Jessa Dillow-Crisp is a survivor; she lived through years of sexual abuse both in Canada and the U.S. She had to pose for child pornography and says that she was sold to countless men for sex every day. This abuse, she reveals, occurred at the hands of family members. She was unable to even call for help because… the police were among her abusers.
This shocking revelation came during Dillow-Crisp’s speech at the Colorado State Capital. She was speaking to an audience about Human Trafficking Awareness and Advocacy Day in February.
“There was gang raping. The police officer who handcuffed me and raped me, told me I would be put in jail if I opened my voice [sic]. I had somebody very close to me tortured and she eventually died in front of my eyes. This stuff happens and I’m here to tell you the reality of its existence.”
Also there to drive home the reality of human trafficking was Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. She told the audience that human trafficking is not just a third world problem; it happens right here in America. Every year, between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked right here at home.
The FBI’s Lost Innocence Task Force has been working with local law enforcement for the past eight years to crack down on the abusers. Special Agent in Charge of the FBI office in Colorado, Thomas Ravenelle told the gathering:
“The Innocence Lost Task Force recovered 18 children in a one week period, who were being exploited through prostitution. In the hands of their abusers, they’re subjected to numerous assaults, illicit drugs and continued abuse, including sex trafficking. It’s not an issue we can arrest and prosecute our way out of. It’s only through a multi-disciplined approach involving investigations, prosecution, victim advocacy, treatment and professional care, parents and communities as a whole where we can make a difference.”
Dillow-Crisp described the first time she came to Colorado. She was only there for six months before she had to return to Canada with her abusers. She describes meeting a woman at a church pancake breakfast who said she would help Jessa. But all she did was expose her to further abuse.
Jessa Dillow-Crisp finally found freedom with the help of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the FBI and local police. But, rather than hide from the world — and who would blame her after that? — she has chosen to speak out. Quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, she says that the responsibility came with her freedom:
“The responsibility that I feel is to be a face for hundreds of individuals here in Colorado, including men, women and children, who are being abused and exploited right now.”
She says she doesn’t feel like a victim. She is, rather, a victor. She wants to do everything she can to stop any girl from living the same abuses she lived through.
It may seem to beggar belief that policemen were involved in the trafficking and abuse of girls but several state and federal law enforcement agencies have confirmed Jessa’s version of events. There have been a number of arrests and victims rescued in Colorado.
While it’s not an everyday occurrence, law enforcement officers have been involved in sex crimes. In fact, of all complaints against LEOs nationwide, sexual misconduct was second on the list: in 2010, they were 9.3% of all complaints. Police officers have been arrested in child pornography rings. Just this week a Washington, D.C. cop was charged with collecting child porn and sexting while he was supposedly on the job.
Though Human Trafficking Awareness and Advocacy Day was a couple of months ago, the problem of human trafficking is going on every day. The passage of SB-178 on Wednesday has brought it back to the nation’s attention. The bill increases fines for trafficking, establishes a fund for victims, expands the definition of “child abuse” to include trafficking, and expands the DoJ’s authority to investigate trafficking cases among other things.
Here’s a report about Jessa Dillow-Crisp from ABC News 7 in Denver: