Sen. Mark Obenshain statement on human trafficking conviction
Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) released the following statement in response to the Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s announcement on Friday regarding its prosecution and conviction of a human trafficking case. The conviction is a result of Obenshain’s SB 1188 during the 2015 General Assembly session, which created the first ever standalone sex trafficking statute in the Commonwealth.
Obenshain stated “I am pleased to see justice was served today in the human trafficking case in Albemarle. I commend the Albemarle County Police, Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci and federal agencies for all their time and dedication in prosecuting this case.”
“Sex trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal enterprise in the country, and it is not just a problem confined to the remote corners of the globe; it is a problem here in Virginia. With the new law, we now have strong tools to combat this brutal crime like they did in Albemarle. I was proud to have been the Senate patron on this effort, finally giving Virginia a stand-alone sex trafficking statute,” Obenshain continued.
SB 1188 specifically criminalized child sex trafficking as a Class 3 felony without requiring prosecutors prove that force, intimidation or deception was used to cause the minor to engage in commercial sexual conduct given the way that traffickers recruit minors preying on their vulnerability and trust. Additionally, the bill clearly defined and established the offense of sex trafficking, established penalties that reflect the seriousness of the offense, assisted in protecting and properly identifying sex trafficking victims, and closed a loophole in Virginia’s existing laws by criminalizing the recruitment of minors and adults for commercial sex—conduct which was not criminalized under Virginia law.
SB1188 was passed during the 2015 General Assembly session and was signed into law by the Governor on March 27, 2015. Delegate Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax) carried the House version of the legislation. The bill and its history may be viewed here. The media advisory from the Albermarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney follows below this release.
Senator Obenshain represents the 26th District in the Virginia Senate. The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page, Rappahannock and Rockingham (part). He is Chair of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and is Vice-Chair of the Virginia State Crime Commission.