Sex trafficking victim speaks out on new Ohio bill

Sex trafficking victim speaks out on new Ohio bill

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill that would erase crimes committed by those being trafficked for sex.

One young woman was 19-years-old when a man now in prison began trafficking her for sex. She committed and was convicted of crimes during that time. She says the bill would offer people like a chance to get past their history.

"I went into hiding for many, many years," the trafficking survivor said. "So I went into hiding and I went into my drugs."

She was convicted of a felony drug possession charge, which left her unable to get a job in medicine. She says she turned to drugs to numb the pain when she was trafficked and abused by a local gangster. She even gave her own children up for adoption.

"I want to go back to school to help people like me," she said. "I wanted to work in medicine but I can't with my felonies."

Senate Bill 4 just passed the state Senate unanimously, which would allow trafficking victims to apply to have records removed of some guilty convictions.

Tina Robinson, the founder of Butterflies 15, says that is the right thing to do in many cases.

"Because they're coerced into doing it," Robinson said. "Their family might have been threatened to be killed if they didn't get it done."

Butterflies 15 is a Toledo-area non-profit that houses trafficking victims after they escape the life or are released from jail or mental health centers. She says the cards are stacked against these victims if they have a felony on their record.

"That affects us in life so we just give up, and it shouldn't be that way," the trafficking survivor said. "We give up on our dreams and our hopes and we just shut ourselves down."

And she says a possible clean slate on her record, if the law changes, could be life-changing for her.

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