Monday, March 28, 2011

State of Illinois Convicts Human Trafficker

On 24 March 2011, the State of Illinois concluded its first human trafficking trial, which resulted in a conviction against 46-year-old Troy Bonaparte.  The State made it known that pimping is trafficking and the jury unanimously agreed that, while often considered only an international crime, human trafficking will not be tolerated domestically, at least not in Illinois.  

Bonaparte was arrested during a multi-municipality effort in August 2010.  Material witnesses for the State were 3 prostituted women, 2 of whom were from out-of-state and who Bonaparte recruited and kept in a hotel room, using violence, threats of violence and intimidation.  Customers were obtained by advertisements placed on an Internet web site. 

At trial, the State’s closing argument and rebuttal were crucial, as the closing argument explained the elements of trafficking, recruiting, and harboring to the jury.  The rebuttal fleshed out the law even more, emphasizing that consent was not required for a finding of guilty of human trafficking.  By making clear that the purpose of the law is to protect everyone, including marginalized and vulnerable women and girls, the State ensured the jury that a guilty verdict was a way to protect all of society.  

Bonaparte, charged with 2 counts of involuntary servitude, 2 counts of trafficking in persons, and 1 count of pandering, was found guilty on all charges.  He faces up to 30 years in prison. 

The Illinois human trafficking statute, amending the Criminal Code of 1961, was passed in 2006 and largely comports with the United States' federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, both of which support the international human rights law norm, R2P, the Responsibility to Protect. Aligning domestic law with international human rights law is essential for ensuring the rights of all are uniformly respected.

Respectfully, Max Elliott, J.D.

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