GA ballot measure would create first fund for human trafficking victims

One of the resolutions on the Georgia ballot would create a fund to help sex-trafficking-victims in the state.

One of the resolutions on the Georgia ballot would create a fund to help sex-trafficking-victims in the state.

One attorney says he's not against creating the fund.

Carey Wiggins says his opposition is to who would contribute the money though. He says the resolution lumps legal businesses in with criminals.

One Whitfield County ministry says the money is critical to victim's safety.

Pamela Cudd works with sex trafficking victims through her ministry City of Refuge.

One of the women who has had the biggest impact on her life was sexually exploited at the age of three.

"She was caged like an animal and was trafficked all these years," Cudd said.

That woman is now 30 years old. She is one of 63 on a waiting list for a safe place to live in Northwest Georgia..

Cudd says, "We have a 12 year old who has been trafficked for about six years of her life."

Many voters at the polls Thursday supported Cudd's plan to build the first safe house outside of metro Atlanta for victims in Northwest Geogia.

Cudd says the Resolution 7 could help her open her safe house by 2017.

"We are working on a facility that will allow us to house 26 women," she said.

State Senator Charlie Bethel explains that if passed fines paid by those convicted of sex trafficking crimes would create the Safe Harbor Fund.

But criminals wouldn't be the only people paying up.

"There's pretty strong evidence that the sex trade runs parallel to the legal adult entertainment industries," Bethel said.

The measure would require annual assessments of strip clubs at the business's expense.

NewsChannel 9 asked, why combine the fine on criminals with fees on a legal business?

Bethel said, "I think there is a natural tie in to say that this sort of behavior- this sort of activity opens up doors to illegal behavior."

Attorney Carey Wiggins says lawmakers are unfairly targeting legal establishments.

He says there is no evidence linking strip clubs to sex trafficking any more than other businesses.

Some club owners have already reached out to him with concerns. He says if the measure passes, he may contest it on their behalf.

The resolution would create a commission that would then decide where to disburse the money.

Legislators estimate the Safe Harbor Fund would have about two-million-dollars, by the first of the year.

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