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Town Hall Meeting Sex Trafficking, Internet Safety, and Rape/Sexual Assault “What do I do now?”

September 6, 2018
Northern-Sun Print
Human trafficking is the method of kidnapping or entrapping people to sell them for sex. Studies show victims in Iowa are typically young girls between 16 and 19 years old. Mike Ferjak, retired senior criminal investigator with Iowa Department of Justice, says “while Interstates 80 and 35 alone make Iowa a hot spot for human trafficking operations, there are other factors that play major roles” (WHO-TV.com, 2018). “It’s an issue because we have events that happen in the state of Iowa that draw trafficking. And they’re all wholesome, wonderful events, but wherever there’s a crowd, trafficking will follow because that’s their market,” said Ferjak. “The need to be aware is chief among this. You hear trafficking referred to incorrectly as prostitution, you hear it talked about in ways that puts the blame on the victim and not the offender. And we really need to change the public dialogue about that” (WHO-TV.com, 2018). According to Paige Godden, Des Moines Register, “a warm body is worth $300,000 a year, one Iowa human trafficking expert estimates” (2017). “If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing about trafficking, it would be the public perception of what trafficking is,” states Ferjak, “Most people think about prostitution when you say human trafficking. They are not the same thing” (Godden, 2017). Human trafficking is split into two categories, sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking generally happens when a person is forced or otherwise coerced into performing a commercial sex act. Labor trafficking involves the harboring, transportation or retention of a person who is made to perform labor services that can include indentured servitude, debt bondage, peonage or slavery (Iowa Attorney General’s Office, 2017). Johnny Gosch, a 12-year-old paperboy who went missing from his route in Des Moines in 1982, disappeared due to a human trafficking ring based in Omaha, Nebraska. Netflix has a documentary available called “Who Took Johnny”, regarding this story (Godden, 2017). Ferjak will be speaking Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wieting Theatre in Toledo. The event is free and open to the public. Michelle Stubbs, Juvenile Probation Officer; Joe Tafta, Juvenile Court Liaison; and Jacob Molitor, Meskwaki Police Department will be included in the discussion panel at this event. A light meal will be served at 6 p.m. Registration is not required, unless child care is needed. FREE childcare will be provided by Kid’s Corner, but parents must pre-register by September 17th to access this. If you need childcare, please call Tama County Public Health and Home Care to sign up at (641)484-4788. This event is being sponsored by Tama County Supporting Kids in Prevention (S.K.I.P.). S.K.I.P. focus is for Tama County to have strong families, safe children, and concerned caring adults aiming to prevent abuse before it occurs. For more information about S.K.I.P, please call Tama County Public Health and Home Care at (641) 484-4788. Mike Ferjak is a veteran law enforcement officer with over 40 years of law enforcement and investigative experience. In 1998, he was assigned to the Iowa Department of Justice where he worked exclusively on child sexual exploitation cases until his retirement in 2016. In 2004, he was assigned to the Federal Internet Crimes against Children (ICAC) Task Force in Iowa and was a member of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s (DCI) Cyber-Crime Unit. In 2012, Investigator Ferjak was selected to be the Director of the Iowa Department of Justice Human Trafficking and Prosecution Initiative. In that role he worked directly with all levels of state law enforcement agencies and federal human trafficking authorities, primarily the FBI and Homeland Security and the United States Attorney’s Office in the Northern and southern districts of Iowa. Prior to these assignments he served for seven years as the lead investigator for the Sexually Violent Predator Unit in the Attorney General’s Office. Before Joining the Department of Justice, Mr. Ferjak served as a patrol officer, police chief, public safety director and state investigator from 1976 - 1988. He is a retired career military officer with 27 years of service in the United States Army active and reserve forces.
 
 

 

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