Sex Trafficking in South Carolina
Caring counsel for victims of sexual exploitation and their families
All sexual assault crimes are horrific. They all leave their victims emotionally scarred. The most serious assaults, as defined by South Carolina and Federal laws, are sexual intercourse through force, sexual exploitation of minors, and the buying, selling, and forcing of sex for money. In some cases, one individual is responsible. In others, an organization or company profits from directing the criminal activity.
At McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, our South Carolina sexual assault attorneys file civil claims on behalf of victims of exploitation and trafficking. We work with a team of investigators and healthcare professionals to assist in the prosecution of your civil claim. Our offices are safe and secure, and you can meet with a male or female attorney, based on what makes you feel comfortable.
What is sex trafficking?
Federal law defines sex trafficking as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” Per the National Human Trafficking Hotline, to fit the definition of sex trafficking, the commercial sex act must be “induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or [is one] in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.” Sex trafficking also includes the commercial sexual exploitation of children or minors (commonly abbreviated as CSEC).
According to Human Trafficking Search, sex trafficking most often affects people who are vulnerable, such as those who are:
- In foster care
- Victims of domestic violence
- Displaced by natural disasters
Traffickers use a variety of tactics to violate the rights of their targets including violence, threats, manipulation, “debt bondage,” the promise of an education, and romance. Traffickers can work together as part of criminal network or individually. Group examples include gang members, family members, pimps, business owners, or smugglers.
How big of a problem is sex trafficking in the U.S.?
People often believe that sex trafficking is something that happens overseas, not here in America. The truth is that sex trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar industry in the U.S. alone. Per USA TODAY, which compiled data from multiple sources, sex trafficking has led to almost $100 billion in profits; victims are worth, on average, between $55,000 and $80,000 apiece.
Polaris, which runs the National Trafficking Hotline, handled 51,919 trafficking cases between 2007 and 2018 in the Unites States alone. Per their data:
- There was a 25% increase in human trafficking between 2017 and 2018:
- There were 10,949 cases in total in 2018.
- 7,859 – about 72% – were sex trafficking cases.
- There were 14,749 sex trafficking survivors identified in 2018.
- Sex trafficking is more prevalent in the following industries:
- Escort services
- Illicit massage, health & beauty
- Bars, strip clubs & cantinas
Sex trafficking in South Carolina
In South Carolina in 2018, there were 107 cases of sex trafficking. Of those cases:
At this time, there is legislation in committee in the SC House of Representatives to amend the current statutes regarding sex trafficking in the state. The legislation intends to define and address criminal penalties for sex traffickers. You can read the bill in its entirety, or view its progression through the Legislature.
What constitutes sexual exploitation of a child?
Federal laws regarding sexual exploitation of a child define the crime as:
“Any person who employs, uses, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any minor to engage in, or who has a minor assist any other person to engage in, or who transports any minor in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or Possession of the United States, with the intent that such minor engage in, any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct or for the purpose of transmitting a live visual depiction of such conduct, shall be punished as provided under subsection (e), if such person knows or has reason to know that such visual depiction will be transported or transmitted using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce or in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or mailed, if that visual depiction was produced or transmitted using materials that have been mailed, shipped, or transported in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce by any means, including by computer, or if such visual depiction has actually been transported or transmitted using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce or in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or mailed.”
South Carolina defines first degree sexual exploitation of a child similarly to federal law:
“An individual commits the offense of first degree sexual exploitation of a minor if, knowing the character or content of the material or performance, he:
- uses, employs, induces, coerces, encourages, or facilitates a minor to engage in or assist others to engage in sexual activity or appear in a state of sexually explicit nudity when a reasonable person would infer the purpose is sexual stimulation for a live performance or for the purpose of producing material that contains a visual representation depicting this activity or a state of sexually explicit nudity when a reasonable person would infer the purpose is sexual stimulation;
- permits a minor under his custody or control to engage in sexual activity or appear in a state of sexually explicit nudity when a reasonable person would infer the purpose is sexual stimulation for a live performance or for the purpose of producing material that contains a visual representation depicting this activity or a state of sexually explicit nudity when a reasonable person would infer the purpose is sexual stimulation;
- transports or finances the transportation of a minor through or across this State with the intent that the minor engage in sexual activity or appear in a state of sexually explicit nudity when a reasonable person would infer the purpose is sexual stimulation for a live performance or for the purpose of producing material that contains a visual representation depicting this activity or a state of sexually explicit nudity when a reasonable person would infer the purpose is sexual stimulation; or
- records, photographs, films, develops, duplicates, produces, or creates a digital electronic file for sale or pecuniary gain material that contains a visual representation depicting a minor engaged in sexual activity or a state of sexually explicit nudity when a reasonable person would infer the purpose is sexual stimulation.”
South Carolina’s pending legislation hopes to amend the current Code to include more protections for child victims of sex and human trafficking.
“South Carolina’s child sex trafficking statute does not require use of force, fraud, or coercion. Additionally, child victims are not subject to prosecution for prostitution and trafficking offenses committed pursuant to their victimization; instead, survivors may access specialized services through ‘certified specialized service providers’ and Human Trafficking Acute Crisis Care and Resource Centers.” Center for Justice and Advocacy
Why we can help you file a claim for damages in a sex trafficking case
The decision to file charges is up to the state or federal government. Victims of abuse, however, may file a claim in civil court to seek damages for their injuries. You can file this lawsuit regardless of how the criminal case develops.
At McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, our attorneys practice in both state and federal courts. These are complex cases requiring hundreds of hours of work. Our firm has the resources to handle this type of complex litigation.
Our attorneys offer you a safe and secure environment in which to discuss your needs and your goals. We treat you with dignity and your case with discretion. If you would feel more comfortable working with a female attorney, you can. We want you to put your full trust in us, and we will do whatever is in our power to help accomplish that goal. We want to give you your power back.
Get help now. Contact McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC today
Sex trafficking is not only a felony: it is an egregious moral and ethical wrong. When these monstrous crimes occur, the individuals who commit them deserve to be held accountable. For help understanding your rights as a survivor, call the assault lawyers at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC today. You can make an appointment by calling our team at 803-327-7800 or filling out our contact form.