Human trafficking victim turned survivor, Sara Jessimy Kruzan (SJK), has been incarcerated for 19 years now. Sara was groomed by her trafficker beginning at age 11. By 13, she was raped and sold on the streets. Night after night, she was commercially sexually exploited for her abuser’s gain. By 16, she was forced to shoot her trafficker and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. After exhausting her appeals, Sara had no other legal alternatives. Kruzan’s only recourse and defense was to use ‘intimate partner battering’ in order to petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus - her first opportunity to tell her story. However, her trafficker was not her ‘partner,’ he was not a boyfriend. 11 year-old children do not have 30-something year-old boyfriends, and they certainly cannot give consent to sex. Sara’s trafficker was a pedophile; an abuser; a monster. If SB-327 was in place, Sara could have utilized a Writ of Habeas Corpus sooner. By identifying herself as a human trafficking victim while identifying her abuser as a ‘trafficker’ and not as a ‘partner’ would have greatly affected the outcome of her sentencing and conviction.
Human trafficking is a criminal business that profits from enslaving people for forced labor or sexual servitude. In the United States, the average age of a victim when they are first trafficked for sex trade is 12 to 14 years old. Many victims are runaway girls or foster children who have suffered sexual abuse. Traffickers or pimps are master manipulators who gain a victim’s trust before forcing them into commercial sex acts and keeping them compliant through violence and drugs. California harbors 3 of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. Trafficked victims often suffer physical abuse and psychology trauma similar to domestic violence victims. However, trafficked victims are not entitled to the same level of defense as domestic violence victims.
Due to a lack of awareness, victims of human trafficking are often not even recognized as victims and thus evidence surrounding their abuse related to the charges against them are not been considered in the court.
Existing law provides that a writ of habeas corpus based on intimate partner battering may be prosecuted if evidence relating to intimate partner battering and its effects were not presented during trial court proceedings, and is of substance that had it been presented, there is a probability that the judgement of conviction or sentence would have been different.
Changes SB-327 would create:
This bill would make the same provisions allowed for victims of intimate partner battering applicable to sexually exploited and trafficked victims in cases where the trafficking of the victim was not introduced into evidence to include cases where the evidence was not competent or substantial and where such evidence may have changed the sentence not just the conviction.
“This bill would make those provisions applicable to cases in which competent and substantial expert testimony relating to human trafficking, as defined, and its effects was not presented to the trier of fact at the trial court proceedings and is of such substance that, had the competent and substantial expert testimony been presented, there is a reasonable probability, sufficient to undermine confidence in the judgment of conviction or sentence, that the result of the proceedings would have been different.”
By supporting this bill, you will be ensuring that all the “Sara Kruzan’s” will be afforded the dignity and legal recourse to tell their story of abuse and correctly label their traffickers for what they are. Victims of human trafficking should not have to call their traffickers, their ‘partners’ in order to obtain their freedom and a sense of justice.
To read Senate Bill 327: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB327
To learn more about Sara Kruzan:
Sara J. Kruzan wishes for her 19 years to be time-well-served; to bring about the change needed for human trafficking victims in the state of California.
Thank you for your support!
Forces For Sara - the Global Human Rights Campaign to Free Sara Kruzan; California Against Slavery (sponsor), California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Police Officers Research Association of California (PORAC); I am SJK