Kentucky Bar Foundation Supports Training of Attorneys Seeking Justice for Human Trafficking Victims

In 2015, the Kentucky Bar Foundation proudly awarded a grant of $20,000 to the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs statewide for the production of “Seeking Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking: A Practice Guide & Training Series for Attorneys.”

Founded in 1990, the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs (“KASAP”) KASAP is the coalition of Kentucky’s thirteen Rape Crisis Centers and serves as a central point of contact on sexual violence issues across the Commonwealth.  It provides technical assistance to member programs and other professionals, advocates for improvements in public policy, fosters coalition building among members and those with common concerns, and promotes prevention and public awareness regarding sexual violence and related issues. 

The Kentucky Bar Foundation was proud to award a 2015 grant of $20,000 to KASAP for the production of “Seeking Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking: A Practice Guide & Training Series for Attorneys.”  Human trafficking, or modern day slavery, refers to the exploitation of men, women, and children for purposes of forced labor or commercial sex.  Since 2007, Kentucky law has made it a crime to exploit an individual in human trafficking, and in 2013, Kentucky joined a handful of states in broadening protections for child victims of trafficking.  The Kentucky Human Trafficking Victims Rights Act changed the paradigm to ensure that all youth under age 18 who are exploited in commercial sex (stripping, pornography, or prostitution) receive appropriate child welfare services rather than face arrest and detention in the juvenile justice system.  It has been recognized by policy experts as the most comprehensive “safe harbor” law for child victims in the nation.

Despite these great legislative strides, not all judges, guardians ad litem, public defenders, prosecutors, and family law attorneys are aware of the protections that Kentucky law affords to victims of human trafficking. This is made all the more urgent by the latest report of the Department of Community Based Services to the Legislative Research Commission, which indicates that the Department received 96 reports of children being trafficked across Kentucky. 

The funding from the Kentucky Bar Foundation could not have come at a better time.  Just as KASAP attorneys Gretchen Hunt and Priya Koul began work on a comprehensive attorney guide on human trafficking, Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton, Jr., legislative staff, and members of the Administrative Office of the Courts attended a convening of state courts on human trafficking in New York.  When they returned to Kentucky, Chief Justice Minton reached out to KASAP to collaborate in addressing human trafficking statewide, stating that “we need to breathe life into this law.” 

KASAP worked with the Chief Justice and other key partners to present three training seminars in each of Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, and Covington in the summer of 2016, which were attended by attorneys and advocates from across Kentucky.  The Practice Guide funded by the Kentucky Bar Foundation was debuted at these trainings to provide attendees with a framework to comprehensively serve victims of human trafficking.  Due to the critical focus of the Bar Foundation on this emerging issue, Kentucky’s statewide response to human trafficking will grow and no doubt have a lasting positive impact on the lives of countless men, women, and children across the Commonwealth.

Pictured below are attorneys Gretchen Hunt, Priya Koul, and Laela Kashan, who worked to prepare the Practice Guide and present the training seminars.  Koul is also pictured talking with an attendee at the seminar in Elizabethtown.

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