disposition of a criminal case, courts “shall consider restitution or reparation to the victim of the crime and may require restitution or reparation as part of the sentence . . . .” In so doing, “the court must make a finding as to the dollar amount of the fruits of the offense and the actual out-of-pocket loss to the victim caused by the offense.”xxx

    With respect to a civil action for damages, victims can proceed under the Rules of Civil Procedure and the Executive Law xxxi

    which provides that “any crime victim shall have the right to bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction to recover money damages from a person convicted of a crime of which the crime victim is a victim . . . within three years of the discovery of any profits from a crime or funds of a convicted person.” A victim of a criminal offense has seven years to commence an action arising under a conviction for a crime generally, and ten years if the criminal conviction is for a class B felony, which includes sex trafficking, or a violent crime.xxxii


    In the event that a sexually exploited child is subjected to juvenile delinquency proceedings, the law permits the court, upon the initial court appearance, to direct that

    the child be housed in a short-term safe house, rather than juvenile detention.xxxiii Indeed, the law contains a strong preference for safe house accommodations. It requires Family Court Judges to place sexually exploited juveniles in safe houses unless there is an articulable basis to believe that detention is necessary to ensure that the child will appear in court.

    The Act does not address issues related to court proceedings but New York laws that address the concern of protecting children and sex crime victims can, in some instances, be relied upon to protect sexually exploited children called upon to testify against their traffickers. For example, the Penal Lawxxxiv provides that a person less than 17 years old is incapable of consenting to any sex act defined in Article 130 of the Penal law, which includes all types of sexual contact. Notably, the incapable- of-consent rule is not expressly limited to prosecutions for crimes defined in Article 130. Instead, it is phrased in term of the sex acts mentioned in that Article. Therefore, although the crime of sex trafficking appears in Article 230, rather than 130, the incapable-of-consent rule would likely preclude a defense based on a claim that the minor consented to the acts committed. The protection provided by the inability-to-consent rule is limited because the rule is phrased to apply to only those minors who are less than 17 years old.

    The issue of the permissive scope of cross-examination of a victim of sexual exploitation is similarly unaddressed. New York’s Rape Shield Lawxxxv limits the admissibility of evidence of a victim’s past sexual conduct. But, that section specifically limits the shield rule to prosecutions for offenses defined in Article 130 (Sex Crimes). Thus, the general rules of evidence would apply and such evidence could be admitted if the relevance of past sexual conduct is established. Moreover, even when an Article 130 crime is charged, the law permits admission of evidence that the victim was convicted of the crime of prostitution within the three years preceding the sex offense that is the subject of the prosecution.xxxvi

    Furthermore, the use of closed circuit television in lieu of in-court testimony is unavailable in a prosecution for sex trafficking because that procedure is limited to children under the age of fifteen and to prosecutions for sex crimes, defined in Article 130 and section 255 (incest) of the Penal Law.xxxvii New York law does, however, contain a general provision about the treatment of child witnesses. Executive Law section 642-a (Fair Treatment of Child Victims as Witnesses) sets up guidelines for all agencies that deal with child victims, as well as for the courts. The guidelines dictate that the number of times a child is called upon to recite the events of a case should be minimized as should any delay in the proceedings that would add to the child’s stress.xxxviii The law directs judges to be sensitive to the psychological and emotional stress a child may suffer when testifying. xxxix

    iPenal Code section 230.00,
    iiArticle 7 of the Family Court Act,
    iiiSection 230 of the Penal Law ivFamily Court Act section 712[a].
    vPenal Law section 230.34 viSocial Services Law section 447-a [1][a] through [d] viiFamily Court Act section 712[a] viiiFamily Court Act section 311.4
    ixFamily Court Act section 311.4[3]
    xA custodian is defined to include “any person continually or at regular intervals found in the same household as the child.”
    xiFamily Court Act section 1012 [e][iii]
    xiiSection 440.10 (1)of New York’s Criminal Procedure Law xiiiFamily Court Act section 375.2).
    xivFamily Court Act section 375.2 [1], [4]
    xvAs defined in section 230.34 of the Penal Law
    xviAs defined in section 1012 (e)(iii) of the Family Court Act
    xviiPenal Law § 230.00
    xviiiPenal Law § 230.47
    xixPenal Law § 230.33
    xxPenal Law Article 263; Social Services Law section 447-a
    xxiSocial Services Law section 447-b.
    xxiiSection 447-b[1]
    xxiiiSection 447-b[3]
    xxivSection 447-b[5]
    xxvSection 447-a[4]
    xxviSection 447-b[1]
    xxviiSection 447-b[4)
    xxviiiSection 447-b[6]
    xxixSection 60.27(1)
    xxxPenal Law section 60.27[2]
    xxxiSection 632-a (3) of the Executive Law (Crime Victims)
    xxxiiCivil Procedure Law and Rules section 213-b
    xxxiiiFamily Court Act section 739[a]
    xxxivSection 130.05(3)(a)
    xxxvSection 60.42 of the Criminal Procedure Law
    xxxviCriminal Procedure Law section 60.42[3]
    xxxviiCriminal Procedure Law Article 65
    xxxviiiExecutive Law section 642-a [1], [3]
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    National Human Trafficking Resource Center

    Call 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733). The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls and texts from anywhere in the country,
    24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.

    The NHTRC is a program of Polaris Project, a non-profit, non-governmental organization working exclusively on the issue of human trafficking. We are not a government entity, law enforcement or an immigration authority.

    Call us at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733).

    To report a tip;
    To connect with anti-trafficking services in your area; or,
    To request training and technical assistance, general information or specific anti-trafficking resources.
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    Tuesday, May 13 is Lobby Day at the State Capitol in Albany.
    Hundreds of thousands of advocates for commercially sexually exploited children will be lobbying the law makers to change the law in the

    Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act to be punishing johns for soliciting children, enabling police to use wiretaps, eliminate the word "prostitute" from the vocabulary and change it to "one who has been prostituted" are some of the changes we wish to have happen in the law.

    PRESS CONFERENCE is at 10:00am in Albany.
    If you have free time from 10am to 3pm - come to Albany and make a difference in the lives of children who have been commercially sexually exploited and let's make the users who purchase children for sex - pay for it with prison time!!!!

    This year's Lobby Day will play a critical role in our efforts to see theWomen's Equality Act (WEA) and the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA) passed in New York State. The TVPJA contains provisions that will make a difference for survivors of sex trafficking in New York, including:
    Eliminating the stigmatizing use of the word "prostitute" in Penal Law

    Enabling law enforcement to use wiretap provisions that would strengthen cases against sex traffickers

    Recognizing that buying children for sex is child abuse

    Defending trafficked people from criminal prosecution

    Strengthening penalties for sex traffickers

    As constituents, you all have considerable power to inform our representatives in Albany about the importance of passing the WEA and the TVPJA.

    We hope you will join us for this day of advocacy at the Capitol. Thank you for your support!
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    It is urgent that we pass this important legislation now. As a survivor of sex trafficking,
    I can attest to the fact that traffickers and sex buyers inflict severe trauma and pain which has long lasting
    effects on the victim’s life. In NY, we need to bring to accountability those who do the exploiting,
    so that others do not have to go through the nightmare I lived.
    Iryna Makaruk, Survivor

    The Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA) is is proposed New York State legislation (A.2240D/ S.5879B) sponsored by Assembly member Amy Paulin and Senator Andrew Lanza.

    TVPJA would improve New York State’s efforts to end human trafficking by enhancing protection for trafficking victims - particularly for sexually exploited children. TVPJA increases accountability for buyers and traffickers who fuel this criminal industry and prevents re-victimization of trafficking victims by the justice system through the following measures:


    Currently, an individual convicted of buying sex from a minor receives a lower penalty than one convicted of raping a minor of the same age. This bill creates the felony sex offense of “aggravated patronizing a minor,” aligning the penalties for buying sex from a minor with those for statutory rape. Furthermore, like accused statutory rapists, those accused of engaging in sex with minors cannot avail themselves of the defense that they didn’t know the age of the child.

    Calling men who buy sex from children “johns” minimizes the harm
    they do. At the very least, they are statutory rapists and child abusers.
    Rachel Lloyd, founder of GEMS and author of Girls Like Us

    In 2010, New York amended its Criminal Procedure Law to enable sex trafficking victims to vacate prostitution convictions. This bill establishes sex trafficking as an affirmative defense to prostitution, encouraging defense counsel to investigate their clients’ experiences carefully and bring trafficking concerns to the attention of prosecutors and courts. Preemptive advocacy will contribute to New York’s efforts to protect victims and reduce trafficking, and reduce the need for post-conviction challenges.

    Prosecuting sex trafficking victims under prostitution laws intensifies
    their abuse and marginalization while empowering their exploiters.
    Ted Bunch, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of A CALL TO MEN


    In order to hold traffickers accountable, prosecutors need strong evidence that does not rely exclusively on traumatized victims’ statements. Currently, while investigating traffickers, law enforcement can obtain judicial warrants to intercept conversations only when they can establish coercion or that the victim is under sixteen-years old. This amendment would enable law enforcement to pursue wiretaps when there is probable cause to believe that a suspect owns or manages a prostitution business, operates a sex tourism business, or is pimping children under eighteen-years old.

    We must treat sex trafficking as a violent crime because the victims experience countless
    hours of sexual abuse and psychological torture. The traffickers who recruit them
    intentionally seek them out for monetary gain and exploit them with no regard for their life or well being.
    Deputy Elizabeth Fildes, Program Director of the Western District of New York,
    Human Trafficking Task Force and Alliance


    The use of the term “prostitute” is the only instance where the Penal Law identifies someone by the crime he or she has allegedly committed. This bill replaces all references in the Penal Law to “prostitute” with the phrase “person for prostitution.”

    The only instance where the Penal Law identifies someone by the crime he or she
    has allegedly committed is with “prostitute” - everyone else is
    simply a defendant, not a “robber” or “murderer.”
    It’s not only blatant gender bias, it
    unnecessarily stigmatizes trafficking victims.
    Sonia Ossorio, President, NOW New York
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    By Andrew J Lanza

    Posted by Andrew J Lanza [1] on Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

    ALBANY – Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88) and Senator Andrew J. Lanza (R-24) today hosted a press conference to promote the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA), the legislation they have championed that toughens penalties in New York against those who buy and sell young women, men and children to fuel the massive $32 billion sex trafficking industry.

    The press conference served to urge the passage of the TVPJA as well as to highlight May 13 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day in New York State.

    “The effort to bring those who engage in human trafficking to justice and raise public awareness of this heinous exploitation of vulnerable children and adults has been a long journey,” Paulin said. “Slowly, we are bringing out of the shadows the trafficking of young men, women and children.

    “By listening to these courageous survivors we begin to understand the depth and complexity of the circumstances that led to their victimization so that we can implement effective means not only to prevent human trafficking but also to eradicate it altogether, and provide victims with the critical services they need to escape from their traffickers and rebuild their lives.”

    Paulin and Lanza, outspoken in their fight to end human trafficking and sexual slavery in New York, introduced the TVPJA last year. One portion of the comprehensive bill was signed into law earlier this year. The new law allows criminal courts to treat 16- and 17- year olds charged with prostitution and loitering for purposes of prostitution as Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS) and provide those youth with specialized services. The remainder of the TVPJA passed as a stand-alone in the Senate last year and as part of the 10-Point Women’s Equality Agenda in the Assembly. Paulin hopes to have the TVPJA voted on in her house as a stand-alone.

    “Here in New York, thousands of innocent people are bought and sold like property each year,” Lanza said. “Human trafficking is a modern version of the slave trade and a devastating human rights violation that is occurring in our own backyards. It is urgent that we pass the long awaited Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act to enhance protections for trafficking victims and hold those who exploit them accountable."

    Key provisions of the TVPJA include increasing the accountability of traffickers and buyers by raising the penalty for sex trafficking to a class B violent felony, creating the felony sex offense of "aggravated patronizing a minor," and aligning the penalties for patronizing a minor with those of statutory rape. The bill will also strengthen the investigative tools to make a case against traffickers. Sex trafficking will be an affirmative defense to prostitution and the term "prostitute" will be eliminated from the Penal Law, as that term stigmatizes defendants who are in fact victims of sex trafficking. Nowhere else in the Penal Law are individuals identified by the crime they allegedly committed.

    “The victims in these crimes are most often young women who have had their childhood stolen and their lives left in ruin because of greedy, depraved individuals,” Paulin said “The goal of the TVPJA is to help all those who have been commercially sexually exploited and provide them with the tools they need to rejoin society and recapture as normal a life as possible.”

    “We need to pass the TVPJA in its entirety. By coming here today and lobbying to pass the TVPJA and proclaiming May 13 Human Trafficking Awareness Day in New York, we will keep a light shining on this intolerable offense against humanity and continue to remind the people of this State that this vicious and vile practice of trafficking human beings for the purposes of sex must be permanently stamped out. Remember, People Are Not For Sale.”

    Members of the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition, comprised of 140 organizations throughout the State, including NOW-NYC, Sanctuary For Families, and The New York State Public Affairs Committee (NYSPAC) of the Junior League, were in attendance. Distinguished guests include the Honorable Judy Harris Kluger, executive director of Sanctuary For Families, Denise Murphy McGraw, co-chair of NYSPAC of the Junior League, Lauren Hersh, director of Anti-Trafficking Policy and Advocacy for Sanctuary for Families, and Janmarie Brown, director of Residential Gateways Program.

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    deedee21 Well-Known Member

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    No plea deals for these cases. On another note, Sara Krusan is FREE
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