Boulder, Colorado Attorney Beth Klein makes change and history in fight against human trafficking.
More than 125 local cops, doctors, teachers, philanthropists and citizens recently gathered for the biggest anti-human-trafficking conference ever held on Colorado’s Western Slope. That one-day summit happened because Glenwood Springs Attorney Angela Roff asked Boulder Attorney Beth Klein to make it happen.
Beth Klein, a Boulder attorney has a history of making things happen: she wrote Colorado’s 2010 and 2011 anti-human trafficking laws. Former Governor Hickenlooper appointed her to the Colorado Children’s Trust Fund Board, the body that established Colorado’s Child Abuse Hotline. She co-established the Frank Klein Foundation, which works in three areas: law, community empowerment and leadership development.
It was the Klein Frank Foundation that sponsored the recent anti-human-trafficking summit at CMC in Rifle, offering it for free to anyone who wanted to attend. Law enforcement and prosecution teams traveled from Denver, Aurora, Ft. Collins, and Douglas County to share their knowledge. A group of physicians from Valley View Hospital came; they wanted to learn the signs of victimization so that they could help patients. Five officers from the Rifle Police attended. A group of co-workers from Alpine Bank’s risk management division showed up; they wanted to be able to recognize how human traffickers arrange their financing.
Klein, says “anti-trafficking is really about creating a cohesive community where everyone cares for each other and no one is left out.” The law she wrote helps with that effort because it “allows us not just to go after the pimp, but the whole gang, the delivery driver, the hotels…”
Thanks to laws written by Beth, trafficking is defined not only as a criminal offense, but also a civil offense, one in which victims can sue for three times the amount of damages plus attorneys’ fees. Over the years, Beth has represented “many, many clients”. She says, “Every single one, no matter how bad it was, they have gone through major transformations and have gone on to do amazing things.”
One former client has been elected to a city council. The last victim she represented, a 65-year-old woman who was kept chained as a work slave, won a $4.5 million legal judgment against the “Romeo pimp” who tortured and electrocuted her.
Klein explains that human trafficking here in Colorado generally takes two forms: traffic for the sex trade and migrant workers abused by agricultural firms. Local residents may not be aware of it, but law enforcement authorities across multiple states recognize I-70 as a human trafficking corridor. Because I-70 and I-25 cross in Colorado, Denver is a hotspot.
“I want people here in Carbondale to know that kids here are at risk,” says Klein. As we learned at the summit, trafficking typically happens when there are income disparities, when families are struggling to make ends meet. Their kids have problems and they wind up making dangerous choices to survive.”
“When a 14-year-old girl is getting picked up from school early, if she’s suddenly carrying around a Chanel bag in Carbondale, if she’s suddenly wearing clothing that’s not representative of her social status, that’s when you need to pay attention,” Klein explains.
“What you look for is kids in the wrong place at the wrong time; they’re not in school when they should be. Or if they’re in school, there’s been a dramatic change in behavior. They’re not the same as they were a year ago.”
The next two Klein Frank Foundation anti-trafficking conferences arebeing organized and will be held in Grand Junction and Cheyenne Wyoming. Those interested in donation, attending, or participating in any fashion may call the Klein Frank Foundation at (303) 448-8884 and ask for Beth Klein.