Human trafficking experts said that thousands of human trafficking cases go unreported each year.
Four people were indicted in connection with human trafficking on Wednesday. The four cases were the first of their kind in Franklin County.
Richard Evans, 55, Mara Morrison, 21, Roger Rider, 29, and Craig Tackett, 21, appeared before a judge on Wednesday, accused of human trafficking, kidnapping and promoting prostitution.
Evans, Rider and Tackett also were charged with rape.
Experts said that they were able to bring charges against the four because a 24-year-old victim was able to escape, something that many victims are not able to do.
“We often see that they’re friends, right up until the time that she’s being victimized,” said Lt. Mark Lang of the Columbus Division of Police.
Detectives said that the unidentified 24-year-old woman from Chillicothe was lured to Columbus under the guise of partying for the evening.
Prosecutors said that the four forced the woman to work as a prostitute at several Columbus motels from October through December.
“These guys really have control over these women, whether they are using physical force, whether they are using drugs or just manipulating their minds,” Lang said.
Celia Williamson released a new report called “Domestic Sex Trafficking in Ohio.” Her report finds that thousands of human trafficking cases go unreported each year.
“I think it’s very difficult to obtain credible witnesses,” Williamson said. “I think a lot of times, we discount the voices of people who are vulnerable and invisible.”
Human trafficking experts said that law enforcement and the community has to get out of the mindset that human trafficking crimes only occur on city streets and back alleys.
The vast majority of victims report trading in sex in customers’ homes and officers and even at hourly motels and truck stops.
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