A man convicted of human trafficking on Monday is the first ever in Cuyahoga County, according to the prosecutor’s office.
LORAIN, Ohio - Formed just two years ago, a group that helps victims of human trafficking in Lorain County is busier than ever.
Lorain County's mix of interstates, motels, cities and farms creates a crossroads for human traffickers. Of the 15 victims they have helped, ages range from 14 to 26.
Armed with a new PSA and 10 new billboards, a group is raising awareness about an issue striking big cities and small towns.
"We need a safe house because a lot of times a victim of human trafficking has no place to go," said Mindi Kuebler with the Human Trafficking Collaborative of Lorain County.
The Human Trafficking Collaborative of Lorain County is opening a new safe house in a protected location where victims will be provided with more than food and shelter.
"We'll set them up with mental health help or medical needs that we might come across and get them acclimated into society to regular normal society," Kuebler said. Kuebler is a forensic nurse with the Sexual Assault Care Unit of Lorain County located in Lorain's renowned Nord Center.
The collaborative is also doing a soap campaign with local motels in May.
"The soap campaign is 'Save our adolescent children against prostitution,'" said Kuebler.
Soap labeled with hotline help numbers for victims will be placed in local motels in Lorain, Elyria and throughout Lorain County. Motel rooms are often used in the illegal sex trade.
"So that if someone picks up that bar of soap and feel they need help, they have a number to call and can that and put it in their shoe or hide it somewhere," Kuebler said.
Lorain County's large farming area attracts migrant workers. Vulnerable, they can become targets of slave labor and the sex trade while being threatened with not having proper papers.
Through referrals, Kuebler's colleague, Shawn Cleveland, reaches out to victims afraid to come forward.
"I let them know first we're not police we're not there to arrest them, just want to make sure they're okay," said Cleveland.
An Ohio man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison in Maryland on human trafficking and prostitution charges.
Experts in the U.S. increasingly are applying the label "human trafficking" to homegrown prostitution. Lawmakers, police and prosecutors are starting to shift their view on this, too.
Swedish fashion retailer H&M said Monday that it will sign up to a legally binding fire and building safety plan drawn up by unions in Bangladesh, following the deaths of hundreds of garment workers in a building collapse there last month.
A Lorain County couple is accused of forcing a 16-year-old girl and a 19-year-old woman to have sex for money.
Angelina Jolie brought her celebrity wattage to London on Thursday to back an urgent cause: fighting sexual violence in military conflicts.
The Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop in University Heights is giving customers a free cone Tuesday. It's not just a way to say "thanks."
The Akron General Health and Wellness Center West is hosting a human trafficking program Tuesday to debunk myths about perpetrators and victims and much more.
An Ohio lawmaker is pursing changes to a new state law that she says will help reduce the demand behind human trafficking.
Did you know there are move slaves in the world today than any other time in history? Help give a voice to those without one by participating in Shine a Light on Slavery day April 9.