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Iowa Man Sentenced to Life for Sex Trafficking

It’s my privilege to write to you at the start of 2022 and to announce major events to launch Iowa’s observance of “Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month”. We invite you to join the Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery (NAHT) for these events and thereby join the movement to end human trafficking in Iowa. Click a link below to jump to a particular article or scroll down to read the whole blog post.

Governor’s Proclamation Declaring January 2022 Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

New Year 2022 greetings to our Iowa NAHT blog subscribers. Worldwide there are at least 40.5 million people trafficked and enslaved. Globally, one in four of these exploited and abused souls are under the age of 18.

So how can you as an individual help in the fight against human trafficking and slavery? As a first step, you can educate yourself about modern-day slavery and help others to become aware of this growing crime. You can insist that businesses check their supply chains for slavery-produced goods. January 2022 is an especially good time to learn the facts about trafficking. In recognition of Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, there are numerous Iowa events and training opportunities. These events are and can be found in this blog post.

You can also donate funds to anti-trafficking organizations such as the Iowa NAHT. If you go to https://iowanaht.org/donate-now/ your gift to the Network can be completed quickly using your credit card or PayPal.

You can also urge your state representatives to propose and/or strengthen anti-trafficking laws. Tap here for the anti-trafficking legislative priorities for 2022 (PDF). Speaking to your local legislators gives you a great opportunity to join forces with the NAHT board and other allies from across Iowa to improve public policy. A good day to visit with your Iowa Representative and Senator would be Thursday, January 13th which is NAHT Day at the legislature.

Iowa Capitol Building in the winterThat day, the NAHT will host the public signing of a proclamation by Governor Kim Reynolds designating January 2022 as Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The proclamation signing will take place on Thursday, January 13th at 11:00 a.m. in the Rotunda of the State Capitol Building in Des Moines. Due to the risk of Covid-19 infection, all anti-trafficking advocates attending this annual event must wear masks.

Outstanding Anti-Trafficking Service Awards will also be presented by the NAHT and Governor on January 13 immediately following the proclamation signing. These five exceptional Iowa anti-trafficking heroes and organizations include:

  • Max Christensen and the Iowa Department of Education School Transportation Office. In the fall of 2018, Iowa became the nation’s first state to require training about human trafficking for its school bus drivers. Max Christensen is the Executive Officer of School Transportation at the Iowa Department of Education. He led this effort that resulted in all 9,000 of Iowa school bus drivers now being trained.
  • Tri-State Coalition Against Human Trafficking is a faith-based collaborative effort based in Dubuque, Iowa, and is fighting human trafficking in a portion of 3 states. Countless volunteer hours have been dedicated to community , in-school student education, hotel/motel training, anti-trafficking public policy, training of rural , and advocacy for survivors.
  • Kim Hilby is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Dubuque who led the research and writing of a first-ever Best Practice Guidelines for services to adult survivors. At the University, she has developed and teaches classes on human trafficking. She serves as one of the leaders of the Tri-State Coalition and represents them on the Network Board of Directors.
  • Lenchen Raeside is an extraordinary community volunteer and philanthropist who has been fighting human trafficking in Iowa long before many even knew it existed. She founded Cedar Rapid Gives which merged with Sisters and Brothers Collaborating Against Human Trafficking as led by Teresa Davidson to jointly found Chains Interrupted. To this day, Lenchen tirelessly works behind the scenes to grow and nurture the agency into one of Iowa’s leading survivor service nonprofit providers.
  • NAHT Hotel/Motel Employee Training Production Team. Governor Reynolds signed into law a bill that requires all hotels and motels who do business with the State of Iowa to train their employees on how to recognize trafficking. This team of volunteers offered to produce an employee training video for the Iowa Department of Public Safety. This 12-member team completed this state-of-the-art training video late last year. The law went into effect on January 1st, 2022, and is being used to train employees in many of Iowa’s 3,000 hotels and motels statewide (see below for more information).

Tuesday, January 11th is Wear Blue Day

Wear Blue DayOn Tuesday, January 11th we ask that you wear blue to show your support for human trafficking awareness. The color blue is the international color of human trafficking awareness. The created this initiative to draw attention to this horrific crime. The NAHT is asking all anti-trafficking advocates to wear blue clothing in order to increase awareness. We also ask you to encourage your friends, classmates, and family to participate and share pictures of you wearing blue on with the #WearBlueDay hashtag. You can find more information about this here: https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/wearblueday

Hotel/Motel Employee Trafficking Training

A Hotel/Motel training page is now live on the Networks website. You can see it directly at https://iowanaht.org/hotel-training/ and/or get to it in the dropdown under the Resources menu link in the top navigation. There you can access the Hotel/Motel Employee Training Video and numerous educational materials.

If you are a business leader and would like the NAHT to offer face-to-face and/or hybrid training of your staff at your facility, please contact local Anti-Trafficking Coalition leaders in your area or any of our current NAHT Board members. You may also email Dr. Joe at [email protected] for more information or with questions.

Biden Recognizes Human Trafficking Prevention Month

President Joe Biden, in acknowledgment of January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, said his administration will do all in its power to combat “a profoundly immoral crime that strikes at the safety, health, and dignity of millions of people worldwide.”

“We reaffirm our commitment to protect and empower survivors of all forms of human trafficking, to prosecute traffickers, and to bring an end to human trafficking in the United States and around the world,” Biden said in a statement.

“My administration is committed to stopping human trafficking wherever it occurs,” the president added. “We released the updated National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, a government approach to combating human trafficking in the United States and abroad.”

“During National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, let us resolve to counter injustice and fortify our commitment to pursue dignity and freedom for all people,” the president said. “I call upon businesses, civil society organizations, communities of faith, families, and all Americans to recognize the vital role we play in combating human trafficking and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities aimed at preventing all forms of human trafficking.” To read more about the President’s statement, tap here.

Iowa Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Multiple Sex Trafficking Charges

(Thanks to the DSM Register for this information.)

They were physically and verbally abused, forced to have sex with strangers, and strung out with drugs or threats to their families. Three have died since.

For more than a dozen women, meeting Marlin Thomas was the beginning of a hellish ordeal. At his sentencing hearing on November 15th, 2021 in federal court in Des Moines, Judge John Jarvey heard from several of the women and their family members about the abuse he put them through and how it affected their lives.

“You intentionally groomed and took the innocence of so many,” one woman, identified in court as B.T., wrote in a statement read by an investigator. “We will never get that back.”

Thomas, 46, of Des Moines, was sentenced on November 15th, 2021, to life in prison after admitting to trafficking and drug charges involving six women and a 14-year-old girl. Des Moines Police Sgt. Brady Carney, the lead investigator in the case, testified he had identified at least 10 more women who had declined to take part in the investigation, which covered nearly a decade of criminal activity from 2009 to 2018. The true number, Carney said, could be even higher. To continue reading this article, tap here (PDF).

Iowa Training on January 20th at 6:30 pm on Trauma-Informed Care

Free Anti-Trafficking training is being offered on Trauma-Informed Care on Thursday, January 20th by Central Iowa Network Against Trafficking and the Plymouth Human Trafficking Task Force, and Terry Forliti is the trainer. Terry Forliti is the Executive Director of “Breaking Free”, a treatment program in St. Paul that treats between 150 to 200 trafficking survivors each year using the trauma-informed approach.

On January 20 you will learn what human trafficking is and the role that trauma plays. You’ll gain a better understanding of the physical changes that it causes in the brain and how understanding this can help us as a community better support survivors of human trafficking.

This training will be held on January 20th and Plymouth Church, at 4026 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312. Doors open at 6 pm, and the program will begin at 6:30 pm. This will be a hybrid event and the link to the program will be provided to those who are registered.

You can register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/trauma-and-its-role-in-human-trafficking-tickets-230042381957. It will be made public the day of the event. Those who chose to attend in person will be required to wear a mask and social distancing will be enforced. Contact Shirlee Reding ([email protected]) with questions or for additional information.

Many People Worry Human Traffickers May Use Apple AirTag’s to Track People they Control

A new, tiny piece of technology could be tracking you. Human trafficking survivors are sounding the alarm over an Apple product called AirTag. It is a tracking device meant to help you find where you put a personal item, but now, criminals are using them to take advantage of victims. To continue reading, tap here (PDF).

Information, Articles, and Resources

The post Iowa Man Sentenced to Life for Sex Trafficking appeared first on Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery.



This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from its original location.


PBJ Learning is a leading provider of online human trafficking training, focusing on awareness and prevention education. Their interactive Human Trafficking Essentials is being used worldwide to educate professionals and individuals how to recognize human trafficking and how to respond to a potential victim. Their online human trafficking course is available for use on any web browser (even your mobile phone) at any time.

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