Senators Schaffer, Fedor Introduce Legislation Targeting Human Trafficking in Ohio
Legislation Would Create a Public Database of Individuals Convicted of Sexual Exploitation
COLUMBUS—On Wednesday, State Senators Tim Schaffer
(R-Lancaster) and Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) gave sponsor testimony on Senate Bill 247
, their legislation aimed at further combating human trafficking and prostitution in Ohio.
The first step outlined in the legislation will split the current soliciting statute into two separate charges, one charge for “soliciting” and another for “engaging in prostitution." There will also be increased penalties on the purchaser or “john” as they would receive a 1st degree misdemeanor, a fine up to $1,500, and be required to attend an education treatment program.
“No one accidentally engages in sexual activity for hire—these offenders are aware that their conduct is illegal and choose to engage anyway,” Senator Shaffer said. “This bill will shine a light on this horrible crime and those who pay to engage in the act and create the demand which keeps it alive.”
The second step in this fight will be the creation of a statewide database of those who are convicted or plead guilty to soliciting prostitution. This will be made possible through a $190,000 appropriation to the Ohio Attorney General’s office over the biennium from the state's General Revenue Fund (GRF). It also establishes new laws and punishments for those who are convicted of engaging in, soliciting, or earning anything of value from prostitution.
“Under current law, it is not difficult for someone caught soliciting a prostitute to keep that information hidden from family and friends, which is why we are nowhere near reducing the demand for bodies,” Senator Fedor said. “We need to pass this vital piece of legislation to make sure Ohio gets to the core of who is driving this criminal enterprise.”
The third step will be the creation of a new penalty that charges those for “receiving proceeds of prostitution." This offense will directly target pimps and traffickers by criminalizing a third party who knowingly receives anything of value from someone committing prostitution. Those who are convicted of this offense face a third- degree felony that is escalated to a second-degree felony if the victim is a minor.
This legislative initiative was unveiled at a press conference
in early November by Senator Schaffer and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
“Basic economics works under the premise of supply and demand – and right now we have a demand problem in Ohio,” Yost said. “Our goal is to reduce the demand and in return rescue victims from this modern-day slavery. Making that a reality starts by unmasking and penalizing those who buy sex or profit from human trafficking.”
Companion legislation, House Bill 415 and House Bill 431, have been introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives.