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Lauderdale County is located in the northwestern corner of Alabama, on the border with Tennessee and Mississippi, and has a population of about 93,000 residents. Its county seat is Florence. Sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation have been documented in the county. For example, in September 2018, two people were arrested by the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department on charges of child pornography (i.e., child sexual abuse materials), sexual battery, kidnapping, and human trafficking after trying to sell access to minors online. In July 2022, another local man was charged with 232 counts of possession of child pornography, 227 counts of production of child pornography, four counts of sexual abuse of a child under 12 years old, and two counts of first-degree sodomy.
At least one incident of sex buyer arrests and identity disclosure has occurred in the county. In March 2019, two men who were accused of forcing women to do sexual favors in exchange for legal representation were found not guilty on human trafficking charges. The men allegedly took advantage of women in the Lauderdale County Detention Center by forcing them into sexual servitude as payback for getting them out of jail. Although prosecutors said the men used intimidation, drugs, and money to lure the women, the defense attorneys argued the women were not forced and the case never should have been tried as human trafficking, but prostitution. Though they were not convicted, the two sex buyers still faced consequences through their arrests in 2016 and identity disclosure to the press. One man faced another human trafficking charge and the other faced charges for intimidating a witness in separate cases.
- Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department
- Alabama Attorney General’s Office
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- https://whnt.com/news/shoals/florence-attorney-arrested-charged-with-human-trafficking (2016)
- https://whnt.com/news/shoals/human-trafficking-trial-begins-in-florence (2019)
- https://www.waff.com/both-defendants-found-not-guilty-lauderdale-county-human-trafficking-case (2019)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area: