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Stopping Sex Traffickers Online and on our Streets

Now is the Time to Pass the Congressional House Bill, Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA)

Thursday is National Human Trafficking Awareness day, to raise concern about one of the most heinous crimes occurring here and abroad. This modern-day sex slavery must be stopped.

This means that we must arm law enforcement and prosecutors with the legal tools to take actions against sex trafficking criminals.

To that end, Congressman Ann Wagner and Chairman Bob Goodlatte sponsored the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA) — legislation designed to give state, local, and federal prosecutors new ways to take down and imprison sex traffickers — whether they are selling on our streets or over the internet.

Existing laws have a complex and confusing path to prove that sex traffickers have criminal intent. FOSTA dramatically changes this dynamic.

FOSTA makes it easier for state, local, and federal law enforcement and criminal prosecutors to convict sex-traffickers by lowering the burdens of proof. FOSTA then goes further to allow sentencing of up to 25 years.

Recognizing the importance of enlisting additional enforcement resources, FOSTA allows all levels of law enforcement to prosecute criminal actors — both online and offline.

Along with putting sex traffickers behind bars, FOSTA helps victims by mandating that judges order financial recovery for victims once a criminal is convicted. This feature of FOSTA removes the need for each victim to endure the pain of protracted court battles, only to see trial lawyers walk off with a third of the lawsuit proceeds.

Instead, FOSTA mandates that all victims are paid and enables all recovery funds to go to victims, not the lawyers.

Because FOSTA is a such a powerful tool for criminal prosecution, it enjoys the supports of law enforcement across the country — including the:

Because FOSTA takes sex traffickers down and raises financial recovery for victims, FOSTA enjoys the support of victims groups like the:

You would hope that a bill like FOSTA would attract unanimous consent in Congress. Unfortunately, opposition to FOSTA is being drummed-up by trial bar lawyers who want the big payoffs that come from settling private lawsuits.

Regardless of the opposition of some self-serving trial attorneys, now is the time to pass FOSTA.

FOSTA was unanimously approved in Committee in December, so the sooner we move this bill to the House floor and through Congress, the sooner we can start sending criminals to prison and compensating victims for the horrors of sex trafficking.