ASU studies links between Superbowl and sex trafficking - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

ASU researchers study links between Superbowl and sex trafficking

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Next year's Super Bowl in Glendale will bring the sports world to the Valley, but there is debate as to whether the event will become a destination for sex trafficking. 

"The Superbowl is not a cause of sex trafficking, it is an unfortunate collateral victim," said Lieutenant Jim Gallagher with the Phoenix Police Department. As some groups like the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women claim there's no evidence showing a spike of trafficking at big events, Phoenix Police and Arizona State University researcher said nearly a quarter of the men buying sex they studied were traveling to the Superbowl to do just that. 

"People are drawn to buying sex or sex tourism during those events because they're away from their family, they're away from constrictions," said ASU professor Dominique Roe-Sepowitz. 

In the days leading up to the Superbowl and during the event, Roe-Sepowitz said they studied online sex ads in the New York/New Jersey area, as well as the Phoenix metro area, since the Valley hosts next year.

"There are several different cues for us to look at like the photo and language of the ad," Gallagher said.

In New York, they found more than 800 potential sex trafficking victims advertised online, and 50 of those were likely minors. In Phoenix, they identified more than 1,000 potential victims, and 34 minors. They also placed decoy ads and received 1,276 unique responses between both areas. 

"Those potential minors are being trafficked and brought into those areas and then brought of those areas with their ads," Roe-Sepowitz said.

Roe-Sepowitz said they didn't see a huge change in the numbers with the Superbowl, but they saw a pattern that has them concerned for 2015. And Phoenix police are paying attention.

"Chief Garcia is very supportive of sex trafficking investigations," Gallagher said. 

"51 weeks of the year, sex trafficking is a problem in our community that we can show in this study," Roe-Sepowitz said. "The volume is overwhelming."

To see the study, visit:

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