Yesterday, Madison County court records revealed Guntersville High School soccer coach, David Barrow, has been charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years old and two counts of human trafficking. The criminal complaint states that Barrow did "knowingly, obtain, recruit, entice, solicit, induce, threaten, isolate, harbor, hold, restrain, transport, provide or maintain" one and/or two girls "for the purpose of causing them to engage in sexual servitude."
Barrow's arrest shines a spotlight on the pervasiveness of human trafficking crimes, even in the Huntsville - Madison County area. A study funded by the National Institute of Justice estimated the number of American children and youth at risk of child exploitation, including commercial sexual exploitation, to be 244,000 in 2000. The average age for victims is 13-years-old, and the illegal sex trade is estimated to be a $9.5 billion industry in the U.S. alone.
Findings published in 2001 derived from a project involving a partnership between organizations in the U.S, Canada, and Mexico revealed that, 90% of all the children and youth trafficked for sexual purposes in the U.S. are citizens of the United States. While the majority (60%) of these children are either runaways, throwaways, or homeless youth, a substantial number of children living at home also are involved in the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC), including:
- Junior and senior high school students involved in the makingand distribution of non-commercial pornography
- Junior and senior high school students involved in commercial prostitution with their peer group
- Youth living near international borders who cross those borders in pursuit of cheap alcohol, drugs and sex (either with other Americans or the nationals of these countries)
Barrow, who has been suspended from his volunteer position, was arrested May 9th, just one week before the inaugural meeting of an Alabama State Task Force created to combat such crimes (including sex and labor trafficking, and eleven days before the U.S. House of Representatives passed five anti-human trafficking bills this past Tuesday. Barrow has a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 19.