PHOENIX – Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Representative Shawnna L.M. Bolick today applauded the enactment of legislation that will allow victims of human and sex trafficking to take civil action against their perpetrators and anyone else who contributes to their abuse.
Representative Bolick worked with the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) to introduce HB2116 this legislative session. The bill received unanimous legislative support. Previously in Arizona, human and sex trafficking were only addressed in criminal statutes. Victims could not take civil action against their perpetrators in state court.
“Society needs to do everything we can to assist victims of this horrific crime and help them rebuild their lives,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. "Our office will continue to be at the forefront of obtaining justice for victims of trafficking, and this law provides an additional resource for survivors to hold their traffickers accountable for the lives they've thrown into chaos."
"Justice for trafficking victims doesn't end when perpetrators are sentenced for their crimes," said Representative Bolick. "This new law allows victims to recover the economic losses they suffered during the time their perpetrators were committing the crime, but more importantly, it addresses the host of related physical and mental damages that occur as a result of being trafficked."
HB2116 stipulates that:
- A person who engages in the trafficking of another person or a person who benefits from participating in a venture that traffics another person is liable to the person trafficked for damages that arise during the trafficking period.
- Acquittal, no prosecution or criminal conviction, or conviction of a different offense or of a different type or class of offense do not qualify as a defense to liability.
- Subjects corporations, associations, and partnerships to liability.
- A claimant who prevails will be awarded actual damages and may recover additional exemplary damages.
- Any person found responsible for any amount is jointly liable with any other person found to be liable for the entire amount of damages.
- If a legal entity is found responsible for trafficking, a shareholder, partner, or member of that entity is jointly and severally liable if the shareholder, member, or partner was found to have personally benefited from the trafficking.
- There is no statute of limitations for a victim to bring forward a private action.
The bill was signed into law by the Governor on Tuesday.
AGO Efforts in Fighting Human Trafficking
Since 2015, the AGO has prosecuted or is currently prosecuting 282 cases involving 330 defendants that are connected to sex trafficking, child sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of minors, or illegal enterprises/money laundering in the trafficking arena, such as massage parlors.
Recent AGO cases related to sex trafficking:
- Valley Man Accused of Trafficking Minors
- Ring Leader and Co-Defendant Indicted in Alleged Prostitution Ring
- Valley Man Charged with Child Sex Trafficking and Money Laundering
- Registered Sex Offender and Co-Conspirators Indicted in Alleged Prostitution Ring
- Robert Hood Sentenced to 108 Years in Prison for Child Sex Trafficking
- Glendale Couple Indicted for Child Sex Trafficking
- Operator of AZ Sex Trafficking Ring Sentenced to Prison
- San Tan Valley Man Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison for Child Sex Trafficking
If you are the victim of human trafficking or if you suspect someone may be the victim of human traffickers, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to: BeFree (233733). The National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 200 languages.