A Connecticut woman, who brought down a large ring of pimps and johns, is trying to stop this from happening to others.
“It pretty much felt like there was no way out,” the victim, who wanted to be identified only as Jennifer, said.
Jennifer is a victim of human trafficking and was sold for sex as much as ten times a day. She told Eyewitness News that she didn’t know others were getting paid for her services.
Jennifer said she never received money and was given heroin as payment.
After moving to Connecticut when she was 18years old Jennifer was sold to Brian Forbes. He got her hooked on heroin and he locked her in a room at a home in East Hartford.
She said she was forced her to have sex at that home or the homes of wealthy men. Some victims are brought to hotels and motels on the Berlin Turnpike. Forbes then sold her to Dennis Paris, who the federal authorities said was the ringleader.
Most human trafficking involves other countries. Between 14,000 and 17,000, most are women and children, are brought into the United States.
But, human trafficking is also happening in Connecticut. This year, Jennifer went to the State Capitol to share her story with lawmakers. Trafficking is a felony, but proposed legislation would create stiffer penalties.
It would crack down on hotels and motels that do not post signs with important information on where to get help. The signs also help people learn the signs of human trafficking and those who need our help.
“The law is now that you have to have these signs up in these buildings now, but there are no penalties,” state Rep. Russ Morin (D-Wethersfield) said. “The change would be if you don’t. The first offense you would be fined. Third offense, you could lose your license.”
Deb Scates was a detective in Hartford when she first met Jennifer, who was a strung out teenager who was trying to break free.
“When all this happened, we didn’t have anything at our disposal as far as law enforcement,” Scates said. “There were no programs out there for trafficking victims.”
Jennifer said she had no money and she was desperate. She tried to sell herself one last time and tried to a bus ticket home.
“A car pulled up and I got in,” Jennifer said. “We went behind this big building. I was surrounded by police officers.”
Getting arrested helped save her life, according to Jennifer. She and Scates became very close.
“She was the only person I had for a long time t,” Scates said. “She was like my mom. I loved her so much. I needed to talk to her.”
There was a trial and together with Jennifer’s powerful testimony. They brought down 12 men. Paris is now serving a 30-year federal sentence.
“I really want to help other people, help the world understand it could happen to you,” Jennifer said. “It could happen to anyone.”
The Paris trial helped Connecticut become aware of human trafficking and the need for training. Jennifer said some of the other young women are still struggling with drug addiction as well as physical and psychological scars.
“When you felt it sober, it hurts so much and that still affects me sex life today with my husband,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer has come a long way. She said she will never be able to forget what happened, but she is determined to be a good mother.
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