Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) on Friday praised the Essex County Prosecutor's Office for pursuing the first guilty plea under New Jersey's Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection and Treatment Act, underscoring the law's effectiveness in its first year on the books.
Vainieri Huttle noted that in exchange for the defendant's guilty plea to two counts of first-degree human trafficking of a 15-year-old, promoting prostitution, sexual assault, possession of child pornography and endangering the welfare of a child, prosecutors are recommending a 20-year prison sentence with no opportunity for parole during that period, as well as parole supervision for life and a $25,000 fine to be paid to the Human Trafficking Survivor's Assistance Fund.
"I want to praise the prosecutor's office for making sure these horrific charges are met with appropriately aggressive penalties. As Assistant Prosecutor Sandler noted, the statutes under our new human trafficking law have empowered law enforcement to pursue stiffer charges to meet the nature of the crimes.
"Despite the sickening nature of these charges, I'm comforted by the fact that our law is working exactly as we intended it. Hopefully this sentence will serve as a deterrent to other would-be perpetrators and the survivor's assistance fund will serve as a source of comfort for victims everywhere," said Vainieri Huttle.
Vainieri Huttle was the lead sponsor of the landmark Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection and Treatment Act, which went into effect last year, providing New Jersey with some of the most aggressive tools in the nation to combat what is widely considered a modern day form of slavery.