Advocates Join Governor to Highlight Law to Address Human Trafficking

July 11, 2013

For Immediate Release: Thursday, July 11
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – A bill that strengthens Maine law pertaining to sex trafficking and other related crimes is now on the books. Governor Paul R. LePage today joined members of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Office of the Attorney General and U.S. Department of Homeland Security to ceremonially sign LD 1159, "An Act To Address Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking and Prostitution."

This bill adds sex trafficking as a crime under Maine law. This includes crimes where people are forced into prostitution against their will, whether through human smuggling or against individuals with mental illness.

“There were few bills I was as pleased to sign as this one. Issues that victims are facing had to be addressed and offenders needed a stronger message from Maine saying that this unthinkable criminal behavior will not be tolerated,” Governor LePage said. “I thank everyone who helped to ensure this legislation moved forward and is my hope that Maine will be a safer state for it.”

Destie Hohman Sprague, of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault was actively involved in advocating for LD 1159 and joined the Governor as he signed the bill. "This reform is an important step toward shifting the cultural understanding of sex trafficking, and naming the crime for what it truly is. Along with the enhanced penalties for the offenders (pimps and johns) and increased access to resources for victims, this legislation is a powerful new tool for combatting this crime in Maine," Hohman Sprague said.

The bill becomes law Wednesday, October 9, 2013.

Photo is in below link. L to R in Photo: Elizabeth Ward-Saxl, Executive Director, Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault; Jaime Ricker, Advocate, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services; Gary Cote, Agent in Charge for Maine-US Department of Homeland Security; Meg Elam, Deputy DA, Cumberland County (primary author and driver of the bill); Governor Paul R. LePage; Destie Hohman Sprague, Program Coordinator Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (front); Debi Lettri, Administrative Assistant, Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Program (back); Arian Giantris, Program Coordinator; Catholic Charities Maine Refugee and Immigration Services (front);Polly Campbell, Program Director, Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Program (back)

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Photo: Advocates Join Governor to Highlight Law to Address Human Trafficking