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Conference at NFA focuses on dangers of human trafficking

By Claire Bessette

Publication: The Day

Published May 15. 2014 4:00AM

Norwich — The news about 276 Nigerian girls kidnapped by terrorists who threatened to sell them into slavery is making headlines and shocking people throughout the world.

But panelists at a special conference today at Norwich Free Academy will stress that the horrors of human sex trafficking hit home, too - in Norwich and the Norwich Free Academy community.

Norwich Human Services and the League of Women Voters of Southeastern Connecticut will host the Human Trafficking Conference from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. today in the Ensemble Room at the Sidney Frank Center at NFA.

Lee Ann Gomes, assistant director and supervisor of social work at Norwich Human Services, said her agency decided to co-host the conference after a client came to the department with the story of her daughter, who was caught in human trafficking in New York City. The woman plans to speak at today's conference, Gomes said.

"Kids don't know about this," she said. "They just don't know about the dark side of the world."

In addition to the woman telling her personal story, the conference will feature several speakers working to combat human trafficking in the state.

State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, a co-sponsor of a new law signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy last June that stiffens penalties for those convicted of prostitution, broadens language that allows the state to confiscate properties and money connected to prostitution, will address the conference.

Other speakers include William Rivera, director of multicultural affairs and immigration issues at the state Department of Children and Families; Krystal Ambrozaitis, case manager for anti-human trafficking at International Institution; and Kelly Coull, women's studies teacher at NFA.

The speakers will focus on circumstances leading to human trafficking, ways to identify and report the crime, and services available to victims.

c.bessette@theday.com

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