Victim or predator?
As “the right hand associated with the company,” Kagay said, Zeferjohn had been accountable for “recruiting, distinguishing goals, finding and wanting to earn their trust” for Long’s sex company.
“She needed to be held accountable,” Kagay stated. “She earnestly recruited and permitted children that are minor be sexually abused, to be prostituted.”
That kind of part just isn’t unusual, stated Yazmin Vafa, co-founder and director that is executive of, a person liberties team that is targeted on gender-based violence.
Vafa stated Zeferjohn served as what’s called a “bottom girl,” a term accustomed describe women that are“young ascend to a situation of energy and generally are near the top of the exploitation hierarchy, where they usually are relied upon because of the trafficker to say purchase and authority on the list of other young ladies who are increasingly being victimized.”
Kagay stated the Shawnee County District Attorney’s workplace had been fair to Zeferjohn given that she victimized at the very least two other girls, minors have been perhaps maybe perhaps not faced with crimes.
Prosecutors dropped nine regarding the 10 felonies and two misdemeanors she initially encountered and Zeferjohn assisted in australian girls Long’s prosecution. She finally pleaded responsible to at least one charge of aggravated trafficking that is human. That aided reduce her phrase from a potential fifteen years in jail to almost six years, Kagay stated.
Zeferjohn additionally had been sentenced to jail time because one of many victims asked that she be incarcerated, Kagay stated.
“I do not have question that between your two of those, Anthony longer is more culpable and then he additionally paid a greater cost,” Kagay stated.
If he’s ever released from jail, Long must register as being an intercourse offender for 25 years. Included in her phrase, Zeferjohn will invest an eternity from the registry.
“I think you began as a target in this instance,” District Judge David Debenham told Zeferjohn as he sentenced her in August 2017, merely a day or two after she turned 19.
“You crossed the line,” Debenham said, “at some stage.”
’You deserve everything you get’
Since 2000, federal plus some state regulations have actually specified that anybody under 18 whom executes a commercial intercourse work is recognized as a target of intercourse trafficking. But advocates for intimately abused girls nevertheless face a “cultural battle,” Vafa stated. Advocates’ rallying cry is: “There’s no such thing as a kid prostitute.”
“So many of the young girls we cope with on a basis that is day-to-day actually regarded as bad girls, or complicit into the exploitation they’re experiencing,” Vafa said. “There’s nevertheless an excellent number of victim-blaming taking place.”
That’s the bias at play in Zeferjohn’s instance and 12 other instances in Kansas, stated Karen Countryman-Roswurm, manager of this Center for combating trafficking that is human that provides education, training and technical help survivors. The girls had been runaways from the Kansas Department for kids and Families or even the justice that is juvenile, finished up underneath the control of intercourse traffickers, then were charged as crooks once they had been really victims, she stated.
In interviews with KCUR, three of these ladies stated their experiences had been much like Zeferjohn’s. Sooner or later in their progression through the foster care and unlawful systems, social employees and police officers switched on them, they stated, talking from the condition which they wouldn’t be identified.
“I’m still considered to be a perpetrator,” said one, a 17-year-old woman whom has been doing and from the juvenile justice system since she ended up being 10. “I’m nevertheless considered my (criminal) cost. Also it’s difficult to place your self for the reason that target environment when everybody’s pushing one to ‘You’re a perpetrator and also you deserve everything you get.’”
An analysis associated with the Kansas Public Offender Registry by APM Reports demonstrates that convictions of girls in situations like Zeferjohn’s are incredibly unusual. Overview of Shawnee County District Attorney data which range from 2015 to March 2019 implies that Zeferjohn ended up being the person that is only and convicted for trafficking in that county.
Although not all juvenile offenders show up on the intercourse offender enrollment internet site, because Kansas legislation enables a judge, in certain instances, to help keep a case that is minor’s being made general public. The Kansas Sentencing Commission claims trafficking that is human, whether for guys or females, whether minors or grownups, have been in the solitary digits and so are usually pleaded right down to other crimes.
Countryman-Roswurm stated girls like Zeferjohn fight when you look at the appropriate system because of stereotypes about victims of intercourse crimes. As opposed to being beaten-down young girls whom welcome rescue from police force, she explained, the stark reality is that some girls mature in tough surroundings and don’t affix to anybody as a result of therefore much mistreatment. So these girls – she prefers “survivors” – take close control of the circumstances and appear hardened. They usually have a “streetness,” she said, that produces them turn to first-responders just as if they truly are perpetrators.
“In trafficking, element of that life style all together, you don’t simply stay static in the part for the misbranded victim that is perfect-worthy” Countryman-Roswurm stated.
Whenever those girls have prepared through the justice that is criminal, advocates said, prosecutors usually provide plea bargains simply because they don’t would you like to spend enough time and cost of using their situations to test. Solicitors, household members or other people convince survivors to plead accountable to lower costs in order to prevent the possibility of prison time if their instances do visit test, Countryman-Roswurm said.
“The best injustice in the usa is (being) poor, lower-class,” she claims. “You’ve experienced custody and also you just take a plea.”
2nd shot at a pardon
In May 2015, then-Gov. Brownback, a Republican, ended up being making use of their photo op with Hope Zeferjohn’s family members to tout a 7% upsurge in reunification of families to “a safe and loving house,” as a DCF news launch stated.
KVC Kansas, the foster care specialist to DCF, also released a news launch utilizing the Zeferjohns’ image. The agency quoted certainly one of its social employees saying reunification regarding the family members “promotes stability within the child’s life and eases the responsibility on the state to look after them.”
The request a grouped family members when it comes to occasion originated in Brownback’s office, said Jenny Kutz, a spokeswoman for KVC Kansas, and KVC find the Zeferjohn household.
“We find the household since they came across the requirements of recently reunified and so they could actually take part in the picture inside the brief notice given,” she said.
But things quickly came back towards the real method they constantly was in fact during the Zeferjohn house, and within 6 months the kids had been back foster care, Kelly stated. Kutz will never comment, citing a privacy law that is federal.
Brownback resigned in 2018 to simply take work into the Trump management, serving as ambassador for religious freedom. He declined remark with this tale. Their successor, previous Gov. Jeff Colyer, rejected Zeferjohn’s very first request clemency this past year, Kansas Department of Corrections records reveal. Colyer additionally declined to comment.
Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, stated she’s considering Zeferjohn’s brand new request a pardon.
“The tale of Hope Zeferjohn is just a unfortunate one,” Kelly stated in a declaration to KCUR plus the Topeka Capital-Journal. “i am going to start thinking about every clemency demand we receive after the full procedure of developing facts sufficient reason for input from those impacted, but more to the point our state has a structural unlawful justice issue that has to be addressed.”
Zeferjohn deserves a pardon because she ended up being forced “to do stuff that would otherwise be unimaginable for your requirements and I also,” said her attorney, Vicki Smith. “She ended up being a young child. She ended up being a target. That is merely a matter of peoples justice.”
Countryman-Roswurm, pro bono solicitors as well as other advocates may also be attempting to work in the system that is legal resolve the appropriate dilemmas for the 12 other ladies who have actually instances much like Zeferjohn’s.
Efforts to alter state guidelines are underway during the Kansas Legislature. A year ago, two bills had been introduced that call for putting away beliefs and documents in hopes of assisting young survivors for the intercourse trade. The bills got stuck in committee, stated Benet Magnuson of Kansas Appleseed, a nonprofit social justice team, but advocates desire to bring them up once more this season.
Expected in the event that agency did adequate to assist girls like Hope, DCF Secretary Laura Howard?? said in a declaration that constant and improved efforts are expected to avoid and minimize individual trafficking, recuperate runaway kids, link families and keep young ones safe.