Kansas Governor, AG Target Human Trafficking

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Gov. Sam Brownback and Attorney General Derek Schmidt want to crack down on those who sexually exploit children.

In a Statehouse news conference Friday, they detailed legislation creating the new crime of commercial sexual exploitation of a child.

Schmidt says the proposal would increase the fines for those who are purchasing sexual services in Kansas and promoting prostitution of persons under the age of 18.

"This is not inconsequential conduct. It's not a matter for people to do what they will do in the privacy of their own homes," Schmidt said. "This is about sexually exploiting Kansas kids for commercial gain and it is a serious crime."

The bill also establishes the Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Fund. Money would come from mandatory fines on those convicted of human trafficking and related sex crimes. The bill also sets up special Child in Need of Care procedures for children who've been victims of human trafficking and speeds expungement for those convicted of selling sexual relations if they were coerced.

The measure will be introduced next week in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Schmidt's office is the lead entity of the Kansas Human Trafficking Advisory board, which was created three years ago to study the problems of forced labor and sex trafficking.

Complete news release from the Governor's office:
Topeka - Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Attorney General Derek Schmidt today announced they will ask the Kansas Legislature to strengthen the state’s human trafficking statutes, with an emphasis on protecting children from commercial sexual exploitation.

"With this important legislation, Kansas will take great strides forward in the fight against modern-day slavery," Gov. Brownback said. "This will not only strengthen our ability to severely punish traffickers, it will give us valuable new tools to protect vulnerable young victims so they can have hope of a new life."

In developing the proposed legislation, the Governor and Attorney General sought input from law enforcement agencies, social service providers and key stakeholders.

"This proposal will significantly strengthen our ability to protect Kansas children from sex traffickers," Attorney General Schmidt. "It will put in place a strong foundation to support child victims and to break the cycle of exploitation."

The bill establishes a Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Fund to provide support for those victimized by human trafficking. The fund will be paid for through mandatory fines on people convicted of human trafficking and related sex crimes. The bill also provides for special Child in Need of Care procedures for children who have been subjected to human trafficking and expedites expungement procedures for those convicted of selling sexual relations if they were subject to coercion.

A new crime of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of a Child is created in the bill, increasing the penalties of the existing crimes of patronizing a prostitute and promoting prostitution of persons under the age of 18. Increased penalties and sentencing enhancements are included for a number of other related crimes.

The bill also includes additional training and tools for law enforcement to combat human trafficking. It will be introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.


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