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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14)

BAINBRIDGE – This week, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) hosted a virtual roundtable with local experts to address human trafficking in Northeast Ohio. During the roundtable, Joyce and the panelists discussed the importance of education and training efforts when it comes to identifying victims, ways to improve survivor services, and obstacles that prevent traffickers from being brought to justice. Local experts who joined Joyce for this important conversation included:

  • Sondra Miller, President & CEO, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center
  • Kalyn Stephens, VP Government Affairs, American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA)
  • Anne Victory, Education Director, Greater Cleveland Collaborative to End Human Trafficking
  • Sophia Papadimos, Coordinator, Ohio’s Human Trafficking Task Force
  • Michael Gettings, Acting Chief of Police, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
  • Samantha Salamon, Legislative Chair, Summit County Collaborative Against Human Trafficking (SCCAHT)
  • Sgt. Jim Mackey and Det. John Morgan, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department

“Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world, with traffickers using violence, threats, deception, debt bondage, and other manipulative tactics to force people into modern day slavery,” said Joyce. “Unfortunately, Ohio has ranked as high as fifth among all states in reported human trafficking cases, so it’s critical that we do everything we can to prevent these crimes from happening, effectively support victims, and bring traffickers to justice. The experts who joined me for this roundtable are on the front lines of those efforts and I’m extremely grateful that they took the time out of their busy schedules to provide me with their insight. I look forward to continuing to support them and their life-saving work at the federal level.”

“Human trafficking thrives in the shadows of our community, where survivors feel unseen,” said Cleveland Rape Crisis Center President & CEO Sondra Miller. “The COVID pandemic has made those shadows bigger and darker, making far too many women, children and men fall prey to traffickers. Cleveland Rape Crisis Center is honored to support survivors of sex trafficking in their recovery and healing journey and we pledge to do everything we can to bring this horrible crime out of the shadows and into the spotlight.  We appreciate Congressman Joyce’s attention on human trafficking and applaud his commitment to ending it.”

“During such a challenging time for so many, we are proud that our industry remains dedicated to eradicating human trafficking,” said Chip Rogers, President & CEO, American Hotel & Lodging Association. “It is critical to continue a united approach by building coalitions with local partners, law enforcement, leading experts, and lawmakers like Congressman Joyce. Our goal is to have every hotel employee in the United States trained on how to spot and stop trafficking, and while there is still much more to do, our shared commitment to training and education will make a difference.”

“The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is committed to combating and to helping raise awareness of the unspeakable crime of human trafficking,” said RTA’s Acting Police Chief, Michael Gettings. “We want the community to know that every bus and train can be a safe place for someone seeking help. Anyone feeling at risk can simply board any bus or train and ask the operator for help. RTA operators have instant access to Transit Police, who can be on the scene within minutes to provide assistance.”

“I want to thank Congressman Joyce for the opportunity to participate in the Roundtable,” said Sr. Anne Victory, Director of Education at the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking. “We at the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking and our partners in Northeast Ohio are learning every day the value of working together to weave a safety net for victims and those who are vulnerable to the crime.  Victims and survivors deserve no less than our best efforts to share scarce resources so that they can experience healing from the trauma they have endured and begin building a brighter future.”

“Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a significant problem in Ohio and unless we truly make a commitment to educate the community on this problem and how to identify it, this problem will only continue right underneath our noses,” said Samantha Salamon, Legislative Chair of Summit County Collaborative Against Human Trafficking. “Education is key, but utilizing our voices is imperative.”

You can watch the roundtable in its entirety here. Actions in the 116th Congress Joyce has taken to combat human trafficking as well as sexual violence and harassment include:

o   included $85,000,000 in grant funding to support services for trafficking victims

o   would require the National Institutes of Health to fund research regarding the effects of media on infants, children, and adolescents, including social media which has been identified as one of the top platforms for human traffickers to recruit and groom victims

o   would establish federal criminal liability for individuals who share private, sexually explicit or nude images without consent and ensure the U.S. Department of Justice has effective tools to address those who perpetrate those crimes

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MIL OSI USA News