Syracuse, NY — Two women accused of being Syracuse prostitutes appeared this afternoon in the city’s new human trafficking court. The court — one of only 11 in the state and the third Upstate — will hear all prostitution cases in the city of Syracuse.
The goal is to provide services for the prostitutes to get them back on their feet and to determine if they were coerced into working by a pimp under the new sex trafficking law.
It’s part of a new strategy that treats prostitutes as victims and pimps as sex traffickers. The state Attorney General recently charged a Syracuse man with sex trafficking in the alleged coercion of a 15-year-old prostitute.
In today’s court, one of the women met with a court-appointed social worker after appearing before City Court Judge Theodore Limpert. Her case was adjourned for two weeks so she could return with her lawyer and meet further with the social worker.
The other woman told the judge she planned to move to Delaware. She declined the help, pleaded guilty to loitering, a violation, and was ordered to pay a fine.
Limpert believes that many of the prostitutes are being forced to work by pimps. First Chief Assistant District Attorney Rick Trunfio said, in his experience, many of the women are working in exchange for drugs or money to buy drugs.
The new court is part of an effort by Jonathan Lippman, the chief judge of the state Court of Appeals, to look at prostitution as the result of possible sex trafficking. It wasn’t clear in court this afternoon if either of the women were forced into working.