In February, Kansas Judge Michael Gibbens came under fire in national news for claiming that two girls, ages 13 and 14, acted as “aggressors” when 67-year-old Eugene Soden paid them to have sex. Judge Gibbens questioned how the girls could be uncomfortable or traumatized when they voluntarily had sex and accepted money for it. What makes them an aggressor? Accepting money? Taking their clothes off “voluntarily” because someone behind the scenes is threatening them? According to leaders from Combatting Human Trafficking and Shared Hope International, since 2014, more than 79 Kansas minors were criminalized for offenses related to child sex trafficking.
In response to Judge Gibbens', Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt proposed a new law to prevent judges from reducing sentences for adult sex offenders when the child is labeled “aggressor”. Kansas lawmakers rejected the bill. Well, just over one year ago, Feb. 1, 2018 – a bill was passed by Kansas Senator Mike Peterson. SR 1764 reads the bill is for “Opposing human trafficking and urging a dismantling of human trafficking networks.” Does the case 67-year-old Eugen Soden apply here? What is the right thing to do?