Julie K. Brown’s “Perversion of Justice” published in The Miami Herald revealed U.S. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, then the U.S. attorney for Southern Florida, cemented a secret deal with sex predator Jeffrey Epstein.

The exposé ignited a fire that incinerated Acosta’s name and the heat caused him to resign in disgrace. Palm Beach County, Florida, law enforcement officers discovered more than 30 Epstein victims, found the girls’ names and phone numbers on scrap paper in Epstein’s trash cans and sticky notes were uncovered; a typical one informed Epstein or his co-conspirators the school girl would arrive after soccer practice. The girls’ names were found on Epstein’s private flight log. Why’s an old guy flying young girls all around? 

Armed with substantial evidence, Acosta still refused to go to trial; he melted like hot candle wax and claimed going to court was too risky. 

Really?

Berger v. U.S. 1935 established prosecutors should punish the guilty and not cause the innocent to suffer. That’s exactly what Acosta did, ensuring the sordid details were suppressed. Epstein avoided prison and instead served 13 months of his 18-month sentence in the Palm Beach County Jail’s private wing.

In addition, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department violated its sex offender policy by granting Epstein work release. It allowed Epstein to spend six days a week in 12-hour increments, luxuriating in his Palm Beach office. 

Some may be wondering how this affects Tallapoosa County residents. That sectionalism has long stagnated progress. During the 1963 Birmingham campaign, eight clergy assailed Martin Luther King Jr. as an outside agitator. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

It’s the weekend 12-year-old Brad has longed for; his dad is taking him to the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. Brad will soon gawk at the game’s titans. As they’re whizzing down I-20, which encompasses Birmingham and Atlanta, they’re oblivious they’re traveling on what’s dubbed the Sex Trafficking Super Highway. 

Twelve-year-old Jane’s depression equals Brad’s excitement. She performs sex acts in the I-20 corridor with old men who reek of beer and cigarettes. 

The WellHouse, located in Odenville, rescues and restores women who’ve been exploited as sex slaves. They’ve found 12 to 14 is the average age in which girls are manipulated or forced into sex slavery. 

The Certified Public Manager Human Trafficking Team in Alabama reports once a child is forced into sex trafficking his or her life span is seven to 10 years. Sex trafficking is the second-largest criminal activity and the fastest-growing crime in the U.S, grossing $13 billion in the U.S., and 40% of the trafficking occurs in the Southeast.

For years, females who performed sex acts for pay were tossed into jail and considered the wretched of the earth. However, Tuscaloosa Police Department Lt. Darren Beams injects reason and compassion when addressing sex slavery.  

“We had to stop looking at them as suspects and had to look at them as victims,” Beams said.

After all, it’s men’s depraved lusts that propel sex trafficking.

Beams employs a johns-first strategy, which targets the commercial sex demander. Shared Hope International Alabama gave the state an A based on its anti-trafficking laws. In 2016, the legislature passed the Safe Harbor Act, sponsored by Jack Williams (R-Vestavia Hills), which protects trafficked minors from being charged with prostitution. 

Sex trafficking remains secretive and shameful but www.focusonthefamily.com listed these warning signs victims may exhibit:

• Sexualized behavior

• Physical abuse 

• Exhaustion in class

• Being withdrawn and depressed

• Bragging about having a lot of money

• Having new tattoos (predators brand their victims)

If you see these signs, immediately call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. 

Marc D. Greenwood is a Camp Hill resident and a columnist for The Outlook.