On Wednesday, a woman was able to have her criminal record of prostitution in New York expunged because she was a victim of human sex trafficking, the first U.S. citizen to do so under a new law.
Referred to as only Ms. Johnson, the 22-year-old mother of two was forced into prostitution at the age of 13 by a man she thought was her boyfriend. She told a story of "pimp sticks" and domination, of the non-consensual sort. She was sold by various pimps, beaten and forced to have sex with men for money.
“The law says any survivor of sex trafficking can try to have their record expunged if they prove the conviction obtained was the result of having been trafficked,” said Legal Aid lawyer Kate Mogulescu, who defended Ms. Johnson. “This is the first case that involved pimp-controlled prostitution.”
Unfortunately, the law only covers people who've been convicted of pimp-controlled prostitution. It does nothing to prevent sex workers forced into the occupation from being convicted in the first place. Mogulescu is working with others on an attempt to change the law.
Oh, and that mother of two? She's moved from New York to Georgia with her babies and is working at a Waffle House. Since she no longer has to reveal her criminal record; and she plans to go back to school and pursue a career in health care. We wish her the best of luck.