Acceptance Speech for Wellstone Award Freedom Network 2010 Conference. this award, and thank you Freedom Network for bestowing this

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1 Acceptance Speech for Wellstone Award Freedom Network 2010 Conference Thank you Safe Horizon, Shonnie and Florrie for nominating me for this award, and thank you Freedom Network for bestowing this tremendous honor upon me. I am extremely grateful to be this year s Wellstone Award recipient and to be in the company of such distinguished and extraordinary past recipients. To be given an award named after Paul and Sheila Wellstone -- two tireless public servants who dedicated their lives to bettering the lives of others, especially the victims of human trafficking and domestic violence -- is, indeed, humbling. The efforts of Paul and Sheila Wellstone to achieve passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act is a remarkable legacy that has, literally, saved countless lives and improved the plight of men, women and children around the world. I can only aspire to live up to their example. While, nominally, I am the person receiving this award, it really belongs to the many dedicated, skilled and fearless professionals with whom I work on a daily basis in the battle against human trafficking.

2 First, this award belongs to many of the people in this room. It is no exaggeration to say that my office would not have been able to prosecute most of our trafficking cases without our NGO partners. Safe Horizon, the City Bar Justice Center, The Door, IOFA, the Urban Justice Center s Sex Workers Project, Sanctuary for Families, Catholic Charities, AALDEF and the Asian Women s Center, to name just some of them. Without their efforts and their willingness to work with law enforcement -- which can be frustrating and probably the last thing they ever expected to be doing -- I certainly would not be here accepting this award. Our NGO partners in New York are not only responsible for identifying the vast majority of our trafficking victims, but they provide the indispensable support and advocacy to the survivors that enables them to participate in the criminal justice process and, more importantly, to improve their lives. This award also belongs to the many prosecutors, paralegals and other professionals in my Office -- the U.S. Attorney s Office for the Eastern District of New York -- who are doing the hard work, and putting in the long days and nights, investigating and prosecuting these cases. While I d love to claim credit for my office s many successful

3 prosecutions, I know that Monica Ryan, one of the prosecutors in the Carreto case, as well as Shonnie and Florrie, are here to keep me honest. I m very fortunate to have U.S. Attorneys who ve been unstinting in their support of our anti-trafficking work, and to have a vast roster of talented and committed prosecutors who want to work on these cases. This award also belongs to the many federal and State law enforcement agencies and prosecutors officers who are part of our two anti-trafficking task forces in New York -- one in the City and one in Long Island. We are lucky in New York to have two large and robust task forces, and to have the commitment of our many member law enforcement agencies -- ICE, FBI, Dept of Labor, NYPD, the Suffolk and Nassau County Police Departments and the District Attorneys offices throughout the New York metro area -- working together to fight trafficking.

4 Finally, this award belongs to the countless survivors of trafficking whose courage, determination and dignity dwarf the achievements of those of us who work in this area. A moment ago, I mentioned the Carreto case, which, to me, is an amazing example of the tenacity and courage of the survivors and the transformation that is possible because of the commitment and hard work of everyone in this room. Many of you know about this case, and certainly everyone from New York has heard me speak about it at every trafficking forum. Carreto was a case involving the sex trafficking of young Mexican women by an extended family of traffickers, the Carretos. When my office first encountered the victims in this case, they were so traumatized, fearful and even ashamed that they could not tell us about what had happened to them. But, by the end of the case, after having the benefit of almost a year of support, guidance and advocacy from their case managers and lawyers at Safe Horizon, Urban Justice Center, the City Bar and Catholic Charities, their lives were transformed. All of the defendants pled guilty in the case. And, at sentencing,

5 each of the victims spoke and, in a huge, packed courtroom, told the judge about what these defendants had done to them and how it had affected them. But, the most amazing part was that after the judge sentenced the first defendant to 50 years, the lawyer for the next defendant made the following argument: Judge, I ve been a lawyer in this courthouse for many years and handled many types of cases, including murder cases. And even in those cases where someone was murdered, the defendant didn t get a 50-year sentence. At least, here, no one died. One of the victims raised her hand and asked Monica if she could speak again. When she did, she told the judge that she heard what that man -- meaning the defense lawyer -- said about no one dying. But that s not true. When I worked for Josue Carreto, I got pregnant and he forced me to have an abortion so that I could continue working, and to me, that was a death. That moment encapsulates the importance of the work that all of us in this room do. The fact that this victim, who had been so abused and traumatized, felt empowered to say that she had been so wronged and mistreated by the defendant spoke volumes about the importance of the

6 work that we do. ************** Now, I d like to close on a slightly more personal note. When I was thinking about what to say during this acceptance speech, I happened to come across Emily Dickinson s poem I Dwell in Possibility. And for some reason, that thought stuck in mind as defining the difference between what you as members of the Freedom Network do and what I, as a prosecutor, do. You in the NGO community dwell in possibility -- what can and should be possible for the victims of human trafficking. You look toward the future, and strive and struggle to make the possible a reality for the victims. You give the victims hope and you help them aspire and achieve. I, on the other hand, as a prosecutor, focus on the past -- and usually a pretty grim past, at that. My focus is on the crime, the injustice, the victimization that occurred before. My goal is to make sure that the perpetrator is held accountable and punished for these past transgressions. But, by working on trafficking cases and getting the chance to work closely with the victims and you, their NGO caseworkers and advocates,

7 I ve had the opportunity to see and experience the transformation and restoration of the victims lives. And I ve experienced the gratification of being a part -- even if but a small part -- of something forward-looking, positive, hopeful and sometimes joyous. So, in closing, thank you again for this award and thank you for letting me share in your vision of the future, and for allowing me to dwell with you in possibility.

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