Lawmakers hear testimony on sex trafficking bill
Camille Naaktgeboren shared grim truths of modern day slavery with state lawmakers on Wednesday so other victims might one day have the same chance to recover that she’s had.Naaktgeboren, now a professor of microbiology at the College of Southern Nevada, testified as members of the Nevada Assembly and Senate judiciary committees began hearings on a comprehensive sex trafficking bill.She recounted gruesome details of her life as a victim of sex trafficking, which started when she was just a 5-year-old child.“Though there are many ways a human being may end up being trafficked for sex, the outcomes for the victims are similar,” Naaktgeboren said. “The trauma and devastation reverberates through our lives in similar ways.”The bill, Assembly Bill 67, defines sex trafficking, stiffens criminal penalties, provides tools for victims and law enforcement officers and includes customers of trafficked persons in the same criminal class as the traffickers in some cases.With more than 100 people in the crowd and more watching a remote feed in Las Vegas, Naaktgeboren and other trafficking survivors urged lawmakers to pass the bill that would define sex trafficking for the first time in Nevada law.Naaktgeboren said she was an example of someone who made it out of sex trafficking.“I didn’t do it alone, I didn’t do it without being able to get away from my trafficker and I didn’t do it without money being spent on fixing both the physical and psychological damage that was done.”“Other victims deserve this chance, too,” she said.Current pandering laws allow for a maximum prison sentence of five years if physical force is used and four years if physical force is not used on adults. For children, the maximums increase to 20 and 10 years, respectfully.AB67 increases the penalties across the board. Trafficking of a child would carry a minimum of 10 years behind bars and up to life in prison. For adults, traffickers could face up to 20 years in prison.“If someone is forced into having sex with men after men after men, it is a serious issue and it requires serious punishment,” Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said.Customers of trafficked girls would be subject to the same penalties if they used or threatened physical force with adults or if they trafficked children sexually. The bill also prohibits judges from sentencing convicted traffickers to probation if any of their victims were minors.“These pimps and gangbangers have realized they can only sell a bag of drugs once, but a girl an infinite number of times,” said Sgt. Ron Chalmers of the Reno Police Department.More than 200 ads soliciting sex in Reno appeared on two websites this week, and last week, two girls, 12 and 14 years old, were rescued from traffickers in Carson City, Chalmers said.Donald Hoier, a Las Vegas police sergeant assigned to sex trafficking, said accused traffickers often waive their preliminary hearings to gain more time to intimidate their victims into not testifying. AB67 would prevent waiving the hearing unless the prosecution agrees.The bill also grants victims access to civil action against their traffickers and provides wide discretion for the judge to seize assets of traffickers and award the proceeds to the victims for restitution.“If we put one perp in prison for life that is saving a generation of victims,” said chief deputy attorney general Michon Martin, one of AB67’s architects.Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, said while some concerns about the bill had been raised — specifically due process objections to not being able to waive a preliminary hearing — he was confident a compromise could be reached.