Oregon Senate OKs bills allowing victims of sex trafficking to avoid prostitution charges

Photo: MGN

SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon Senate passed a pair of bills Wednesday which would allow the victims of sex trafficking to avoid prostitution charges or vacate past convictions.

Senate Bills 249 and 250 were created by the bipartisan Statewide Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Workgroup.

Sen. Kathleen Taylor, D-Portland, and Rep. John Huffman, R-The Dalles, chair the workgroup.

“Victims of sex trafficking are just that: victims,” Taylor said. “It is unjust that a person who has been trafficked receives a charge or conviction of prostitution, when they were engaging in that activity due to the worst kind of exploitation. This allows a fair way for victims of trafficking to avoid prosecution or clear their own names in these cases.”

Senate Bill 249 creates a to vacate a prostitution conviction if the person was the victim of sex trafficking at the time.

"Evidence of sex trafficking can include court records, certified immigration records recognizing someone as a sex trafficking victim and sworn statements from professionals certifying that the victim sought assistance related to their exploitation," the Legislature said in a press release.

Senate Bill 250 creates a defense against prostitution charges if a defendant can show they were "recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided or obtained for commercial sex acts, and they were a minor, or they can demonstrate that they were forced, tricked or coerced into performing commercial sex acts."

The bills now go to the state House of Representatives.

“I am proud of the continuing progress our work group has made to help address this issue and help support vulnerable Oregonians, including children,” Huffman said. “I am glad to see these bills moving forward with broad, bipartisan support, and I look forward to shepherding them through the House Chamber.”

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