Prosecutors say new Hawaii sex trafficking law unnecessary - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Prosecutors say new Hawaii sex trafficking law unnecessary

"Robyn" "Robyn"
Dennis Dunn Dennis Dunn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A legal debate on prostitution is under way as a plan to crack down on sex traffickers is one signature away from becoming law. But the bill, awaiting the governor's approval isn't popular with prosecutors.

We've hidden her face and altered her voice in order to protect her identity. For a span of three months, 19-year old "Robyn" was lured into turning tricks on the street.

"I was raised in a good family, I went to church, I went to school, graduated high school with honors, and five scholarships to any school I wanted to go to" said "Robyn".

After meeting a man on the internet, on what was supposed to be a friendly encounter, she found herself being forced in to a life of prostitution.

"I felt safe at the time and one day everything changed. He turned on me, like changed into a monster, you know."

A monster that would eventually force "Robyn" into the very dangerous world of sex trafficking.

"I had to see a gun every night when I went back to the place that I stayed at, then I couldn't do nothing else" she said.

Along with the fear came the golden handcuffs.

"There was a lot of money out there, I probably took in about 500 dollars to 1000 dollars a night

"My life was at risk every night, I didn't know what was going to happen."

But what was certain was that there was nowhere for her to turn.

"It was a numbing experience, I mean, I had to numb all my feelings, I had to numb everything that I knew, I just had to forget me for a while."

Now Hawaii is on the verge of a new law meant to protect victims like "Robyn". Senate Bill 2045 would create new charges specifically against sex traffickers. That would include pimps, madams, recruiters, even owners of massage parlors, and strip clubs.

The key factor.. Is whether the sex worker is enticed, tricked, or coerced into the act. The bill is now sitting on the governor's desk, but the prosecutor's office says it's unnecessary.

"Our position is essentially we can improve the existing statutes, there's no need to have a specific statute and because it's going to overlap with existing statutes, it makes things more complicated" said Dennis Dunn of the prosecutor's office.

It makes it more complicated especially in court, where you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone committed a crime.

"That's our basic objection and concern here is that this would require us to prove additional elements in every case that are not required currently under the existing statute so our prosecutor's would have to prove under a reasonable doubt at least three additional elements."

It would also allow the attorney general to enact a statewide witness program, protecting witnesses, especially in ongoing court cases.

It would also allow the attorney general to enact a statewide witness program, protecting witnesses, especially in ongoing court cases.

"Robyn" never had that benefit.

"I'm scared to go out anywhere cause I'm scared I might bump into him, I don't know what's going to happen, I just pray to God that that day never comes."

Dunn also points out that part of shutting down the sex trafficking industry has nothing to do with legislation but about educating law enforcement and the public.

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