Advocacy groups working to help teens trapped in Bay Area prostitution

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Officials said the ongoing Oakland Police Department scandal investigation is negatively affecting outreach to sex trafficking victims in the city. (KGO-TV)

The police sex scandal is a big setback to the many advocacy groups working in Oakland to help victims of sex trafficking.

As many can imaging it's really difficult for those who work with exploited sex trafficking victims out in the streets in Oakland.

So, who do you tell them to trust, if they don't trust the police? "It really does rock the trust and confidence a victim would have in the system and we are working very hard to make sure that we isolate those that have engaged in bad behavior and keep kids and other people safe," Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said.

O'Malley spoke out for the first time since last week when the sex scandal at Oakland Police Department blew up over damning allegations of contact with an underage prostitute. The officers may face charges. "Statutory rape from when she was a minor, one of them is engaging in commercial sex and paying for it, one of them is color of authority," she said.

The ongoing investigation is negatively affecting outreach to sex trafficking victims in Oakland and beyond.

When asked can victims on the street trust the police following the scandal, sex trafficking survivor Venus Morris said, "No, there's no way we can trust the police because that means I can't come to you in confidence and know that I'm safe."

"We know we can't go to law enforcement because they're also going to exploit us and be inappropriate with us and it's almost like sitting in that danger that we're already in is the safest place to be," Shade Project spokesperson Sarai Smith said.

When asked has the Oakland Police Department scandal undermine efforts to help sex trafficking victims, Smith said: "Definitely. We have to be really careful when we sit there and say if you need help law enforcement will help you."

Now, advocacy groups are re-doubling their efforts to reach out to teens trapped in prostitution in Oakland and around the Bay Area.
Related Topics:
OPDcrimesex crimeHuman TraffickingwomenOakland
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