People in Missouri who advertise the availability of others for commercial sex — electronically or otherwise — will be as guilty of human trafficking as people who recruit, entice, harbor, transport or provide people for sex.
That is a key provision of a new law signed in Kansas City on Wednesday by Gov. Jay Nixon. He was joined by Rep. Elijah Haahr, a Springfield Republican, who sponsored the bill and gathered strong bipartisan support.
The law, which becomes effective Aug. 28, also will expand a protection for victims of sexual crimes that assigns them a substitute home address in public records. Secretary of State Jason Kander worked to include victims of human trafficking in that protection, which is administered by his office.
The bill allows people who attempt to access the address of a victim to be charged with stalking.
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Kander joined Nixon in Kansas City for the bill signing, which occurred at the office of Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.
“Under this law, people who are caught advertising a child or any unconsenting individual to participate in prostitution or pornography can be charged with a felony, and if the offense involves a child, they will spend the rest of their lives behind bars,” Nixon said.
“This will give law enforcement another powerful tool to combat the scourge of sex trafficking and keep Missourians safe.”
The Kansas City Star in 2009 published an in-depth investigation of human trafficking.