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Texas Awards Grant to Prosecute Trafficking, Sex ‘Crimes Against Children’

Vigil against Child Abuse AP
AP
Dallas, TX

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday a $260,000 grant to support the prosecutorial efforts of a newly established “Crimes Against Children” unit within the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.

“Protecting innocent victims from the horrors of human and sex trafficking is one of my top priorities as Governor,” said Abbott in a prepared statement about the grant coming from the Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division.

He added: “This grant will directly fund efforts to find and arrest those who perpetrate these heinous crimes against our children. I will continue to do all I can to work with our local and federal partners to put an end to these horrific crimes.”

According to a press release issued by the governor’s office, the money also will pay for the hiring of prosecutors within the Dallas District Attorney’s office to specifically handle cases involving juvenile victims of human trafficking and sex crimes.

The Crimes Against Children unit intends to streamline the prosecution of human traffickers and predators who pay for sex with children. The unit, as a partner in the Human Trafficking Community Response Multidisciplinary team, will handle specialized sexual assault cases, interface with the underage victims, and offer support for these youngsters coping with such traumatic life-altering events.

Prosecutors will work with local law enforcement, school districts, and other agencies in a coordinated approach to fight human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Their roles may span from preparing legal briefs and other court documents to providing legal advice and technical assistance on human trafficking cases, assist with pre-trial investigations, act as lead or associate counsel, and even represent the state in plea negotiations and trials.

Dallas police investigators already work with the North Texas Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, part of a national network of 61 coordinated task forces, representing more than 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. It was developed in response to an internet age fraught with faceless child predators in cyberspace seeking contact with vulnerable minors and the proliferation of child sexual abuse images available online.

Abbott spokesman John Wittman told Breitbart Texas: “We help to fund the North Texas Crimes Against Children Task Force but these two units are not related.”

Breitbart Texas covers human trafficking and child exploitation cases extensively. In December 2016, a University of Texas at Austin report, Human Trafficking by the Numbers, accounted for roughly 79,000 minors among the state’s more than 300,000 sex trafficking victims.

Last month, the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center and the Dallas Police Department held their 29th annual Crimes Against Children Conference to train others in law enforcement, social work, child advocacy, therapy, and medicine who interact directly with child victims.

In 2014, the Texas Department of Public Safety established the Texas Crimes Against Children Center within the investigative division of the Texas Rangers. In 2003, the state’s Office of the Attorney General launched the Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) in response to growing incidents of online child predators and pornography. Affiliated with the ICAC Task Force, the CEU is one of three task forces in Texas. The others are the Dallas and Houston police departments.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.

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