CHILDREN AT RISK’s Public Policy and Law Center has engaged in an exciting new partnership with the Harris County Attorney’s Office. Working with Linda Geffin, Chief of the Special Prosecutions Unit, our staff attorneys have been helping to train pro bono volunteers in the use of civil law to shut down illegally run sexually oriented businesses. These businesses play a large role in providing venues for human trafficking, and the greater Houston area is home to hundreds of them. They operate clandestinely, without any sort of licensure, and are so numerous that they make criminal investigation difficult in the face of limited resources. The use of civil remedies and pro bono assistance greatly expands on the County’s ability to investigate and shut down more of these fronts for trafficking.
In advancing this effort, one of CHILDREN AT RISK’s partner law firms, Greenberg Traurig, kindly hosted a packed training earlier this month in which volunteer attorneys learned about the process of using a civil suit to shut down an illegally operated business. Attendees heard from the Harris County Attorney, Vince Ryan, Linda Geffin, CHILDREN AT RISK staff attorneys, the Sheriff’s Office, the Fire Marshall’s Office and the Regulatory Enforcement Unit of the Harris County Constable’s Office, all of whom are combining efforts to investigate, build cases, and bring suit against massage parlors, tea houses, model studios and other venues in which human trafficking takes place. CHILDREN AT RISK will assist with the coordination of this effort and our five summer law fellows will be taking their own cases, working with the Harris County Attorney’s Office in an effort to shut down a number of illicitly run sexually oriented businesses.
If you are interested in learning more, or know of any volunteers who might like to be involved, please contact R.J. Hazeltine-Shedd at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.