Sex Trafficking Focus of State Bill - 8 News NOW

Sex Trafficking Focus of State Bill

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Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto held a  sex trafficking summit Wednesday at UNLV. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto held a sex trafficking summit Wednesday at UNLV.

LAS VEGAS -- A Las Vegas mother said her heart still aches months after Metro Police rescued her daughter from sex trafficking.

Andrea Swanson's testimony came during a sex trafficking summit hosted by Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Cortez Masto is rallying support for a sex trafficking bill to be introduced in the next legislative session, which begins Feb. 4.

For the first time, key decision makers gathered to tackle sex trafficking in Las Vegas.

Two years ago, Swanson's daughter, Hannah, started selling her body for sex. Hannah's mother said it all stemmed from a lack of self-esteem, a problem many teens suffer.

"During her senior year at Centennial High School, our daughter was systematically manipulated and stolen from my family," Swanson said. "Low self-esteem, she had it, we knew it, we were working on it."

Swanson said Hannah's boyfriend-turned-pimp took advantage and lead her into a life of prostitution.

On Wednesday, Cortez Masto said she is using the summit to gain support for the bill that fights people such as Hannah's boyfriend, or any other perpetrator.

"It talks about increasing penalties to go after not only the perpetrators, the pimps, but also hold the Johns, the men who are buying these young minors," Cortez Masto said.

The bill has the support of dozens of groups, including law enforcement, lawmakers, and even nationwide non-profits who fight sex trafficking, such as the Polaris Project.

"We feel like because there's the momentum here … it's time to really jump on that, to move Nevada's laws even stronger," Polaris Project Executive Director Bradley Myles said. "We do believe that Las Vegas is one of those (sex trafficking) hotspots."

Swanson said she hopes the bill is passed quickly.

"Her pimp -- she calls it her boyfriend -- but her pimp just came out of jail two weeks ago, and she's back with him and so this saga is not over," Swanson said.

Under Nevada law, pandering carries a prison sentence of one to four years.

Cortez Masto's bill changes the word pandering to sex trafficking and increases the penalty to a maximum of 20 years in prison.

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