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Media Advisory: Judge to hold community forum on human trafficking

Forum to be held on Nov. 7

WV Press Release Sharing

ST. MARYS, W.Va. – Third Judicial Circuit (Doddridge, Pleasants and Ritchie Counties) Judge Timothy Sweeney is launching a local initiative to stop human trafficking. Judge Sweeney and West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner are scheduled to lead a community forum at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, in the auditorium of St. Marys High School, 2330 N. Pleasants Hwy., St. Marys.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to make victims engage in commercial sex acts or provide labor against their will. 

Human trafficking is significantly underreported, partly due to lack of public awareness, Judge Sweeney said. Still, since its inception in 2007, a state human trafficking hotline has received more than 800 calls, resulting in 550 victims being identified in 246 cases. 

“There is a lack of community awareness of these activities and reporting mechanisms, which is why the initiative is so vital,” said Judge Sweeney. He hopes the forum will help the public learn how to report suspicious behavior. 

West Virginia has partnered with My Mobile Witness to implement a “see something, send something” reporting system. West Virginians can submit human trafficking tips 

  • Online at go.wv.gov/TipsHT, 
  • By emailing [email protected]
  • By calling 1-888.373-7888, 
  • By texting “BeFree” (233733), or
  • By dialing 911 for immediate threats or emergencies. 

Judge Sweeney is in preliminary communications with the local school system to increase awareness of the warning signs of human trafficking activities among students. 

“We hope to prevent victimization, rather than deal with a tragic human trafficking incident,” Judge Sweeney said. 

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