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Utah Gets an ‘A’ for Fighting Child Sex Trafficking

December 5, 2019

Shared Hope International Scores Enforcement Standards of Protection for Minors

SALT LAKE CITY – The State of Utah is now ranked among the top in the nation for its dedication to the fight against minor sex trafficking, according to Shared Hope International. See Utah’s report card here.  

In its yearly rankings, Utah received an ‘A’ for its dedication and strength of the state’s laws related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In 2011, Utah received an ‘F’. The amount of progress is due to many factors and dedicated partners, including the tireless efforts of Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, the Attorney General SECURE Strike Force, the ICAC Task Force, the UTIP Task Force, legislation passed by the Utah Legislature and the dedication and commitment of the Governor’s office.

“Combatting human trafficking is an absolute priority for our office,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “There are incredible, dedicated people who work hard every day as part of this effort, and that work is far from over. We will continue to do everything we can to fight this heinous activity.” 

Every year, Shared Hope International, a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating minor sex trafficking, releases report cards for each state in the nation with a grade based on the strength of their laws related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Grades are based on an annual review of state laws as analyzed under the Protected Innocence Challenge Legislative Framework.

States are graded on the analysis and review of six areas:

  • Criminalization of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking 
  • Criminal Provisions for Demand (those who buy)
  • Criminal Provisions for Traffickers (those who sell)
  • Criminal Provisions for Facilitators (those who help)
  • Protective Provisions for Child Victims 
  • Criminal Justice Tools for Investigation & Prosecution

Shared Hope International is a non-profit organization that works to prevent sex trafficking and to bring justice to women and children who have been victimized through sex trafficking. 

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Man Sentenced to Consecutive Terms of Life in Prison for Sex Trafficking a Child

March 13, 2019



SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Joseph Moore was sentenced to two terms of five years up to life in prison for sex trafficking a 16-year-old child and exploiting his own adult daughter for prostitution. Moore was convicted of Human Trafficking, Aggravated Exploitation of Prostitution Involving a Child, and Exploitation of Prostitution, after a three-day jury trial in January 2019.

The key witness in the case was the child victim. She testified that she was befriended by Moore’s adult daughter, who then introduced her to Moore himself. Moore proposed that the two girls could make money through commercial sex work. He helped them set up advertising online, transported them along the Wasatch Front for commercial sex appointments, and collected up to half of the profit made from the commercial sex scheme. The child victim testified that Moore also propositioned her for sex in exchange for money on several occasions, although she refused.

Moore’s conduct amounted to human trafficking because he recruited, solicited, and transported a child for commercial sex. Under state and federal law, the commercial sexual exploitation of children is human trafficking, regardless of whether force was used. Prosecutors argued to the jury that, as an adult, Moore had a responsibility to protect children. Instead, he treated this child victim and his own adult daughter like commodities to be bought and sold.

The jury convicted Moore after a few hours of deliberation. At his sentencing, Judge Valencia with the Second District Court sentenced him to two terms of five years up to life in prison, and another term of zero to five years in prison, all to run consecutively. This is the maximum possible sentence for these charges. Judge Valencia emphasized that the victim impact statement written by the child victim for sentencing was among the most powerful she had ever read.

“To many, it’s shocking that human trafficking can occur here in Utah. But like everywhere in America, it’s a tragic reality in our communities,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “We continue to prioritize these cases and aggressively pursue traffickers who victimize men, women and children of all backgrounds. Survivors of trafficking may suffer their entire lives from the pain and torment they have endured in cases like these.”

“Human trafficking cases are enormously complicated. A victory like this is always the product of a dedicated team attacking the case from several angles,” said Assistant Attorney General Daniel Strong. Attorney General Reyes thanked the following partners, individuals, etc. for their effective work in this case:

  • The Utah Attorney General’s Office’s SECURE Strike Force, which is tasked with investigating human trafficking throughout the state. In particular, SECURE Strike Force Agents served as lead investigators and uncovered important evidence to corroborate the victim’s testimony;
  • The Ogden City Police Department, who initially referred the case and assisted with preparation for trial;
  • Victim service providers with the Refugee and Immigrant Center, Asian Association of Utah (RIC-AAU). They provided comprehensive services to the child victim in this case, untethered to her cooperation in the prosecution.
  • The Utah Attorney General’s Office’s own victim services coordinator, Ruthie Pedregon, who ensured that the victims’ rights were represented at every stage of the proceeding;
  • Assistant Attorneys General Daniel Strong and Tye Christensen, who filed the case, argued important evidentiary motions, presented the trial, and argued at sentencing. Paralegal Michelle Rasmussen kept the case file for the prosecution and assisted in putting together the trial.

Unfortunately, the interfamilial dynamic of this trafficking case is very common. The Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC) estimates that almost half of all child trafficking cases begin with some family member involvement. If you encounter or suspect any form of human trafficking, you can report it to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 888-373-7888.



  1. More information on the SECURE Strike Force:
  2. More information on the UTIP Task Force:

2018 Report Card: Utah & child sex trafficking

November 20, 2018

Every year each state in the union gets a grade on their efforts in the fight against human trafficking by Shared Hope International, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending child sex trafficking. Shared Hope does this in a variety of ways, one of which is advocating in each state for stronger legislation that criminalizes the various aspects of human trafficking.

States are graded on the analysis and review of six areas:

  • Criminalization of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking 
  • Criminal Provisions for Demand (those who buy)
  • Criminal Provisions for Traffickers (those who sell)
  • Criminal Provisions for Facilitators (those who help)
  • Protective Provisions for Child Victims 
  • Criminal Justice Tools for Investigation & Prosecution

Report cards for 2018 were just released and Utah continues to be a leader in the fight against human trafficking. This is due in large part to Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes who is a strong, international voice who speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves.


Human trafficking is a top priority for the Utah Attorney General’s Office carried out by the Utah SECURE Strike Force and Utah Trafficking in Persons Task Force. Due to their action, the state of Utah has made several improvements to their legal code including: 

  • Prohibiting prosecution of children engaged in prostitution and mandating their referral to DCFS for services (2015 amendments)
  • Defining child trafficking as child abuse subject to protections and intervention in juvenile court and through DCFS (2015 amendments)
  • Punishing facilitators/beneficiaries of child trafficking the same as the direct offenders (I’m not sure when this was added)
  • Allowing victims of trafficking to sue their traffickers for civil damages (2017 amendments)

You can read the entire report here: Utah Report Card – Shared Hope 2018

To see how Utah compared to other states, go here:

Photo Courtesy of Shared Hope International