In the Media

“The whole notion of sex trafficking is really under review.” Dr. Olivarius Discusses Sean Combs Case In The New York Times


The raids of Sean Combs’s homes in Los Angeles and the Miami area this week raised a barrage of questions about the nature of the inquiry, which a federal official said was at least in part a human trafficking investigation.

The government has said little about the basis for the search warrants, but the raids came after five civil lawsuits were filed against Mr. Combs in recent months that accused him of violating sex trafficking laws. In four of the suits women accused him of rape, and in one a man accused him of unwanted sexual contact (…) As the civil suits against Mr. Combs illustrate, the term human or sex trafficking has a broader meaning in the law than perhaps the more popularly understood image of organized crime and forced prostitution rings.

“Traditionally you think of trafficking as a pimp who has a stable of victims and then is trafficking them in the traditional sense of the word, for money,” said Jim Cole, a former supervisory special agent with Homeland Security Investigations who oversaw human trafficking cases, “but there are lots of forms of trafficking.”

The breadth of trafficking investigations has grown with the recent uptick in sexual abuse claims and the use of the internet by traffickers (…) Plaintiffs’ lawyers have been increasingly turning to state and federal trafficking statutes as a means of possible recourse with the passage of legislation like the Adult Survivors Act in New York, and a similar law in California.

Ann Olivarius, a lawyer who has used such statutes in sexual misconduct lawsuits, said that the influx of such lawsuits will likely lead the courts in the coming years to make decisions as to the proper interpretation of trafficking laws, which she said are relatively untested.

“It’s a young area of the law,” Ms. Olivarius said. “The whole notion of sex trafficking is really under review.”

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