ST. LOUIS — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is facing charges for soliciting prostitution at a Florida spa, and investigators believe the women working there were victims of sex trafficking.
Advocates are hopeful the high-profile case will shed light on the problem nationwide, including here in St. Louis.
"People in St. Louis don't like to think there's women, children and boys being trafficked here,” Katie Rhoades said.
Katie is a survivor of sex trafficking.
She got out when she was 21, went to college and came to St. Louis to earn her graduate degree in social work at Washington University.
Now, she runs Healing Action, an organization that helps current and former victims of sex trafficking in our area. They serve 100 women, and there's a waiting list.
Katie said it's hard to know just how pervasive sex trafficking is here, but numbers from the National Human Trafficking Hotline paint a concerning picture.
In 2017, the hotline reported 140 cases of human trafficking in Missouri and 193 in Illinois.
"It's a big problem,” Katie said. "I think it can hopefully prompt folks to try to talk about it more, for women to try to take the blinders off."
Click here for more information on how to recognize signs of human trafficking.