Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Scott to sign bills taking on human trafficking

TAMPA — Pledging "zero tolerance" for human trafficking, Gov. Rick Scott said Monday he'll sign two bills to help deal with it — one establishing a network of safe houses for victims and the other increasing penalties for perpetrators against children.

While visiting a downtown Tampa ministry of the Hyde Park United Methodist Church, Scott was surrounded by artwork decrying sex trafficking and a ring of community advocates and politicians devoted to ending it.

"I think about my two daughters," Scott said. "You just can't imagine this happening to anybody."

One bill devotes an additional $1.5 million toward safe houses where victims can be relocated and rehabilitated, Scott said. Among other things, the bill (HB 7141) calls for better assessment of child victims and special training for employees dealing with exploited children.

The other bill (HB 989) increases penalties for those who exploit children and derive income from prostitution, prohibits minors from working in adult theaters and allows victims to expunge certain offenses committed while being exploited from their records.

In this year's budget, the state allots $3 million toward safe houses and services for victims of human trafficking. Scott said he also approved $6 million more to help about 2,000 children tied up in court proceedings.

Ranging from sexual exploitation of minors to forced labor, human trafficking has become a prominent issue in the past few years. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who stood by Scott during Monday's event, described sex trafficking as "alive and thriving."

She said Florida ranks third in the country for the number of calls to a national trafficking hotline. She urged parents to have a conversation with their children about dangers posed by the Internet, where traffickers can lurk in disguise.

Midway through the news conference, Scott introduced Connie Rose of Selah Freedom, a nonprofit organization based in Sarasota that's dedicated to raising awareness of human trafficking and exploitation.

Rose, who is the organization's director of survivor leadership, is a survivor herself. Looking out a window of the building, she told of how "right here, on these streets, I was trafficked by my father," a service driver for an automotive store.

When she was 15, he began "setting" her up. During large gatherings, she said, she was passed between men and deemed "the party favor." Other nights, she stepped onto the front lawn and was picked up, returning home around 5 a.m.

Scott to sign bills taking on human trafficking 06/16/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2014 11:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida education news: Accountability plan, post-Irma, turnarounds and more

    Blogs

    ACCOUNTABILITY: The Florida Department of Education submits a revised Every Student Succeeds Act plan without the waiver requests it had originally proposed. Experts and advocates …

    High Point Elementary teacher Kristen Bierman works with English language learners on their reading skills. The state wants to test all students in English, saying it's Florida law.
  2. Rays morning after: Zim's legacy felt on bunt play

    Blogs

     

  3. Work, threats continue as Hernando recovers from Irma

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE

    Hurricane Irma's fierce winds are becoming a memory, but the water the storm left behind has become a real threat on Hernando's east side.

    This aerial drone view shows flooding on the Withlacoochee River in the Talisman Estates area of east Hernando, south of Ridge Manor. The river is about 6 feet above flood stage, and its floodwaters are not expected to recede for days.
  4. A boy and a girl stare at the camera from their house after Hurrciane Maria hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, September 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis. [Associated Prss]
  5. Forecast: Dry air, hot temperatures remain in control across Tampa Bay

    Weather

    Dry but hot weather will continue Thursday across Tampa Bay with only a 20 percent chance of showers forecast for the afternoon.

    7 day forecast. [WTSP]