Eddie Farnsworth Blocked Hearing for Anti-Child-Sex-Trafficking Bill, Time Running Out for Striker
Wanna crack down on the sexual exploitation of minors? Then Eddie is not your man.
Pimps selling child prostitutes and the johns who buy them can rest easy knowing that Republican Eddie Farnsworth is chair of the state House Judiciary Committee.
Despite broad support from both Republicans and Democrats, Farnsworth refused to allow a hearing on House Bill 2569,which would have closed a legal loophole for those selling teenagers for sex, increasing the sentencing range upon conviction, from seven to 21 years up to 13 to 27 years for a first offense.
The bill was the result of a joint task force chaired by Republican Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat. During several meetings, stakeholders discussed how to combat the problem of child sex trafficking in our state, which has received low marks on the subject from advocacy groups.
Albert Farnsworth, Eddie's nephew, currently doing 30 years in stir for kidnapping and raping a 12-year-old girl
Jodi Liggett, a senior policy adviser to Mayor Stanton, explained there is a range of things that can be done to address the problem.
However, the one thing everyone on the task force could agree on was closing the aforementioned loophole, which treats the selling and buying children under 15 for sex differently than when the victim is 15 to 17 years old.
"There are pretty stiff penalties if you're soliciting or selling someone under the age of 15," Liggett told me. "But if the victim is 15, 16 or 17, relatively speaking, it's a slap on the wrist. So we wanted to wipe that out."
She said the joint task force included prosecutors, researchers, academics, and cops from the Phoenix Police Department's vice squad.
"We had everybody and their cousin on that joint committee," Liggett said. "And we reached a consensus that closing this loophole would be a good first step for Phoenix and Arizona to take, making it a more hostile environment here for traffickers."
Indeed, Shared Hope, an international advocacy group opposed to child sex trafficking issued a 2012 report card for Arizona, giving the state a "C" rating. The organization cited this loophole in the law as one reason for the poor grade.
A close reading of Arizona Revised Statute 13-3212 reveals that if prosecutors cannot prove someone knowingly engaged in prostitution with a minor 15 and up on a first offense, the crime is knocked down to a class six felony. A perpetrator could skate with as little as 90 days in county jail.
Shared Hope has reported that according to crime stats, the average age of a minor forced into prostitution in Phoenix for the first time is 14.83 years, and from 2006 to 2010, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office prosecuted 87 cases involving buyers or sellers of sex with child prostitutes.