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Handsome, older, confident, he said he wanted to get to know her.
She gave him her phone number and he texted her later.
Yet, in Maryland, we’re still holding the threat of incarceration over these girls.” Rodriguez used to oversee human trafficking charges for the Baltimore County state’s attorney’s office, handling between 20 and 30 cases a year.
It was her contact with victims of the traffickers who she was trying to lock up that eventually led to a career switch, working with survivors. I wasn’t looking to give up being an attorney and it’s important to go after the bad guys,” she says.
He asked if she had any pictures of herself and asked if she had any kids.
She’d met him twice before, briefly, a few weeks earlier on the streets of D. The third time that the 31-year-old Douglas spotted her, they talked more. He paid to get her nails and hair done, made her feel special, and told her that he cared about her. Heid had just begun working with the Maryland State Police’s Child Recovery Unit.
He had also previously been indicted on rape, gun, and kidnapping charges involving a woman he’d met on an online dating chat line.
“I spent a lot of time with the young woman who had the courage to testify against him,” Rodriguez says. She talked about her dreams and her dreams for her son, and I got to know her as a human being.” In some ways, Rodriguez’s career switch is representative of a change in focus that she and other advocates envision toward a public health approach that supports survivors of trafficking and prostitution.
In fact, the number of survivors identified by the state trafficking task force nearly doubled from 2013 to 2014, which doesn’t so much as indicate a skyrocketing number of victims as it does the degree to which the ongoing crisis has been hidden in plain sight.
“The number of survivors coming in contact, in one way or another, with the victims’ services committee of the state human trafficking task force most likely is a fraction of the actual trafficking victims,” says Amelia Rubenstein, a researcher with the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work. Deborah Flory, who oversees the agency’s two-person Child Recovery Unit. Some of them will wait until a girl turns 18,” Heid adds.