Tell Congress: Law Enforcement Can’t Exploit Trafficking Victims

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Summary: Law enforcement should be criminally barred from engaging in sexual activity with anyone they may wind up arresting or anyone they meet in the context of a human trafficking or other investigation. That seems like something we shouldn’t even have to say, but it happens. A recent Arizona case involved ICE officers engaging in sexual activity with people in massage parlors they were supposedly investigating.  That’s disturbing on a lot of levels, but it is also extremely dangerous in the context of reducing and preventing human trafficking. Many trafficking victims already distrust police - both because of their own experience and because of things their traffickers have told them in order to keep them under control. What the Arizona ICE agents did is only going to make that mistrust worse - and make it less likely that victims will seek help or cooperate in cases against their traffickers. That’s why we are asking you to support the Closing the Law Enforcement Consent Loophole Act (H.R.2172). This important legislation makes it a crime for law enforcement to engage in a sexual act while acting under color of law. Most law enforcement officers would never do this, but clearly there is a need to create real accountability for some. 

Outcome: Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act which included closing the loophole that allowed law enforcement officers to engage in sexual activity with those they had arrested, detained, or have in custody. Previously, officers could say that they had consent from the victim even in situations where the victim was handcuffed or restrained. However, the new law makes this a crime for federal law enforcement officers and incentivizes states to enact similar laws making it illegal for law enforcement officers to have sex with those in their custody, regardless of consent.