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Louisiana woman accused of sex-trafficking children

A Louisiana woman was arrested recently on suspicion of trafficking children for sexual purposes and aggravated rape of children. Police said they began investigating the 48-year-old Lafayette woman after receiving a report that she allegedly sexually assaulted children who were related to her. During the investigation, police said they learned that the woman brought a child to another parish in order to pimp out the child for sexual acts in exchange for money. Police said the children involved were less than 16 years old at the time the acts allegedly occurred.

Police said the complaint that spurred the investigation came from the alleged victims, who heard about the recent arrest of another Lafayette woman on suspicion of child sex trafficking. Police said they believe that the two cases are not related, but investigations continue and there may be more arrests.

Louisiana laws are strict about prostitution-related offenses, but never more so than when they involve exploitation of children. Gov. Bobby Jindal recently signed into a law a measure that would make trafficking of children for sexual purposes, among other crimes, punishable under the state's racketeering law, making them felonies punishable with a fine of $1 million and/or a prison sentence of up to 50 years.

Penalties for aggravated rape are even more serious. Those convicted can face the possibility of life in prison or even the death penalty. In addition, sex crimes, and especially those involving children, generally require those convicted to sign up on the National Sex Offender Registry, which can profoundly limit their personal and professional lives for years even after they serve any jail time or pay any fines.

The public has little sympathy for those accused of sex crimes involving children, but all those accused are entitled to a defense. Because the penalties are so severe, it's crucial that Louisiana residents accused of sex crimes involving children begin building that defense as early as they can.

Source: The Advocate, "Lafayette woman arrested in child sex trafficking," Billy Gunn, July 25, 2013