January has been designated as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and KGVO’s Talk Back show featured two special guests to discuss the issue on Tuesday.

Missoula Police Detective Guy Baker and UM Clinical Assistant Professor of Social Work Kat Werner brought their experience and knowledge of the subject for a 90 minute discussion.

After describing how easily young girls can be lured into the world of sex trafficking, JJ, who described herself as a grandmother, related her experience of rescuing her 15 year-old granddaughter from a sex trafficker in Boise, Idaho.

“The girl said my granddaughter was here until a half an hour ago, but she went down to the bus station to meet a guy that’s going to talk to her about a modeling job,” said JJ. “I told her there’s trafficking going on here, so call the police, call the bus station and tell them to hold all the buses, and by the way, where’s the bus station?”

JJ said she arrived quite literally in the nick of time to save her granddaughter.

“We went to the bus station and my granddaughter had her foot on the first step of the bus and there was a creepy looking guy standing beside her,” she said. “I screamed across the parking lot to get over here. She said ‘Grandma, what are you doing here in Boise?’, and I said 'I came to get you, so get over here!’

Detective Baker outlined the penalties for someone convicted of aggravated promotion of prostitution, which can be from five to 10 years in prison, and then addressed the penalties for child sex trafficking.

“If you’re trafficking someone that’s 12 or younger, that’s a 50 year prison term in Montana,” said Baker. “That bill was strengthened through House Bill 189 a couple of sessions ago. The trafficking laws in Montana have been improved. As far as federal law goes, if you’re trafficking a minor, someone who is 17 or younger, the first offense is seven to 10 years, but the second offense is life in prison.”

Baker also referenced the continuing search for a missing Native American woman, Jermain Austin Charlo.

“In the case that I’ve been working for the last seven months, many agencies including the Missoula Police Department, we’ve worked well together and we’ve probably expended over 2,000 man hours of state and federal resources trying to find Jermain Charlo.”

On February 5, the Roxy Theater will be showing the documentary ‘California’s Forgotten Children’, a documentary about child sex trafficking and exploitation of children in California.

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