Rep. Wagner's Statement on the Senate passage of the SAVE Act

Apr 22, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) released the following statement regarding today’s Senate passage of Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) amendment to the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking bill, which is companion legislation to Rep. Wagner’s House-passed SAVE Act, or the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act.

“Today, the U.S. Senate passed the SAVE Act, which I authored, and which passed the House unanimously in January. For too long, the federal government hasn’t led in the effort to combat the spread of sex trafficking, but today, we change the status quo. I commend my friends Sen. Kirk and Sen. Feinstein for sponsoring this critical piece of bipartisan legislation and I look forward to final passage of this bill.”

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The Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act of 2015

Modern-day slavery exists right here in the United States. Sexual predators can browse advertisements and have child prostitutes sent to their hotel rooms as easily as if they were ordering a pizza.

General Figures on Human Trafficking in the United States:

  • Human trafficking generates $9.5 billion yearly in the United States. (United Nations)
  • Approximately 300,000 children are at risk of being prostituted in the United States. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • The average age of entry into prostitution for a child victim in the United States is 13-14 years old. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • A pimp can make $150,000-$200,000 per child each year and the average pimp has 4 to 6 girls. (U.S. Justice Department, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

H.R. 285- the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act

  • H.R. 285, the SAVE Act seeks to criminalize the advertisement of commercial sex acts with minors and victims of human trafficking.
  • The SAVE Act adds advertising to the types of conduct that constitute sex trafficking.
  • H.R. 285 would amend Section 1591 of the Federal Criminal Code, inserting “advertises” into the list of conduct that constitute the crime of federal sex trafficking.
  • The language of H.R. 285 has been carefully crafted to ensure that no innocent or collateral actors are unreasonably impacted.
    • The mens rea standard (the requisite criminal intent) necessary to be found guilty of the crime is “knowingly”; i.e. a prosecutor must prove to a jury that the defendant knew that the advertisement they were distributing would lead to sex trafficking.
    • This high burden is intended to ensure that those whose services are indirectly (or without their knowledge or consent) used by traffickers will not be held criminally liable.
  • H.R. 285 does not amend or erode the immunities contained in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).
  • This legislation prohibits ONLY those advertisements that the government can prove actually offer sex with either:
    • 1. A child or
    • 2. An adult who is involved due to force, fraud or coercion (i.e. trafficking victim).
  • There is well-established precedent for Congress to criminalize the advertising of illegal goods or services, including advertising of child pornography, weapons of mass destruction, illegal narcotics and prescription controlled substances, and animal-fighting ventures.