Missouri Family E-News

June 1, 2016

                        
New MO Law Cracks Down on Sex Trade 

The Missouri General Assembly has sent to Governor Jay Nixon legislation which would toughen the state's laws against human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

House Bill 1562, sponsored by Representative Elijah Haahr, was approved unanimously by both chambers of the Missouri Legislature.  The final version of the bill was approved by the House in the last week of the session by a vote of 154-0.  It had been adopted earlier by the Senate in a 28-0 vote.

The chief target of the bill are sex trafficking networks that market the sexual "services" of women and minors through online advertising sites that carry "classified" ads for casual sexual encounters.

Current Missouri law declares that human trafficking occurs when a person "knowingly recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains" a child, or an adult without their consent, for use in a commercial sex act, sexual conduct, a sexual performance, or the production of explicit sexual material.

House Bill 1562 would add to state statutes the crime of "advertising the availability" of a person for sexual activity who is underage or is acting under coercion or sexual bondage.

Most state and federal laws dealing with human trafficking were drafted to combat sexual trafficking in the form of prostitution.  Pimps would force women and children to be streetwalkers soliciting customers cruising for sexual partners.

In this era of expansive technology, sexual trafficking has developed into a secretive online enterprise.  Men can go online and secure the "services" of precisely the type of woman they want for the type of activity they desire at a location of their choosing.

"What we learned as we investigated this issue is that everything from high tech apps and websites to low tech posters are used to advertise sex trafficking victims," Haahr says.  "By shutting down this means of advertising we can strike a serious blow against traffickers and hopefully protect many innocent lives."

Should the governor sign the bill, it will be a critical tool for prosecutors and cybercrime units tracking the internet marketing of "escort services" and the like, where anonymity helps trafficking enterprises to conceal their financially profitable networks.

Last year the U.S. Congress enacted a similar law championed by Missouri Congresswoman Ann Wagner.  Known as the SAVE (Stop Advertising Victims of Sexual Exploitation) Act, the bill amended the federal criminal code to prohibit the online advertising of minors for sexual activity purposes.

While sleazy websites like Craigslist are littered with ads for surreptitious sexual conduct, human trafficking experts are most concerned about a repulsively notorious website called Backpage.com

Backpage is estimated to generate more than $10 million a month from online "sex for hire" classified ads.  More than 400 proven cases of child sex trafficking have been linked to the website in recent years, including six in Missouri.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that more than three-quarters of the tips it receives of suspected child trafficking involve connections to the Backpage website.

The U.S. Senate recently approved a resolution finding officials of Backpage.com in contempt of Congress.  Company officers have ignored subpoenas to appear before a Senate committee investigating human trafficking in the United States.

We want to commend Representative Haahr for his dedicated and persistent efforts to combat the plague of sex trafficking.  We also salute Senator Bob Onder of Lake St. Louis, who handled the bill in the Senate. 
  

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Lt. Governor Kinder
Calls for Reversal of
Obama Bathroom Edict

Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder has issued a public demand to the Obama Administration to withdraw their recent edict ordering unisex bathrooms in the nation's public schools.   Kinder sent a letter to President Obama calling for the rescission of the dictate issued by the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Under this edict, public school officials must allow students to use the restrooms, locker rooms, and shower rooms of the opposite sex, or face the loss of federal education funding.  U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch falsely decreed that Title IX of federal education law requires that students be permitted to use bathrooms based on their imaginary "gender identity."

Lt. Governor Kinder branded the federal dictate as "an unconstitutional abuse of authority by the executive branch."  "This is a blatant attempt to change established law, which is a function reserved for the U.S. Congress.  By threatening local school districts with the loss of federal funding, your administration is seizing local control from public schools while threatening the privacy rights of Missouri students."

Kinder pointed out that the Obama Administration bathroom mandate violates the clear language of Title IX and its regulations.  He also argued that school districts who choose to buckle to the blackmail of the federal government will expose themselves to lawsuits and liability for violating the privacy rights of students and the parental rights of their parents and guardians.

"Missouri schools must not be forced to comply with this extraconstitutional decree and the practical implications it would have on their operations and their students,"  Kinder wrote in the letter.  "[This edict] puts Missouri public schools in the unjust position of having to choose between doing what is best for their student population or receiving federal funding."

More than 100 Missouri state senators and representatives have also signed on to Kinder's letter, including Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard and House Speaker Todd Richardson.  Many state legislators have also sent a letter to Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven urging state education officials to resist the Obama Administration's blackmail.

"If we, as a society, are intent upon instructing and training our children on the difference between right and wrong, then we must stand against decrees from the federal government forcing us to do otherwise," the letter states.  "We strongly urge you to consider the well-being of our children...and refuse to follow the preposterous demands of [these] federal agencies."

State Senator David Sater says the bathroom mandate is just the latest effort by the Obama Administration to transform America into a nation "devoid of the morals and values that made our country the greatest in human history."  "Should we really open up male and female locker rooms to the opposite gender based on how that individual 'feels?'  Does this decision open up our students to sexual harassment and allow sexual predators where they don't belong and can take advantage of the most vulnerable?"
Even liberal Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster stated that the federal agencies had gone too far.  Koster said that the issue of bathroom access should be handled on the local level by school districts that "are capable of forming lawful policy on this issue."  On the other hand, Missouri U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill was quoted as saying that allowing men to invade the privacy of women's bathrooms is "kind of common sense."

In the meantime, it was announced last week that eleven states have filed suit against the Obama Administration over the bathroom edict.  The litigation, spearheaded by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, was filed in U.S. District Court in northern Texas.  The lawsuit alleges that the federal dictate "flouts the democratic process, and runs roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights."

Kellie Fiedorek, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), applauded the joint state action.  "Schools have an obligation to protect the privacy and dignity of all students.  Students should not be forced to undress in the same locker rooms and share rooms on overnight trips with students of the opposite sex.  Americans should be thankful we have school districts and states who are not capitulating to the threats and bullying of a federal government that is out of step and out of touch with the American people."

Back here in Missouri, an attorney allied with ADF has sent a letter to every public school district in the state explaining that they are not legally required to allow students to use the restrooms, showers, and changing rooms of the opposite sex.  Springfield attorney Marsha Stiles points out in the letter that Title IX regulations specifically allow schools to "provide separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex."

The letter from Stiles details the legal standard that students have the fundamental right to bodily privacy, and that parents have the fundamental right to control their children's education and upbringing.  Stiles documents the fact that in all but one case federal courts have ruled that bodily privacy is violated when students "are forced into situations where members of the opposite sex may view their partially or fully unclothed bodies."

Stiles also makes clear that the threat by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to withhold federal funding is a hollow one.  The simple fact, according to Stiles, is that "no school has ever lost funding in the 40 years since Title IX was enacted."

We strongly encourage you to contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative to urge them to work to overturn the Obama Administration bathroom mandate.

You can reach Senator Roy Blunt through this link:
Senator Roy Blunt

You can reach Senator Claire McCaskill at this link:
Senator Claire McCaskill

You can contact your Congressman or Congresswoman through this link:
Your Congressman

Joe's Signature

 

Missouri Family Policy Council, 1430 Triad Center Dr., Ste. B, St. Peters, MO 63376
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