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Workshop Addresses Human Trafficking in Ohio

Attorney Sarah Warpinski presented at a workshop in Lima, Ohio that addresses Human Trafficking. Sarah is a Skadden Fellow whose work focuses on more effectively identify victims of human trafficking and improving victims' access to legal advocacy and services.

The following story by Tricia Bell, appeared on WLIO in Lima on February 11, 2014. View below, or view on the Hometownstations.com website.

Ten years ago, few people in the Lima area had ever heard the term human trafficking. However, awareness is now growing for this form of modern day slavery. The Northwest Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition held a training Tuesday to ensure community members are able to spot and respond to victims.

"I myself have dealt with four victims, and unfortunately, it's getting bigger and bigger," said Cathy Follett, Director of Intervention Services, Allen County Juvenile Court.

Dozens of people from area social service agencies are taking part in the training which is focusing on child victims of sex trafficking. Presenters say there are signs to watch for like behavior changes, and fear or depression.

warpinski-workshop-lima-021114"They might have an older boyfriend or a brand new group of friends that is taking all of their time, they're isolating themselves from everyone else, especially if you start to see that they're getting a lot of new things. New cell phones, new clothes," said Sarah Warpinski, advocate/attorney, Legal Aid.

While the problem is growing in the state so are the consequences. Human trafficking is now a felony offense in Ohio.

"So, it's much easier now to prosecute trafficking because we have a law in Ohio that criminalizes it. In addition that law protects the victims," said Warpinski.

Cathy Follett explains why protecting the victims is so important.

"These are children that cannot have a voice. They don't have that voice, and they're being overtaken by these pimps and Johns who are doing so many bad things to them. So, it's our job to have our voice working for them," said Follett.

If you think you've encountered human trafficking call local a agency like Crime Victim Services or call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. The hotline number is 1-888-3737-888. Callers can remain anonymous.