The Third Annual Human Trafficking Symposium

Friday, March 2nd, 2018
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

6.75 hours of CLE credit has been approved

Webcast Archive Content

Event Description

This symposium provides a comprehensive look at human trafficking in the United States today, including the laws passed to combat it, the long-term effects on survivors and the social services that play a vital role rebuilding lives.

Legal experts will examine the evolution of state and federal human trafficking laws, how they became crimes, and the many gaps and loopholes that prevent the effective prosecution and conviction of traffickers, while analyzing possible legislation aimed to impose criminal and civil liability on websites that sell sex.

In addition, survivors of human trafficking and social services experts will discuss the unique legal, medical, and psychological effects of human trafficking while educating the audience on the current work being done to reintegrate survivors, particularly LGBT victims, and help them return to healthy, productive lives.

Breakfast and lunch are included in the ticket price. Proceeds from the event will support the clinic and its mission to support survivors of human trafficking.

Speaker Information

Maureen Guirguis (Kenny) is Professor of Law and the Co-Director and co-founder of The Human Trafficking Law Project at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Prior to joining the faculty at CWRU Law School in 2004, Professor Guirguis practiced for six years as an associate in the litigation group at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P. (Squire Patton Boggs). As a Professor of Law, Professor Guirguis runs the Human Trafficking Law Project, which is unique in combatting human trafficking on several fronts. It contains one of the few legal clinics that provides legal representation to juvenile and adult human-trafficking survivors. The Human Trafficking Law Project also works with legislators and advocacy groups to research and initiate legislative reform at both the state and national levels. Finally, the Human Trafficking Law Project is actively involved in raising awareness and educating the public on human-trafficking issues. Professor Guirguis is an expert in state and federal laws affecting human trafficking victims. She has organized and spoken at multiple symposia on topics related to sex trafficking and human-trafficking and she has trained local service providers on legal issues facing trafficking victims. She also created and teaches a lab course for law students that addresses current topics in the field of human trafficking. She is the President of the Board of the Renee Jones Empowerment Center, and serves on the Legislative Subcommittee for Ohio’s Human Trafficking Commission, the Education Committee for the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking, and the Education Committee for S.O.A.P. (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution). She was awarded the “Distinguished Professional Award” in the Field of Human Trafficking by the Red Cord Project in 2017.

Mercedes Gurney is a third-year law student at Case Western Reserve School of Law who is scheduled to graduate in May 2018. She was on the Dean’s List in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 and is a Hugo Grotian Scholar. Ms. Gurney has also participated in Case Law’s Mock Trial team and was honored with being a Cox Center Fellow. She just completed the Human Trafficking Law Lab course in the fall of 2017 and focused her research on the criminalization of prostitution.

Detective Shane Bates is an Agent with the Human Trafficking Task Force commissioned by the Ohio Attorney General. In this position, and as a police officer with the Village of Boston Heights and the City of Independence, Detective Bates has investigated over 100 sexual offense cases. He is also responsible for breaking cases involving large human-trafficking rings in both Cleveland and Akron.

Holly Welsh serves the community as an Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor. Welsh is the supervisor of the Human Trafficking Unit and has prosecuted dozens of defendants for sex trafficking and prostitution related offenses. In addition to human trafficking, she also handles homicide and sexual assault cases. Welsh previously served as the Director of the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, where she prosecuted adults who preyed upon, lured, or exploited children through the Internet.

Welsh obtained her Juris Doctor from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 2007 where she served as a Managing Editor on the Journal of Law and Health. She graduated from the College of Wooster in 2004.

Renee Jones is the President & CEO and founder of the Renee Jones Empowerment Center a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that fosters opportunities for the disadvantaged. The Center’s mission is to empower these individuals to advocate for themselves and to improve their quality of life through personal, social, and professional development. The Center has operated in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood on Cleveland’s near west side since 2002 and provides evening & weekend programs and outreach programs and services in the greater Cleveland area and surrounding suburbs. Since 2008 (RJEC) is the only Northeast Ohio 501(c)(3) agency committed to providing life coaching, direct services and aftercare services through the Project Red Cord program for those with the courage to break the human trafficking cycle and escape the commercial sex industry. Ms. Jones is a graduate of Neighborhood Leadership Cleveland from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs and a graduate of a Treu-Mart Fellowship at the Mandel Center for Non-Profits Organizations at Case Western Reserve University. MHFA (Mental Health First Aid certified) by Recovery Resources and a Graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, Ms. Jones is also a member of the Society for Human Resources Management and a certified Toastmaster with Toastmaster’s International.

Daniel Wolfe is a third-year law student at Case Western Reserve University School of Law who will graduate in May of 2018. Mr. Wolfe is a Senior Editor on the Law Review and the Program Coordinator for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program. Mr. Wolfe just completed the Human Trafficking Law Lab Course and, after graduation, he will serve as a Law Clerk for a Federal Judge in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Judge Denise Rini was elected in November 2012 and was seated on January 1, 2013. The Judge created and runs the Safe Harbor court, which serves the needs of sex-trafficked youth. Since taking the bench, Judge Rini has worked to implement other initiatives focusing on the needs of the community, strengthening families, and providing services to the children of Cuyahoga County, such as Warrant Recall Fridays and CASA of Cuyahoga County. Judge Rini has taken on additional duties as the jurist for the Teen Drug Court, and supervises the Magistrate for Reentry Court. Judge Rini has spent her entire legal career focusing on Juvenile Court advocating for children and families of Cuyahoga County.

Maya Simek is the Managing Legal Director at Equality Ohio in Cleveland, Ohio. Ms. Simek further serves as a Staff Attorney and Lecturer with Case Western Reserve’s Human Trafficking Law Project and as an Adjunct Clinical Professor at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law’s Community Advocacy Clinic. In addition to human trafficking, Ms. Simek focuses her practice on legal issues arising within and impacting the lesbian gay bisexual transgender (LGBT+) community. Other areas of interest for Ms. Simek include community lawyering and the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, particularly with social services, on the efficacy of legal practice. The focus on these areas of interest inspired Ms. Simek’s spearheading of a law clinic for individuals affected by HIV/AIDS engaging in case management services at the Nueva Luz Urban Resource Center in 2012.

Parking Information

Guests are encouraged to park at the Campus Center Parking Garage (Lot S-29) when visiting the Tinkham Veale University Center. The public entrance to the garage is located at 11172 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44106.

The Tinkham Veale University Center is directly accessible to the garage on the first level only. When entering the garage, follow the signs to the left. The entrance to the TVUC is a marked set of gray doors with a wheelchair ramp leading up to them.

Continuing Legal Education Readings


Time Topic
8:30 am Human Trafficking: A Background and Overview
Maureen Guirguis (Kenny), Professor and Co-Director of Human Trafficking Law Project
9:15 am Re-victimizing Victims: How Criminalizing Prostitution Fails Victims of Human Trafficking
Mercedes Gurney, 3rd Year Law Student, Graduate of Human Trafficking Law Lab Course
10:00 am
10:15 am Insider’s Look at Investigating Sex-Trafficking Cases
Shane Bates, Human Trafficking Task Force
11:00 am Prosecuting Complex Human Trafficking Cases
Holly Welsh
11:45 am Break and Grab Lunch (provided)
12:15 pm Lunch and Panel Presentation: Survivors’ Perspectives: Turning Pain into Power
1:00 pm Innovative and Holistic Services for Survivors of Human Trafficking
Renee Jones, CEO and Founder, Renee Jones Empowerment Center
2:00 pm Internet Sex Trafficking: Will the Monster Stop Growing?
Maureen Guirguis (Kenny), Professor and Co-Director of Law Project, CWRU Law School
2:45 pm Bitcoin: How Technology is Increasing and Decreasing the Growth of Sex Trafficking
Daniel Wolfe, CWRU 3rd Year Law Student, Graduate of Human Trafficking Law Lab Course
3:30 pm Break
3:45 pm Providing a ‘Safe Harbor’ for Sex-Trafficked Youth in the Court System
Judge Denise Rini, Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge, Safe Harbor Court
4:30 pm Increased Risks for LBGT Population’s Involvement in Human Trafficking
Maya Simek, Staff Attorney, Human Trafficking Law Project

Event Location

Tinkham Veale University Center
11038 Bellflower Rd
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

The 3rd Annual Human Trafficking Law Symposium

Maureen Guirguis (Kenny)
Professor and Co-Director of Human Trafficking Law Project
Mercedes Gurney
3rd Year Law Student, Graduate of Human Trafficking Law Lab Course
Shane Bates
Human Trafficking Task Force
Holly Welsh
Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor
Renee Jones
CEO and Founder, Renee Jones Empowerment Center
Daniel Wolfe
CWRU 3rd Year Law Student, Graduate of Human Trafficking Law Lab Course
Judge Denise Rini
Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge, Safe Harbor Court
Maya Simek
Staff Attorney, Human Trafficking Law Project


Academic Centers and Continuing Legal Education Programs