via @defede of CBS 4
A child sex trafficking victim, placed under the care of the Department of Children and Families, was raped just days after being sent to a newly opened Miami “safe house,” CBS4 News has learned.
The “safe house” quietly closed after the April assault and child advocates say they are now rethinking their plans to house trafficking victims together in an unsecure group home setting.
“We need to regroup,” admitted Gilda Ferradaz, the regional administrator for DCF in Miami. “We decided not to put any more kids into the safe house until these issues were resolved.”
A state legislator who sponsored last year’s bill creating the safe houses told CBS4’s Jim DeFede he was unaware the house had been closed and dismayed to learn a child was assaulted.
“It’s incredibly sad to me that this girl, that this child really, who had already suffered the trauma of being trafficked sexually went through the system and then for whatever reason ended up a victim again,” said State Representative Erik Fresen.
Fresen’s bill, House Bill 99: The Safe Harbor Act, was passed unanimously by the Legislature last year. Gov Rick Scott signed the law amid great fanfare during a bill signing ceremony in Miami.
“We must do everything possible to protect the victims of this detestable practice and offer them a chance for a healthy and safe future,” Scott said.
Shortly afterward, Senator Marco Rubio and his wife toured what would be South Florida’s first safe house and held a press conference declaring it a significant advancement in the efforts to help victims of human trafficking.
But ten days after that safe house opened one of the girls wandered away from the house without supervision and was raped.
**Note: prior headline changed