The Dark Reality of Modern Slavery in America
The following are all true stories:
• Sacramento, California, 2018:
When two teenage girls, ages fifteen and seventeen, approached the American Airlines counter, ticket agent Denise Miracle knew something wasn't right. The girls were traveling unaccompanied with no ID on a first-class ticket to New York that had been purchased by a credit card in another name. She denied them boarding and called the Sheriff's Department Airport Bureau. Meanwhile, the girls called "Drey," who had invited them to New York for a weekend to earn $2,000 modeling and appearing in a music video. They'd met him on Instagram, and each had told her parents that she would be staying at the other's house for the weekend, but then headed to the airport instead. By the time Deputy Todd Sanderson arrived, "Drey" had dropped off the grid—his phone number and all his social media accounts had been deactivated. The girls were shocked when Sanderson told them they'd been booked on one-way flights.
• Stockton, California, 2012:
Lee's job as a taxi driver was simply to drive people from point A to point B. He'd picked up his young female charge from a quiet suburban home around midnight, but there was no way he was going to drop her off at the address he'd been given. He ignored protocol and took her to the police station. It turned out that "Jason," whom she'd met on OK Cupid, had dispatched the taxi for her so they could meet and share some smokes and a little fun. "Jason," too, went dark shortly thereafter.
• Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1985:
Annie Lobert sensed right away that the charmingly attentive Mr. Hotness at the strip club where she danced for college money might be dangerous. But he was dripping with money, and she felt a spark. Maybe he would be "the one." Then again, maybe not. After a brief high-dollar romance, he reined her in as his very lucrative Las Vegas "cash cow" until she escaped five years later.1
• Suburban Detroit, Michigan, 1981:
When David, the older-looking, gorgeous Chaldean sophomore Theresa Flores had been crushing on all year, offered her a ride home from school, she skipped track practice without missing a beat. When he turned his shiny black Trans Am away from her neighborhood and instead pulled up to a stunningly large house, she ignored the red flags and accepted his invitation to come inside while he "got something." It would only take a moment, she reasoned, and their families attended the same Catholic church. Surely, they shared the same moral values.
Surely, they did not. Theresa returned home that evening dazed and devastated. She had almost surely been drugged, and she had definitely been robbed of her virginity.
Sextortion in the Suburbs
The three California girls were saved by perceptive, quick-thinking adults, and Annie, who was well into her twenties, eventually escaped on her own. But Theresa's experience was uniquely bizarre. Just shy of her sixteenth birthday, she soon found herself at the mercy of what could only be described as a Chaldean mafia—all while living under her parents' roof in a safe, upper-middle-class neighborhood.
Here's how it went: After the afternoon sting operation, David sought her out at school. "I am really sorry," he said, "but my cousins saw us together. They took pictures of you, and you will have to work for them to get the pictures back. I tried talking them out of it, but they are cruel. You must do what they say." Then, for more than a year, David played the part of her "protector-handler" in a drawn-out good-cop, bad-cop scheme. After an otherwise ordinary day of school and homework, Theresa would drop into bed exhausted, and around midnight, her phone would ring. It was always David, and if she didn't follow directions, someone would pay a price, either her or someone in her family.
So Theresa would sneak out of the house, and David would drive her to one well-appointed home or another where she would be locked in a room for hours while one Middle Eastern man after another took his turn with her. This would happen several nights a week, and Theresa complied to protect her family. If she didn't answer the phone, a dead animal or a black rose would appear in the mailbox the next day, and once, when she escaped her late-night confines, her dog disappeared the following day, never to return. The entire ordeal mercifully came to an end when her father was transferred and the family moved away. Busy with their own concerns, her parents never knew any of this was going on.2
The U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline defines sex trafficking as "a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion." According to Geoff Rogers of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, America is the number one consumer of sex worldwide, and the demand is rapidly growing. Hotline cases nearly doubled between 2015 and 2018, and a single case may involve more than one victim. Rogers says it's simple economics. "Because of the demand, then these traffickers are filling that demand . . . with our very own kids." The State Department released a report earlier this year listing the U.S., Mexico, and the Philippines as the top three nations of origin for victims in 2018, and according to the Hotline, the most common ages of entry are 15–17.
Traffickers prey on vulnerabilities, and social media is a rapidly growing tool for them. Another recruitment tactic is the offer of a job, such as a modeling contract. Sadly, the most common means of entry, according to the Hotline, are people known to the victim—an intimate partner, foster-care-related contact, or family member. A number of victims are foreigners who were lured into the U.S. under false pretenses, such as a marriage proposal or job offer.
The Rise & Fall of Sexual Restraint
In the wake of the Jeffrey Epstein affair, Rev. Ralph Smith, a missionary in Tokyo, published an essay on Theopolis about the long historical evolution of Western sensitivities concerning sex with prostitutes and minors. Prostitution was prevalent in the ancient world; it was just a transaction, and the age of the service provider was irrelevant. "One thing and only one thing happened to provoke a cultural revolution in one part of the world—though its influence has reached others," he wrote. "Christianity and only Christianity transformed the way people viewed human sexual relationships by universalizing the standards of the Old and New Testaments." Nothing in Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam explicitly upholds the dignity of women and protects minors from abuse, he pointed out. "Only Christianity required strict monogamy."3
Today, most people rightly recoil at the thought of women and children being held against their will and used for sex. We can thank Christianity for that. Yet, now, even as social justice warriors bloviate about America's shameful history of slavery, there exists right under their elevated noses a slavery problem in post-sexual-revolution America. Meanwhile, Teen Vogue openly advocates for legitimized prostitution worldwide, even suggesting social media as a safe meeting space for conducting transactions.
The sexual revolutionaries told us that biblical monogamy and the natural family were oppressive. They also said that overthrowing sexual restraints would set women free. What they have done, though, is gradually replace one set of restraints with another. And the most vulnerable among us are the ones being sold a bill of goods and paying the highest toll.
1. Annie's story is told in Fallen: Out of the Sex Industry and into the Arms of the Savior (Worthy Books, 2015); see also Salvo 33.
2. Theresa tells her story in her book, The Slave Across the Street: A human trafficking survivor's spiritual journey of healing (Ampelon Publishing, 2019; orig. pub. 2009).
3. "What Jeffrey Epstein Got Right" (Aug. 14, 2019): https://theopolisinstitute.com/leithart_post/what-jeffrey-epstein-got-right.