Sunday, June 24, 2018
News Roundup

Forum keys on more help for victims in fighting human trafficking

TAMPA — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has seen firsthand the difference a well-run safe house can make in the lives of human trafficking victims.

Bondi told the audience gathered Thursday at a human trafficking forum of a recent trip she took to Mexico City, where she and other attorneys general discussed prominent issues with Mexican officials and visited a treatment facility for victims.

"One thing they are ahead of us on is safe houses," Bondi said.

The forum, hosted by the attorney general and U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III, focused on issues such as investigations, prosecutions, forensic interviews and the need for victim services. One reoccurring topic was the need for more safe houses — secure locations run by service providers that give lodging and physical and mental care for victims.

Human trafficking — ranging from the sexual exploitation of minors to forced labor — has risen to the forefront as a prominent issue across the state in the past couple years. The Legislature is reviewing several bills this session on human trafficking, including one that sparked controversy by suggesting involuntary confinement of girls who are most at risk of flight.

Bondi told the audience she had met with legislators Wednesday night and reworked the language of the bill, eliminating the provision that would keep girls in a safe house against their will.

"Everyone shares the common goal of helping these victims," Bondi said. "We're optimistic that, working with the House and Senate, we will come to a great resolution regarding human trafficking legislation."

The bill also seeks to create a Statewide Council on Human Trafficking. The council, overseen by Bondi, would coordinate efforts among service providers and law enforcement to support victims and fight commercial sexual exploitation as a form of human trafficking.

Even though prosecutions have increased as the issue has become more of a priority nationwide, Bentley said it is still difficult to quantify the extent of the problem. A majority of human trafficking cases go unreported, and Bentley said he suspects the number of prosecutions doesn't come anywhere close to showing the full picture.

"We're prosecuting the tip of the iceberg," Bentley said. "We cannot prosecute our way out of this problem. What we really need is prevention."

Bentley also reinforced the importance of a partnership between prosecutors and service providers. While a victim's testimony and cooperation can be integral to the success of a case, it can be difficult to keep that victim engaged with the process if he or she is not receiving vital emotional and physical support.

"We have had investigations or prosecutions break down because the victim becomes unresponsive or disappears," Bentley said. "This is a real problem we have. It's difficult to provide the women with the services it takes for them to recover."

Caitlin Johnston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2443.

Comments
Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

ST. PETERSBURG — With all that's been said, tweeted, ranted and written on these pages and elsewhere about the Rays' odd, unorthodox, weird and some days downright wacky pitching plan, this might be the craziest thing yet:It's working.Like, rea...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

There are many unanswered questions and discrepancies about the story of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and the March 2016 Uber ride in Arizona that has led to his upcoming three-game suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy.The Bucs won't ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

A t his introductory news conference after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Bucs in 2015, Jameis Winston said to judge him on his actions moving forward."Actions speak so much louder than words, or what they may have read or what they may have hear...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

It's rare to see an NHL draft pick with Tampa Bay ties, but the Jets used a third-round pick Saturday on center Nathan Smith, 19, who played for Mitchell High School in Trinity and most recently for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL.Smith was ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Despite limited salary-cap room, the Lightning is among at least five teams expected to talk with Islanders All-Star center John Tavares, who can be a free agent July 1, when the courting period begins Sunday, ESPN reported.Tavares also is expected t...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Strangers are coming together to honor two killed in Bayshore crash

TAMPA — John Reisinger has seen miracles since his niece and 21-month-old grand-niece were killed while trying to cross Bayshore Boulevard 30 days ago. Some, he says, are too painful to talk about. Others he’s still trying to make sense of, such as h...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

ST. PETERSBURG — The key to SS Willy Adames rapping two of the biggest hits in the Rays' 4-0 win Saturday actually took place the night before.An RBI single that snapped an 0-for-12 and a second hit two winnings later in Friday's game restored ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Even without a first-round pick, the Lightning wrapped up its draft with seven picks Saturday, starting with Gabriel Fortier, an undersized 18-year-old forward from Quebec in the second round."They were guys that we really wanted," Lightning director...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

INF Daniel Robertson has only played two games after a short DL stint, but it seems like he has already made a half dozen great plays. Willy Adames and Jake Bauers get the attention, but Robertson has the skills to steal the show any night.It is obvi...
Updated: 8 hours ago