Attorney General, advocates worry there could be more victims in trafficking case
The Attorney General’s office said there could be more victims, and survivor advocates agree.
“Utah needs to wake up,” said January Riggin, executive director for Soap 2 Hope, a non-profit that’s dedicated to helping survivors of human trafficking.
Riggin, an advocate for survivors, isn’t surprised about the recent arrest of Bountiful resident Michael Joe Ricks.
The 49-year-old — who’s accused of leading a sex-trafficking ring — was booked on investigation of aggravated exploitation of prostitution, exploiting prostitution, aiding prostitution, and drug distribution.
“People would’ve never guessed this guy. He has a family, credentials,” said Riggin. “Obviously, he’s friends with some powerful people.”
In referring to the “powerful people,” Riggin is talking about 50-year-old Patrick Kevin Driscoll.
Driscoll is a Salt Lake City IT employee, who court documents allege gave Ricks insider police information in exchange for money and sex.
The arresting documents indicate the extent of Driscoll’s abuse of power is still unknown.
“I don’t even think they’ve sifted through all of it right now. It’s the beginning stages of that and I think more will come out,” said Riggin.
Petey McKnight, another advocate for survivors, agrees.
“Unfortunately, Utah is not immune to human trafficking,” he said.
McKnight is the Chairman Board for Aspen Magdalene House, a non-profit organization working to raise funds for Utah’s first Magdalene House for survivors of sex-trafficking.
According to McKnight, right now, survivors that come through their non-profit have to go out-of-state for treatment.
Furthermore, McKnight said Utah has a disproportionate number of women calling the national human-trafficking hotline for help.
“We’re in the top 10 of states in the United States,” he said.
Victims, as Ricks’ and Driscoll’s cases show, are key in helping authorities build a case.
Court documents say it was the victims who led detectives to Ricks and Driscoll.
Riggin, a survivor herself, hopes this case will spark change, not just for Ricks’ and Driscoll’s alleged victims, but for the community.
“This might be the case to break some of that ice here in Utah of having these conversations. Like hey! no one is immune,” Riggin said.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article erroneously identified Patrick Driscoll as an employee of the Salt Lake City Police Department.
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