Woman Sex Trafficked as Teen Seeks Pardon

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Hope Zeferjohn’s soon-to-be pimp found her 100 miles away from where they had met through her family, The Washington Post reports. He had pretended to be her father so authorities would tell him where she now lived. Zeferjohn was a teen, living in Salina, Kan., where she was in the state’s juvenile offender program for a misdemeanor battery charge after growing up in Topeka, according to KCUR and the Topeka Capital-Journal. She and the trafficker, Anthony Long, fell into an abusive relationship. Long sold videos of them having sex and forced Zeferjohn to recruit other girls for prostitution, KCUR reported.

“I was like the prisoner and he was like a warden,” Zeferjohn, now 21, told KCUR. “Coming to prison, it’s not … a big adjustment to me, which is pretty bad. I had no choice but to obey him.” Zeferjohn later pleaded guilty to an aggravated human trafficking charge for allegedly helping Long find other girls. Two years into her nearly six-year prison sentence, Zeferjohn is seeking a pardon from Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) — a controversial request that highlights the complicated dynamics of holding a trafficking victim responsible for helping to victimize others. Sex traffickers commonly use violence to compel one of their victims to serve as a “bottom” who recruits other girls to the operation, said Bradley Myles, chief executive of Polaris, a nonprofit that fights human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

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