Anti-Sex Trafficking Awareness Forum in Wenatchee
The film "Sound of Freedom" starring Jim Caviezel has raised awareness about the trafficking of children globally and in this country.
The film has also sparked interest in learning about what is happening in local communities and how to keep their families and neighborhood's safe from predators.
On Tuesday, October 10th, a free forum and panel discussion on child sex trafficking will be held in Wenatchee, featuring representatives with Operation Underground Railroad and Unit+E Response Team.
Speakers include Nate Lewis, Chief Development Officer Operation Underground Railroad
• Tye Holand, Special Ops Operation Underground Railroad
• Lane Terzieff, Founder Unit+E Response Team
• Brian Lewis, Detective Sergeant Chelan County Sheriff’s Office
The event will include demonstrations by a Seattle Police Department K9 unit trained to detect electronic devices like computer hardware that may contain evidence of child sex trafficking.
A Q&A session is planned after the presentations.
Lewis explains Operation Underground Railroad is the organization founded by Tim Ballard, the role depicted by actor Jim Caviezel in "Sound of Freedom"
The film's storyline was based on an operation conducted about 10 years ago. "We've done thousands of operations ever since. But that was one that CBS News covered and the producers of the film saw that and said wow, this is like a real superhero story. We should make a movie about it." The film producers contacted Ballard and they ended up making the movie based on the rescue operation depicted in the film.
Sex trafficking is a huge global business and the film is an eye opener and disturbing.
Lewis says the goal of the Wenatchee forum is to educate people and inform them of some of the realities of sex trafficking. "When I was a kid it was don't take candy from a stranger, or who's that at the park but kids are online, they're on social media, they're on gaming devices on apps and the predators are there too."
Lewis directs families to a website called FamilyWatchDog.us to search a database registry of sex offenders around your area.
While the exploits of Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) captured the attention of Angel Studios which released the film Sound of Freedom, Lewis explains OUR didn't earn money from the movie. The group operates in all 50 states by providing training to police and prosecutors to gather online evidence from chat forums and messaging systems. OUR has also provided devices to unlock phones. "We're basically providing all that for free to law enforcement where their budget gaps may not be able to provide that capability." according to Lewis.
Lewis says the dangers of exploitation will be discussed for example; adult men pretending to be young boys on the internet and through social media, communicating with vulnerable girls. Teens and pre-teens need to have open conversations with parents about being careful and learning how an innocent picture with friends in their bathing suits in public and shared online can end up being sold on the dark web.
Lewis is an Eastmont High School grad and native of East Wenatchee. He got involved with Operation Underground Railroad when he was working in the film and television industry, a career he had worked in for about 20 years. That is his connection to Mt. Vernon, WA native Jim Caviezel who he has worked closely with on a number of projects. "He called me one day and said, hey, you got to come down to Columbia. I'm playing this guy's a real life superhero. His name's Tim Ballard. He rescues kids from sex trafficking. I was like this can't be true. And started doing some research and then wasn't much longer than I was ended up going down and meeting with Tim and meeting with some of the people that worked for OUR."
- The Anti-Sex Trafficking Forum is October 10th, 6pm at Wenatchee High School Auditorium
- Registration to attend this free event is online at Eventbrite.com Search for “Anti-Sex Trafficking” in Wenatchee
- For more information on the forum, visit FlashLightInitiative.com