Bethlehem Press

Monday, September 16, 2019
Fight against human trafficking Lehigh Co. DA Jim Martin lauded Fight against human trafficking Lehigh Co. DA Jim Martin lauded

Fight against human trafficking Lehigh Co. DA Jim Martin lauded

Tuesday, September 3, 2019 by The Press in Local News

District Attorney Jim Martin was received an award in acknowledgement of his work in the fight against human trafficking. The Victory through Service Award was given to Martin by Aspire, a local organization working to assist victims of human trafficking, at the group’s first anniversary event in July. The award is sponsored by Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania, which is an organization working toward elevating victims’ rights through the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Martin was one of three recipients. He received his award in the Public Servant category. Lisa Pektor, president of PennCap Properties, was presented the award for the Company category. Hope Sabbaugh, a field worker for VAST (Valley against Sex Trafficking), received the Front-Line Fighter award.

Aspire’s mission is to provide an environment of safety, healing and empowerment that will equip victims of trafficking with the services and programs that are essential to their pursuit of independence. Its objectives are to provide the following: comprehensive case management to trafficking victims; housing ranging from emergency shelters to independent living; and a peer-led drop-in center where victims can get support, interact with other victims, and get linked to resources.

The award ceremony was part of a larger event during which local wineries, breweries, and distilleries joined with local restaurants to supply refreshments for the attendees. In addition, the Art for Autonomy Fundraiser took place to assist Aspire in attaining the its goals.

In an effort to combat human trafficking in Lehigh County, DA Martin and the Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center (RIIC) recently partnered with Lehigh University; AEquitas, a prosecutor’s resource; and The Why, a nonprofit whose mission is to eradicate modern slavery in the fashion industry and to economically empower survivors. The goal of the partnership is to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) application to identify potential human trafficking victims and perpetrators within police incident narratives.

This partnership is part of a larger initiative coordinated by District Attorney Martin, the objective of which will be to attack human trafficking in Lehigh County.

“I am humbled and gratified to have received the Victory through Service Award for the part I’ve played in Lehigh County’s fight against human trafficking,” said Martin. “It truly is a team effort, and I, therefore, share this honor with all of those working with me to eradicate this scourge from our area. I thank Aspire for recognizing our efforts, and I commend them for the work they are doing.”

Contributed article