As reported by Amanda Milkovits in the November 15, 2010 edition of the Providence Journal, two (2) men were arrested by the Providence Police Department and charged with human trafficking and enslavement. The men, both from New York, are accused of forcing teenage girls to work as prostitutes in Rhode Island. The men had the women working out of apartments in downtown Providence. The victims were not from Rhode Island, but brought to Rhode Island by the men.
The two men are the first to be charged with human sex trafficking since the new Rhode Island law which makes indoor prostitution illegal. In November 2009, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a new law closing the "loophole," which allowed prostitution indoors, but made prostitution outdoors a crime. The men are facing charges of trafficking, involuntary servitude and first degree sexual assault. Pursuant to Rhode Island General Law 11-67-2, involuntary servitude is defined as:
Whoever knowingly subjects, attempts to subject, or engages in a conspiracy to subject another person to forced labor or commercial sexual activity either by:
(1) Causing or threatening to cause physical harm to any person;
(2) Physically restraining or threatening to physically restrain another person;
(3) Abusing or threatening to abuse the law or legal process;
(4) Knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating or possessing without that person's consent any actual or purported passport or other immigration document, or any other actual or purported government identification document, of another person; or
(5) By using intimidation
Pursuant to Rhode Island General Law 11-67-3, trafficking of persons for forced labor or commercial sexual activity is defined as:
(a) Recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains by any means, or attempts to recruit, entice, harbor, transport provide, or obtain by any means, another person, intending or knowing that the person will be subjected to forced labor in order to commit a commercial sexual activity; or
(b) Benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from knowing participation in a venture which has engaged in an act described in violation of § 11-67-2, or 11-67-3
Both crimes are felonies and the penalties for each include up to twenty (20) years imprisonment, a fine of up to twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) or both.
The women in this case have not been charged by police for prostitution. However, even if they have been charged, the law that closed the prostitution loophole, also created an affirmative defense for women, such as the victims in this case, who were forced into prostitution. Pursuant to Rhode Island General Law 11-34.1-2(d):
(d) In any prosecution for a violation under this section [prostitution] it shall be an affirmative defense if the accused was forced to commit a commercial sexual activity by:
(1) Being threatened or, subjected to physical harm;
(2) Being physically restrained or threatened to be physically restrained;
(3) Being subject to threats of abuse of law or legal process;
(4) Being subject to destruction, concealment, removal or confiscation, of any passport or other immigration document, or any other actual or purported governmental identification document; or
(5) Being subject to intimidation in which the accused's physical well being was
perceived as threatened.If you or a family member have been charged with sex trafficking, first degree sexual assault or other sex crimes please allow Attorney Robert H. Humphrey's reputation, experience and skill to successfully guide you through the legal process. Contact Robert H. Humphrey, Esq., at 401-816-5862 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.