Human trafficking in Pennsylvania / Author Nathaniel Philbrick


What to look for on Smart Talk, Thursday, July 18, 2019:

Financier Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest on sex trafficking charges has reignited a debate over a 2008 plea deal in which he received immunity from federal prosecution in exchange for pleading guilty to state prostitution charges. The political fallout has been in the spotlight as Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, who was the prosecutor that signed off on the 2008 deal, resigned amid a public furor at what was viewed as an overly lenient agreement.

What has received less attention, however, is the underlying issue of human trafficking, which is prevalent nationwide and in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which people profit by exploiting others using fraud, force, or coercion to manipulate victims into committing sex acts or labor. The victims are often children; any situation with a minor that involves elements of prostitution is a form of human trafficking. Frequently, human trafficking becomes intertwined with drug addiction, a particular problem given the ongoing opioid crisis.

Nearly 200 cases of human trafficking in Pennsylvania were reported to a hotline in 2018, but, since the Commonwealth passed a comprehensive human trafficking law in 2014, fewer than 50 people have been convicted or have convictions pending. Appearing on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss the scope and impact of the problem in Pennsylvania is Shea Rhodes, director of the Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, and Susan Mathias, CEO of Transitions of PA.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also text 233733 (text “HELP” or “INFO”).

Also, George Washington is known as America’s first great general, leading the Continental Army to decisive victories at places like Trenton and Princeton. In a new book, historian Nathaniel Philbrick argues that the fate of the American Revolution rested on Washington’s ability to coordinate with the French Navy at sea. Philbrick joins Smart Talk to discuss his latest book In the Hurricane’s Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown.