LA DA launches sex trafficking diversion program
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles County district attorney is launching a program to keep young victims of sex trafficking from being prosecuted for engaging in prostitution.
District Attorney Jackie Lacey said Wednesday that minors engaging in sex for pay will be viewed as victims, not criminals. The "First Step" diversion program will offer an alternative to prosecution for youngsters under 18 arrested for sex offenses.
Lacey says a coalition of community groups will offer young arrestees a one-year program of crisis intervention services including shelter, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and education.
If they successfully complete the program, their arrest will be cleared. Lacey calls it an innovative alternative to prosecution of young victims of pimps and abusers. Most victims are girls, but she says a smaller number are boys.