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The death last month of accused trafficker Jeffrey Epstein is just a public example of how justice is delayed, or nonexistent, for victims of human trafficking, advocates say. No form of justice could satisfy most victims of human sex trafficking, local victims advocates say. The Aug. This comes after he dodged a long prison sentence a decade ago, despite an abundance of evidence showing he abused girls at his Palm Beach mansion.
It's hard to know how many human trafficking cases are prosecuted in New Jersey because alleged traffickers might be arrested for other crimes like sexual assault or organized crime. Some victims often don't see themselves as victims. Though reports of the crime are on the rise across New Jersey, the scope of human sex trafficking is unknown. One of the most recently prosecuted cases in the Burlington County was in April , when Christopher White, 20, of Eastampton, pleaded guilty to charges of human trafficking and prostitution of a year-old girl in He was indicted along with Adria Regn, 28, of Mount Holly, who authorities said was his girlfriend at the time.
While human trafficking has many forms — international, domestic, sex, labor — it is defined as labor or sex induced by force, fraud or coercion or if the victim is under In , cases of human trafficking were reported in New Jersey, up from 73 in , according to national human trafficking organization The Polaris Project, which pulls statistics from the National Human Trafficking Hotline. New Jersey ranked 14th nationwide in its number of reported cases last year.
Some of the same factors that make New Jersey a unique place to live — ethnic diversity, multiple major highways and railways crossing through the state, and tourist attractions like the Jersey Shore — also make it vulnerable to human trafficking, according to experts.
Numbers show that awareness of the crime is on the rise, but the true nature and number of cases are further obscured by a complex web of emotional, social and legal barriers that prevent victims from reporting crimes and make it tough for law enforcement to prosecute them, experts say.