A look into the legal distinction between sex trafficking and prostitution

Published: Feb. 18, 2019 at 6:16 PM CST
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After two men were arrested here in Lincoln in connection to sex trafficking, 10/11 NOW got feedback from many viewers asking about the legal distinction between sex trafficking and prostitution.

The Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force says the main difference between prostitution and sex trafficking has to do with consent, but there are many aspects surrounding this.

Confusion between sex trafficking and prostitution is something Glen Parks says he hears all the time.

"I think it cheapens the crime of sex trafficking to conflate it with prostitution as being the same thing and its not. It is slavery, it is forcing someone to do something against their will,” said Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force Coordinator, Glen Parks.

Parks says prostitution involves someone preforming commercial sex acts in exchange for something of value, at their own will.

It's illegal but consensual.

He says human trafficking, is modern day slavery.

"It's owning a person, it's treating a person like a product, in which you're trading it like a commodity,” said Parks.

Sex trafficking is a commercial sex act in exchange for something valuable, without the consent of the victim.

And if someone involved in a sex act is under 18 it's automatically sex trafficking.

A law passed in 2016 grants immunity to victims of sex trafficking.

"If that is known to law enforcement, then no arrest would be made. And even if an arrest was made and this came out later, it's an affirmative defense to this charge,” said Parks.

Lincoln Police say there are many things it looks at to determine if a situation involves trafficking.

"They are going to use electronic evidence and interview victims and witnesses to find out if the woman was being trafficked or not,” said Officer Angela Sands.

LPD would not expand on specifics involving evidence.

Parks says he wants people to be aware, it can happen anywhere.

"Sex trafficking can be happening in a single room. It's just a matter of is it commercial, sex act, without consent,” said Parks.

Investigators ask anyone with additional information about the recent sex trafficking arrests to contact Lincoln Police or Lincoln Crime Stoppers at 402-475-3600.

LPD says it'll update us on the investigation later this week.