Prostitution sting helps stop human trafficking, expert says - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Prostitution sting helps stop human trafficking, expert says

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    Local news and information for the Cedar Valley and Black Hawk County, including Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Evansdale, La Porte City, Jesup, Dunkerton, Hudson, Gilbertville, Janesville, Raymond and Elk Run Heights.More >>
    Local news and information for the Cedar Valley and Black Hawk County, including Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Evansdale, La Porte City, Jesup, Dunkerton, Hudson, Gilbertville, Janesville, Raymond, Elk Run Heights and the surrounding Black Hawk County area.More >>

A prostitution bust that netted 11 people accused of being connected to the sex trade is a step in the right direction, according to experts in the Cedar Valley.

Among those arrested, a candidate for Cedar Falls city council, Travis Biggs. He has since suspended his campaign.

But even the word 'prostitution sting' can be reductive, according to Ben Brustkern.

"We need to stop using the term prostitution and start using the word human trafficking sting," he said.

As the Executive Director of the Cedar Valley Friends of Family, he's seen how that world can hurt someone. He's seen how a pimp goes for vulnerable people, and even though the relationship doesn't always start as abusive, it often ends up that way.

"We're talking about young people, youth in foster care, who've potentially struggled, runaways -- now they find someone that's pretending to care about them in many different ways," he said.

That's why he's happy to see Waterloo Police at work, taking alleged would-be clients off the streets. He said a drop in demand, so to speak, helps solve the problem -- and get victims of trafficking into better situations.

"So we can help get that light back in their life, so they potentially find a way," he said.

The Friends of Family help hundreds of victims of domestic violence and sex assault a year -- giving them a place to say. Anything, he said, to stop a vicious cycle.

"They don't know how to break that bond," Brustkern said. "Because they've relied on that person for so long."

He said it's so important to know -- selling or buying sex is not a victimless crime.

"Somebodies going to get hurt," Brustkern said.

The Friends of Family staff a 24/7 Crisis Hotline: 1-800-4110-7233

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