PORTLAND, Maine — Cumberland County District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck says sex trafficking "is not a victimless crime."
He calls it a consistent problem in Maine that is suddenly getting a lot of attention after Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with soliciting prostitution from a Flordia day spa that was shut down by investigators there.
In Maine, human trafficking is not particularly worse than any other part of the United States.
A 2015 study by a state non-profit showed Maine police dealt with between 200 and 300 sex trafficking cases, most victims being white women ranging in age from 14 to 30.
Many had a history of being sexually abused or were victims of domestic violence.
"We've seen victims who've been from Maine, grown up in Maine, we've seen victims who came from New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C.," said Sahrbeck who added that the state's opioid crisis is not helping combat sex trafficking.
"When you have somebody who deals drugs to get money, those people also deal with human beings to get money," he said.
For others in the state, the Kraft allegations highlighted a different debate: whether or not prostitution should be legalized to combat human trafficking.
"The Robert Kraft story is just one example of the need," said Cynthia Dill, a former state legislator, and civil rights lawyer.
"If what the market demands is sex work then let's have a free market, let's empower workers and let's give them the law enforcement and the protection of the law that they need."
While there are not any imminent plans for legal prostitution to be considered by current Maine lawmakers, the problem itself remains.
"There's sex trafficking going on Cumberland County, there's sex trafficking going on in the state of Maine and wherever it's happening, it's unacceptable," said Johnathan Sahrbeck.