Press Conference Remarks
Remarks by Kids Are Not For Sale in VA Coalition Coordinator, Tabatha Mansfield, at Joint Press Conference on Enactment of Virginia’s First Sex Trafficking Law.
April 15, 2015, 9:00am
Good morning everyone. I’d like to welcome you to our press conference on the enactment of HB 1964 and SB 1188 which establishes Virginia’s first sex trafficking law.
My name is Tabatha Mansfield, and I am the Coalition Coordinator of Kids Are Not For Sale in Virginia.
Implemented by Shared Hope International, the Kids Are Not For Sale in VA Coalition consists of Virginia law enforcement, prosecutors, service providers, advocacy groups, schools, and hospitals who joined together to advocate for the enactment of a sex trafficking law in Virginia. The Coalition was involved in this landmark legislation every step of the way from drafting to enactment.
In addition to prosecutors and law enforcement like Henrico Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, Mike Feinmel, Fairfax County Detective, Bill Woolf, and Newport News Detective, Russell Tinsley, the following groups are part of Coalition:
- Shared Hope International
- Richmond Justice Initiative
- Virginia Beach Justice Initiative
- Regent School of Law Center for Global Justice
- Virginia Trucking Association
- Bon Secours Virginia Health System
- Anastasis International Mission
- Northern Va Human Trafficking Initiative
- Courtney’s House
- Vessels of Mercy International
- The Gray Haven
- Youth for Tomorrow
- Central Virginia Justice Initiative
- Virginia Catholic Conference
- Release Me International (RMI)
- The Family Foundation
- Children’s Advocacy Centers of VA
- Straight Street, and
- AAUW Virginia Beach
On behalf of the Coalition, I would like to thank the Chief Patrons Delegate Hugo and Senator Obenshain for their commitment to this issue and for championing this landmark legislation.
I would also like to thank Delegates Rob Bell and Todd Gilbert for their help in drafting a strong piece of legislation, all the bill patrons for their support, and the members of the General Assembly for voting unanimously to pass this legislation. Finally, I would like to thank the Governor for signing this needed legislation into law.
This law means that Virginia is no longer the only state in the nation without a stand-alone human trafficking law.
This law means that on the effective date of July 1, Virginia prosecutors and law enforcement will no longer have to rely on a patchwork of antiquated law to pursue charges against traffickers.
This law means that sex traffickers will face substantial penalties that reflect the seriousness of their crime, especially for sex trafficking a child.
This law means that more victims will be properly identified.
This law means that the recruitment of children and adults for commercial sex is finally criminalized.
This law means that as legislators, as those on the frontline of this egregious crime, and as citizens of Virginia, we stand together in saying that Kids Are Not For Sale in VA.
About the Coalition
Implemented by Shared Hope International, the Kids Are Not for Sale in Virginia (KANFS) Coalition is a joint effort between prosecutors, law enforcement, service providers, advocacy groups, hospitals, and schools to advocate for the enactment of a sex trafficking law in Virginia.
Virginia’s New Sex Trafficking Law
Prior to the enactment of HB 1964 (Hugo) and SB 1188 (Obenshain), Virginia was the only state in the nation without a human trafficking law. This law will serve as a vital tool for Virginia prosecutors, law enforcement, and service providers, ensuring stronger protections for children and victims, providing substantial penalties for offenders, and helping to deter the migration of the crime to the Commonwealth. The new law will become effective July 1, 2015.
What this legislation does:
- Defines and establishes the offense of sex trafficking,
Provides penalties that reflect the seriousness of a sex trafficking offense,
- Specifically criminalizes child sex trafficking as a Class 3 felony without requiring prosecutors prove that force, fraud, or coercion were used in the offense given the way traffickers who exploit children prey on their vulnerability and trust,
- Assists in protecting and properly identifying sex trafficking victims,
- Closes a loophole in Virginia law by criminalizing the recruitment of minors and adults for commercial sex—conduct which is currently not criminalized in Virginia, and
- Adds sex trafficking as a predicate crime under Virginia’s racketeering and criminal street gang statutes, ensuring that prosecutors and law enforcement can use these laws to combat criminal enterprises that engage in sex trafficking.
- Virginia is the only state in the nation without a standalone human trafficking law.
Thanks for Take Action
Nearly 800 Virginia residents signed onto a letter to Governor McAuliffe urging him to sign HB 1964 and SB 1188 into law! Thank you for making a difference by signing and helping our voices be heard.
In addition to local prosecutors and law enforcement, the following groups are members of the KANFS Coalition:
KANFS Partners Facebook Pages:
The Gray Haven Project + Justice RVA + Courtney’s House + Virginia Beach Justice Initiative + NOVA Human Trafficking Initiative + Vessels of Mercy Intl.+ Youth For Tomorrow + Virginia Trucking Association + The Family Foundation Action + Bon Secours Virginia Health System + Release Me International + Regent University School of Law + AAUW Virginia Beach