Human Trafficking of a Vulnerable Adult in Utah

Utah Human Trafficking laws up for amendments involving a vulnerable adult may cause legal trouble to those who are caring for a friend with mental illness or addiction. The Utah Human Trafficking laws are meant to catch and prosecute those who are practicing a modern version of slavery, but it can be misapplied to something as simple as expecting a ”live-In” friend with a drug addiction to clean the house in order to live at the residence.

Increased focus to stop human trafficking

Photo by: Imagens Evangélicas

Human trafficking has become a major problem in the United States. Human trafficking can take on several faces such as transporting a person across state lines without their permission, forced prostitution or forced employment. This growing crime is on many law makers’ radar and most states have made changes to their current laws to address this problem. There are several new advocacy groups forming and many panel discussions to bring this problem to the forefront as well as increased education into the matter.

Training for professionals

In the effort to combat human trafficking, one beneficial step is to train those in certain employments to recognize the signs of a trafficked person. Some of those professions being encouraged to receive training on how to spot human traffickers or their victims are:

Truck drivers: Many states are requiring training on human trafficking in order to receive their CDL licenses. The hope is that truck drivers will see instances of people being transported against their will. Most rest areas and truck stops now have signs posted regarding human trafficking.

Medical professionals: Physicians are another occupation encouraged to receive training. Many people that have escaped from their captors had received medical care during their captivity. Doctors and nurses can see signs of abuse while treating a patient. They can also see signs of repeated abortions, STD’s, or infections which are all indications of a victim of human trafficking.

Law enforcement: Police officers are also important in the fight against human trafficking. Officers can be aware of the disconcerting interaction between two people. One example would be if a person has an attitude of servitude or fear when bailing out another.

Vulnerable adult

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Along with educating the public and certain professionals, laws regarding human trafficking have been amended to include protection for overlooked victims. In January House Bill 20 was amended to clarify the language for human trafficking and to add an offense for trafficking a vulnerable adult. The new bill for a vulnerable adult reads: “Human trafficking of a vulnerable adult for forced labor” while one place of forced labor is defined as being in “households”. According to Utah House Bill 0020:
“Vulnerable adult” means an elder adult, or an adult 18 years of age or older who has a mental or physical impairment which substantially affects that person’s ability to:
(i) provide personal protection;
(ii) provide necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, or medical or other health care;
(iii) obtain services necessary for health, safety, or welfare;
(iv) carry out the activities of daily living;
(v) manage the adult’s own resources; or
(vi) comprehend the nature and consequences of remaining in a situation of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.”

With this addition to the human trafficking laws, it is possible that those responsible for looking out for the best interest of vulnerable adults such as medical professionals and law enforcement may misunderstand the dynamic of the home in which the vulnerable adult has been allowed to live.

Forced labor or earning your keep

With a push to end a societal problem, there are instances when innocent people can often be labeled as criminal human traffickers. There are many individuals in Utah who are struggling with a mental illness or a drug addiction that could cause them to be defined as a vulnerable adult. Family members or friends attempting to care for their struggling loved ones may face criminal charges if, in an attempt to help their loved one feel productive by pitching in around the house, they force them to perform household chores in order to “earn their keep”. While those carrying for a mentally ill or addicted vulnerable adult could feel they are serving that individual by encouraging productiveness, Utah law may see it as the vulnerable adult being forced to serve them. Anyone facing any charges stemming from their willingness to help a vulnerable adult are encouraged to seek immediate legal counsel from a qualified defense attorney.

Utah Man Arrested for Suspicion of Human Trafficking in Wyoming

A Utah man was arrested in Wyoming for suspicion of human trafficking undercover police responded to a prostitution ad found online.

“Hello, this is John”

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Undercover detectives in Cheyenne, Wyoming discovered an ad for prostitution on a website and arranged a meeting as a fake “John”. When officers arrived, two women on scene explained to officers they had been taken from Utah by a 35 year old man named Terry Blanks who was collecting their earnings from prostitution. Blanks was located nearby and arrested on two degrees of first degree human trafficking.

Human trafficking

According to Utah Code 76-5-309 and 76-5-310, Utah dishes out a second degree felony for human trafficking unless there is rape, aggravated sexual assault, or sexual crimes against children. Only then would the charge would be increased to a first degree felony. Although Wyoming was the last state to criminalize human trafficking, it now carries stiffer penalties than the neighboring state of Utah. Wyoming Statute 6-2-703 states “A person is guilty of human trafficking in the first degree when the person intentionally or knowingly recruits, transports, transfers, harbors, receives, provides, obtains, isolates, maintains or entices an individual for the purpose of:

(i) Forced labor or servitude . . .

(ii) Sexual servitude . . .

(iii) Sexual servitude of a minor”.

The charge for human trafficking is only reduced to a second degree felony in Wyoming if the person responsible behaves recklessly, not intentionally. For more information on charges that occur across state lines and how penalties and accompanying incarceration times vary depending on the state, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Utah Man Arrested for Exploiting Prostitution

A Utah man was arrested for exploiting prostitution during a human trafficking sting over the weekend in Salt Lake County.

The Pimp

Photo by: Ken

According to a bookings report from the Salt Lake County Jail, 28 year old Roger Dewayne Jessop was arrested on Friday for exploiting prostitution, a third degree felony. Police reports state Jessop was arrested at a hotel after an undercover agent arrived to an arranged meeting with a prostitute and observed that Jessop was the one running the show, causing the female prostitute to offer sex in exchange for money.

Exploiting prostitution

Utah Code 76-10-1305 states: “A person is guilty of exploiting prostitution is the person;

a) Procures a person for a place of prostitution;
b) Encourages, induces, or otherwise purposely causes another to become or remain a prostitute;
c) Transports a person into or within this state with a purpose to promote that person’s engaging in prostitution or procuring or paying for transportation with that purpose;
d) Not being a child or legal dependent of a prostitute, shares the proceeds of prostitution with a prostitute pursuant to their understanding that he is to share therein; or
e) Owns, controls, manages, supervises, or otherwise keeps, alone or in association with another, a place or prostitution or a business where prostitution occurs or is arranged, encouraged, supported, or promoted.”

Sexual solicitation or sex trafficking

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Those who “offer or agree to commit any sexual activity with another person for a fee ( . . . )“ are guilty of sexual solicitation, a class B misdemeanor. These charges do not apply if the person offering sex is a victim and doing said acts against their will. It wasn’t noted the age of the prostitute being pimped out by Jessop or whether or not she was a willing participant, however multiple female victims of human trafficking were noted as being rescued during the operation in Salt Lake County. To report information on a possible situation of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. For legal aid regarding prostitution charges contact a criminal defense attorney.