San Diego County leaders voted to support so-called Hazel's Law, a bill that would close a loophole in current sex trafficking legislation.
The proposed legislation is named for a native San Diegan who was abducted as a minor, held captive for nine months and forced into prostitution in 2010.
Hazel C. was the victim in a San Diego case which was delayed while the prosecution struggled to prove the trafficker knew his victim was a minor.
In high school, Hazel was on the debate team and was an honor student. It was at that time she said she fell victim to a “guerrilla pimp.”
She explains there are several types of traffickers that are defined by the tactics they use – force, fraud or coercion.
Guerrilla pimps are the most dangerous Hazel said.
“They beat, they maim, they are very, very violent,” she said.
Right before her senior year, she said he moved her an hour away from North Park where he kept her for nine months.
She remembered the day she broke free and spoke about it on the steps of the Hall of Justice in April.
“He was angry and he assaulted me and broke my nose and bloodied my lip. Out of anger, he left and forgot his cell phone. I ran, locked the door, snagged his phone, made a call and was gone 20 minutes later,” she said.
On Tuesday, Hazel C. encouraged the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to recommend H.R. 1690, a bill proposed by Congressman Juan Vargas that would close a loophole by removing knowledge of a victim's age as a requirement for child sex trafficking cases.
“There’s nothing that these men should be able to say to receive less time for selling our kids,” Hazel C. said Tuesday.
Supervisors agreed and voted to unanimously support the bill.
Alicia Kozakiewicz of The Alicia Project is a victim whose story is similar to Hazel’s. At 13, she was approached by a man online.
“I was raped. Raped and tortured,” Kozakiewicz said.
“This monster kidnapped me and took me to Virginia where I was held captive in his basement dungeon,” she said.
Through her organization "Alicia Project," Kozakiewicz speaks nationwide about her experience.
She's pushing for her own law, which would send more funding to agencies that specialize in rescuing children.
“Parents, people in general, need to pay attention to the laws that are out there and contact their legislators. Tell their legislators what they need and they support a certain law,” Kozakiewicz said.
The bill, HR-1690, was referred to committee on Friday. Read the full text of the bill here.