sex trafficking

A Kansas woman who was sex trafficked as a minor and later convicted of felony sex crimes should not receive a pardon from Gov. Laura Kelly, a panel says.

At first, they wanted to save her.

Then, after she fled the Kansas foster care system at age 16 and fell victim to the commercial sex trade, social workers told her she was going to prison forever.

"When I went into foster care and they wanted to take me away from my family, I ran," she said. "I ran away, and that's how I really started to get into all of this trouble. After I ran away, that's when they started treating me like, 'Oh, you're a suspect and you're not innocent.'

Hope Joy Zeferjohn was missing from the Kansas Capitol on the day her family was posing for pictures with the governor.

It was May 22, 2015, and then-Gov. Sam Brownback was signing a proclamation for Family Reunification Month.

Zeferjohn’s parents and siblings stood behind him, literal poster children for Brownback’s efforts to return children to their homes from foster care.

Sex traffickers are drawn to vulnerable kids. Young victims are often homeless or runaways, have previously been abused or neglected, or who have at some point been flagged by social service providers. 


A nationwide training program is focused on truck drivers as a means to stop sex trafficking. That training is now taking place in Nebraska. 


900 people are purchased for sex every month – and that's just in Nebraska. Research by Creighton University's Human Trafficking Initiative finds of those 900 individuals being sold for sex, 70 percent have at least one indicator of being trafficked.

High Plains Morning was honored to speak with Denise Cross (Treasurer/Financial Advisor & Volunteer) and Stefanie Rodarte-Suto (Volunteer & Presenter) at ONE-Amarillo, an area nonprofit committed to stop human trafficking in the greater Amarillo area by educating, empowering, and engaging with those at risk, survivors, and compassionate volunteers in our community that are willing to help.

A new awareness campaign in Kansas is aimed at cutting the demand for prostitution as a way to fight human trafficking.

The campaign involves state agencies and local advocacy groups teaming up to push the Demand an End initiative. It involves education and announcements warning people that buyers of sex face charges.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Tuesday that the campaign wants to create a culture where buying sex is not acceptable. He said it’s not a victimless crime.

“The money goes somewhere,” he said. “It fuels a marketplace.

Many West Texans likely believe that sex trafficking is a big-city problem. Nothing is further from reality. That truth has prompted several Lubbock-area organizations to join forces to fight it. A summit with stakeholders, including survivors of sex trafficking, doctors, experts and law enforcement, will be held Monday through Wednesday next week at First Baptist Church.

Six children were recovered, and one suspect was arrested in Kansas during a nationwide sex trafficking sting that took place earlier this month.

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Under a proposal added to the Texas House budget last week, funding could go to a program to rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking.

David Koehn / NET News

“For most of our trafficking victims this is kind of where we're going to start,” says Jamie Manzer, as she gives a tour of the SASA (Spouse Abuse Sexual Assault) Crisis Center, where she worked until recently.

SASA helps survivors of domestic and sexual violence. That includes women being trafficked: sold against their will for sex. Like a lot of social service agencies, the SASA office used to be something else, but they’ve made the best out of oddly shaped space and rooms.

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As Kansas lawmakers look for ways to control the growth in the sexual predator treatment program, the state’s attorney general is planning tougher penalties for buyers of sex.

David Koehn / NET Nebraska

If you think sex trafficking only happens along the border or in major cities, think again. A recent report by NET Nebraska shows that sex trafficking is thriving in rural America. It’s believed that hundreds of people are sold for sex in Nebraska each year. And many of those cases occur in small towns.