- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Dumbfounded that Nevada law does not consider people who cart around the perpetrators of sex tourism as sex traffickers themselves, one trafficking survivor asked legislators Tuesday to extend strict penalties to the people who market and connect the illicit industry.

Kimberly Mull told the Senate Judiciary Committee that first she was pulled in to child pornography, and people traded photos of her underground before they began trading her. One person traveled across the country to “meet” her at age 13. She knew of children who were shipped off to sex events, and offenders who traveled to them.

That requires coordination, she said.

“Not every member of these groups physically rapes you; some, they just watch; others bring their own children so they can watch; some facilitate, organize and transport,” Mull said, later adding, “Those who facilitate, advertise, make arrangements for victims are more than bystanders, they are traffickers.”

Anyone who knowingly takes people to illegal prostitution rings or to watch child pornography in Nevada could be convicted of sex trafficking under Senate Bill 488.

Airline providers and victims’ advocates spoke in support of the measure.

Opponents argued that increasing trafficking penalties and subjecting facilitators to at least 20 years in prison, as proposed, is unfair.

Federal laws banning people from organizing sex trades primarily apply to pimps. Mull and Sen. Pat Spearman, a North Las Vegas Democrat, said the people who drive offenders, arrange flights, set up chat rooms or otherwise enable the trade can fall through legal cracks.

Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, New York and Washington have applied trafficking laws specifically to facilitators, Mull said.

“Many people continue to believe that sex tourism only exploits children and victims overseas, but it is fueling demand for children and victims here in the United States,” she said.

The bill is among several measures this session aimed at reining in illegal prostitution in a state that licenses brothels in rural areas.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, a Las Vegas Republican, has proposed giving cities and counties the explicit authority to shut down hotels where prostitution arrests are repeatedly made. In another bill, Hambrick proposes that courts assume minors acted in self-defense if they physically attack their pimps or someone who repeatedly assaults.

Assembly committees on judiciary and government affairs heard Hambrick’s bills in early March, but have not scheduled them for votes. If the committees take no action before a Friday-night deadline, Assembly Bills 216 and 217 will die.

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