Group out to aid sex trade victims

Founders of a newly minted local nonprofit are determined to do something about sex trafficking and the exploitation of teenage girls — they are looking to the community for help.

Keri Spencer, executive director of RISE Corp., said operators at the National Human Trafficking Hotline fielded 292 calls from Oklahoma in 2014. That's an average of 24 calls each month, and 30 percent of those involved minors.

Spencer said RISE — an acronym for Restoring Identity after Sexual Exploitation — wants to offer a haven for girls who have been victims of human trafficking and are trying to escape. The organization's directors hope to find property where they can open a shelter.

"Nationwide we have more than 13,000 animal shelters, but there are less than 30 shelters for minor victims of sex trafficking," Spencer said. "Oklahoma has only one such shelter, which provides six beds, and two of them are reserved for emergency placement."

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