Trafficking happens right here at home, not just in poor places by "pimps." Surprisingly, it often involves people you would never expect. For example, just last week, Ronald H. Tills, 74, a retired US State Supreme Court Justice, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on a felony charge of transporting prostitutes across state lines.Former New York State Supreme Court Judge is also a Mason. He was convicted of violating the federal Mann Act by transporting a woman across state lines to have sex with his fellow Masons, all members of the Shrine subgroup the Royal Order of Jesters.
In this case, Tills was trafficking a young illegal woman to serve as a prostitute at a convention he was attending. A human trafficking task force investigated the case. Its members included investigators from the FBI, U. S. Border Patrol, and U. S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as well as the Erie and Niagara County sheriff's offices. But this never really made the news — few people heard about it.
As I pondered the case, I couldn't help wondering why most of us hadn't heard about it. Perhaps there were other pressing news bits, but what is more pressing then protecting children and other victims of sexual assault? Is it more important to know whether Dr. Conrad Murray is going to be charged for manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death? Or is it more likely that human trafficking is a crime we simply don't understand — mostly because of a simple problem with semantics?
At one time, according to the Buffalo News (as posted by New York attorney Scott H. Greenfield on his blog Simple Justice, "Tills had the reputation as one of the toughest sentencing judges in Western New York during his ten years as a State Supreme Court judge." He was particular hard when sentencing... wait for it... prostitutes!
Former judge and former brother Tills was sentenced in August to 18 months in federal prison and a $25,000 fine. The woman he took with him to a Jester meeting, called a "book," was an illegal alien who could barely speak English.
Tills is a recovering alcoholic and suffers from heart disease. In his statement before Judge William Skretny, Tills talked about the "possible harm" he caused his victims.
"I pray for their help and recovery if there is any damage, and I pray for their forgiveness."
Tills had also once served as a State Assemblyman and head trustee of his church.
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