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By Pamela A. Lee, Esquire

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery – a multi-billion dollar industry built on the criminal activity of depriving victims of their freedom.  Sex trafficking is the exploitation of adults-usually women-and children for the purpose of forced sex work including pornography and prostitution.  These women and children are victims; they are not prostitutes.

Human sex trafficking occurs in our own back yards and crosses all demographics.  Victims are lured from our suburbs as well as our cities. Victims include members of upper, middle and lower classes and are comprised of all races and ethnicities.


Victims fall into this ill-fated situation differently. For many teenagers, they become romantically involved with a trafficker in what appears to be-at first-a whirlwind love affair with an older man who showers them with “loving” adoration, attention and gifts.  Thereafter, the trafficker-who specifically marks a victim-forces or manipulates them into prostitution.  Others may be lured in with promises of a fake job such as modeling.  Others may be forced by a family member.  Many are given drugs “to lessen the pain” and once addicted; a victim’s dependence upon their trafficker is sealed.

Victims of human trafficking may pursue justice through the civil justice system as well as the criminal justice system.  Victims who bring a civil lawsuit may receive compensation for their losses and harm, such as money they lost (medical expenses and lost income) and emotional harm they suffered.

In addition to holding their wrongdoers accountable, victims may be able to properly hold other parties liable who may have assisted, facilitated, or contributed to the wrongdoing against the victim.  The human trafficking law in Pennsylvania was revamped in 2014 to ensure that victims can hold anyone or any entity that benefits financially from the human trafficking liable for their actions or failures to take action.

These other parties may include a daycare facility, school, college, shopping center, or other public facility such as a hotel or church.  For example, owners of a motel/hotel could properly be held liable to a victim of human trafficking for failure to take any steps to prevent human sex trafficking at their place of business.  A school that fails to conduct proper background checks on its employees and hires a violent sex offender who has contact with children could also be held properly liable for placing a child victim in imminent danger.

If you are an adult victim of human sex trafficking, you should know that in Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for a civil lawsuit-the deadline by which time you must file your lawsuit in court-is only five years from the date of the last incident against the victim.

But if you are a victim and were younger than 18 years of age at the time of the sexual assault, you have until your 30th birthday to file your civil lawsuit in court.

Why do victims of human sex trafficking file a civil lawsuit?  It’s not just about seeking full and fair compensation for their harm and losses.  The answers victims give us almost always include regaining a sense of control over their life by stepping up and holding the wrongdoers responsible for their role in the crime against them; and stopping wrongdoers from ever again committing the same crimes against other victims.  Whatever the appropriate reason is to file a civil lawsuit, we can help seek civil justice for victims of human sex trafficking.

The attorneys at the Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP are experienced and available to help you. Contact Pamela A. Lee, Esquire at 610-565-5700, or send her an e-mail at [email protected]

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The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP, is located in Media, PA and serves clients in and around Media, Glen Riddle Lima, Brookhaven, Wallingford, Newtown Square, Lenni, Springfield, Swarthmore, Chester, Aston, Bryn Mawr, Morton, Woodlyn, Broomall, Gradyville, Folsom, Chester Heights, Crum Lynne, Glen Mills, Marcus Hook, Ridley Park, Drexel Hill, Marple, Bethel, Garnet Valley, Chadds Ford Concord, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County.

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