Investigating and Prosecuting Trafficking in Illicit Massage Businesses: Parts 1, 2, & 3

Webinar Recording

Presented by Jane Anderson, Attorney Advisor at AEquitas and Bradley Myles, CEO and Oriene Shin, Strategic Initiatives Specialist at Polaris

Illicit Massage Businesses (IMBs) are known fronts for criminal activity and human trafficking. They are venues guised as legitimate massage or bodywork businesses in which women are forced, coerced, and defrauded into performing countless sex acts with strangers on a daily basis. As in other sex-trafficking settings, many of the women fail to self-identify as victims of sexual, psychological, and physical violence by perpetrators who exploit their inability or unwillingness to engage the criminal justice system. Instead, the women view themselves as consenting members of IMBs. In spite of increased law enforcement efforts to combat human trafficking, IMBs have proved to be difficult targets largely because of ineffective response focused more on arresting individuals (particularly women) than on effectively dismantling organizations and offering services to victims. This traditional law enforcement response jeopardizes victim safety, permits “buyers” to escape accountability, and permits owners to resume operations in a new venue.

Part 1 of the 3-part series provides an overview of the IMB organizational model, which typically exists within one of many nationwide networks. The presenters discussed how women are recruited, harbored, and exploited within those networks. This webinar recording explors some of the challenges facing law enforcement and prosecutors, demonstrating the need for strategies to build evidence-based cases that can ensure that offenders are held accountable for their wide-ranging criminal activity. Click here to view the recording of the April 6, 2016 webinar.

Part 2 provides practical investigative strategies to build successful prosecutions of the owners, operators, and accomplices of IMBs. The presenters discussed enhancing investigations through partnerships with civil and criminal allied investigative agencies and service providers. This recording also provides an analytical framework for developing investigative strategies designed to identify and preserve evidence supporting a wide range of charges that can be prosecuted with or without victim participation. Click here to view the recording of the May 19, 2016 webinar.

Part 3 provides an overview of how trauma impacts victims of IMBs in addition to practical trauma-informed interviewing techniques that help us develop stronger and more understandable narratives. The presenters discussed making appropriate charging decisions; litigating pretrial motions to protect victim privacy; establishing the elements of the charges with or without victim participation; and educating the jury through voir dire, expert testimony, and effective witness examinations. Click here to view the recording of the June 30, 2016 webinar.

Allied justice system professionals, including but not limited to prosecutors, law enforcement officers, community-based service providers, medical and mental health practitioners, college campus professionals, probation and parole officers, and judges, are encouraged to register for these webinar recordings.

CLE Credits
The three one-hour recordings should qualify prosecutors for three (3.0) hours of continuing legal education credits. Prosecutors are encouraged to contact their state bar association in reference to application requirements and related fees.

Click here for Part 1, click here for Part 2, click here for Part 3.

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