As with just about every big sporting event, the Super Bowl is bringing more than just sports fans to the area. Police and community groups are watching for an increase in prostitution and sex trafficking. NY1's Criminal Justice reporter Dean Meminger filed the following story.
It may be a not-so-super Super Bowl for people who hook up with prostitutes. Local police are ready to make arrests – and to help people who are victims of the sex trade. Community organizations are also working to place anti-prostitution posters around the city.
Former judge Judy Harris Kluger, the executive director of Sanctuary for Families, says the posters are "going to go on billboards, they are going to go on hotel doorknobs, basically to let our guests know that it is a crime -- a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail -- to buy sex in New York State."
Kluger says there is a real concern about prostitution and sex trafficking. And the awareness campaign is bold and in-your-face with messages like this one: “Football's big game is also a premier event for sex trafficking.”
Kluger warns, “The people who are doing that should know that they are exploiting women and children and men who are forced into this life."
Law enforcement sources say there have already been arrests in New York leading up to the big game. Some of the prostitutes involved are from out of town. New Jersey police say officers on both sides of the Hudson River are investigating prostitution associated with Super Bowl gatherings.
Colonel Rick Fuentes of the New Jersey State Police says, "I can tell you that between New York State and police departments in this area -- troopers, local police officers, county police officers -- have been trained to recognize this activity. And of course of most importance is whether children are involved in this trafficking."
Sanctuary for Families says that whether it's working the streets or working as a highly paid escort, difficult life circumstances lead people to sell their bodies. And those buying should know they're contributing to an often brutal existence for prostitutes.
Kluger recounts the story of "someone raped multiple times over the course of a night to get them ready, to break them. And that is not an unusual story; that is not an unusual story."
Police say prostitutes who are arrested will be offered assistance and counseling, especially if it's discovered they have been forced into the lifestyle.
IF YOU NEED HELP
Those looking for assistance can call:
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center
Sanctuary for Families