I was at a sentencing hearing for Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes today, and the judge said some important things.  I have no idea whether the defendant truly heard any of it, but it helps me to pass it on.

Defendant: “Your Honor, I just want to say that I am a good person.  I was raised with good values. I honestly had no idea that she was a minor.  Had I known that she was underage none of this would have happened, I assure you.  I was raised to never have anything to do with someone underage. I’m not like that.”

Judge: “Mr.  John.  The only reason you didn’t know that she was a child is because you didn’t want to know.  Your selfish desire meant that you had blinders on.  You didn’t see what you didn’t want to see, because you wanted what you wanted.  But sir, the arrest happened in the first place because a detective who was out on another case saw a child walking along the street at night and watched you approach her.  You were standing right next to her, and the detective was across the street.  You say you had no idea she was underage, yet the detective across the street knew right away – it was obvious – that she was a child.  A child selling sexual services. To you.

“I am going to share with you why our state takes these cases so seriously.  Almost all the minors who provide sexual services are victims of childhood sexual abuse.  They are deeply, deeply wounded people.  Some of them are put out there by pimps who control their every move and take all their money.  They are forced to service twenty or twenty-five people like you a day.  Some are drug addicts, intentionally so, because the adults who control them want them to be addicted.  Some are sold at a very young age by their own parents or guardians.  Others are brought here from other countries.  They are promised good jobs and money for their families.  Once they get here, they are sold into sexual slavery.  They are locked in.

“Kids like the girl you wanted to service you are modern day slaves.  They are controlled by others.  Others make the profit off of their work and suffering.  No one protects them.  This is especially true of the street level prostitutes.  And the whole human trafficking trade, boys and girls, is based on you, Mr. John.  You create the demand. You are the buyer that makes this slave trade possible.  Can you see that?

You just told me you were raised right and have good values.  If this is true, you will not want to support slavery.  You will not want to cause this kind of suffering, or participate in it.  You will take your blinders off and quit pretending you don’t know when you see a vulnerable child who deserves protection, not further exploitation.

“If you could read the personal history of this girl, you would cry your eyes out, if you have any human feelings at all.  She was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, trafficked by a family member, and forced onto the streets to get money for the adults in her life.  You provided that money.  You, and people like you, keep her on the streets.

I wish you could read this victim’s Child Protective Services file.  And I wish you would cry.  I wish you could understand her, and see her in all the other children walking the streets under these conditions.  So you could realize that nothing you want – nothing you think you need – could be worth the continued suffering of these children.  And yes, I keep talking about children.  Because your crime is against a child.  And almost 90% of sex workers are children.  Underage kids.  I hope that helps you understand how hard it is for me to believe that you “didn’t know” she was a child.

“You will be attending the Stopping Sexual Exploitation classes, as ordered by the court, and I will monitor your compliance.  You will hear again some of the things that I am telling you now. And I hope it enters your heart.  I hope it helps you to become the man you pretend to be, the one you think you are.  The one who would never again consider sexually exploiting a vulnerable child – who would feel sick at the thought of it, like the rest of us do.”