Editorials

Sex trafficking turns out to be a local problem

Advocate talks about how to help victims of child sex trafficking

In the last two years, a special unit at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital has treated about 30 young victims. Dr. Ann DiMaio works with child victims at Cardinal Glennon.
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In the last two years, a special unit at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital has treated about 30 young victims. Dr. Ann DiMaio works with child victims at Cardinal Glennon.

Child pornography, trafficking his wife as a prostitute, hiding his daughter’s death and more ugly details are expected from the Jason Quate charges and investigation in Belleville and Las Vegas.

It unfortunately brings home what Dr. Ann DiMaio said in a story on Sunday.

“People always think it’s a Ukranian girl named Svetlana. It’s Keiras and Keishas,” said DiMaio, who works with child victims at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. She said victims are just as likely to be from here.

If you doubt it, just look at the six child trafficking cases that made their way through the federal court in southern Illinois. All either pimped or recruited local youngsters for sex.

Those who should have known or could have intervened on behalf of the Quate children remains a question. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services certainly had at least two opportunities to save these three girls from death or captivity, but bruises on a girl’s head and an inappropriate kiss on a girl’s mouth were deemed “unfounded” reports.

Faith in DCFS’s abilities has never been strong. Another director just resigned amid a failure to prevent a child death and a scandal involving contracting, meaning the state’s child welfare agency has been through eight leaders within five years.

But at least twice, someone reported what they saw involving the Quate girls.

A young woman who for six years was sold for sex said a stranger could have saved her. She was 13 when she first met her trafficker in a fast-food restaurant.

“Many people seen a much older individual, heard the conversation, and just walked by,” the woman said.

“Somebody saying something would have made a difference.”

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