Sex Trafficking Allegations Raise Concerns On Prevalence In SD

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An allegation of sex trafficking in Mitchell has raised concern of how common it is in KELOLAND.

Walter Jandreau and Timothy Bingham face federal charges. 

They’re accused of forcing a girl under the age of 18 to take part in a commercial sex act in July.

Spreading awareness, that what members of Call to Freedom and the Compass Center hope happens with the latest allegation of sex trafficking in KELOLAND.

“Sex trafficking is happening here in South Dakota. I’m glad to see we’re identifying it, and we’re bringing those to justice who are doing the perpetrating,” Becky Rassmussen said.

“I’m happy to see that law enforcement was able to catch these individuals and go from there,” Michelle Trent said.

Michelle Trent is the assistant director at the Compass Center. She says this crime happens more than you think.

“Human trafficking happens across the country. It happens in big towns. It happens in small towns,” Trent said.

Call to Freedom Executive Director Becky Rassmussen says sex traffickers look for vulnerable people.

“It could be homelessness. It could be somebody who’s in the midst of an addiction, so they’ll feed their addiction and pull them into sex trafficking,” Rassmussen said.

Rasmussen says perpetrators also look for vulnerability in legislation.

“If they can find a gap in the law, they will actually utilize that,” Rasmussen said. 

Both women say communities need to be more aware.

“This crime thrives in the dark. Part of how we combat it is that we don’t let it be in the dark. We don’t let this kind of thing happen and just kind of turn a blind eye to them,” Trent said.

“Victims do not actually come forth and self-identify. So, It’s up to our community to learn the signs, understand how to identify human trafficking and then make the call and report it,” Rassmussen said.

Both women say if you see something suspicious to call 911 or Crime Stoppers. If you are trying to get help with a human trafficking situation, they say to contact their organizations.

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