Allegations of sex trafficking found unsubstantiated, church members speak up
Last week, students’ social media blew up regarding a possible sex trafficking scheme that occurred on campus, but University Police later said these claims were unsubstantiated.
The posts detailed encounters involving two women approaching students to talk about God. After asking them to join a bible study, the women asked for the students’ contact information.
University police were alerted of the issue and, after speaking with the women and the students who were approached, found it was not linked to any criminal activity.
“None of the complainants reported or described any criminal conduct that could be attributed to the women,” University Police Chief Jim Duckham said.
Instead, the women were part of the World Mission Society Church of God, which began in South Korea over 50 years ago. Members of the church believe in both God the Father — the creator of heavens and Earth — and God the Mother — the giver of life — as well as the second coming of Christ. The organization has thousands of churches all over the world.
Chris Moulton, who has been a member of the World Mission Society Church of God since 2008, said these allegations are false. Moulton said members typically go to college campuses to talk to students.
The organization has received allegations like this from other universities including the University of Mississippi, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Kennesaw State University. Moulton said allegations like these have affected witnessing efforts throughout the country.
“I was very surprised to hear that there was allegations like that,” Moulton said. “We are in no way, shape or form associated with any type of trafficking.”
Moulton said he isn’t sure where these allegations of human trafficking originated, but said they may have come from someone who is trying to defame the organization.
In the United States, the freedom of religion allows individuals to approach others regarding their religion, whether it’s going door to door or approaching someone on the street.
Moulton said despite this scenario, the church wants to eventually establish a student group at Ball State.
According to statistics from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there have been a total of 547 victims in Indiana with a high level of indication of human trafficking since 2007. In 2017, 50 human trafficking cases were reported in Indiana, with 39 of those cases relating to sex trafficking.
Statistics also said that the top venues or industries for sex trafficking within those 39 cases were hotels/motels, illicit massage or spa business, truck stops, residence-based commercial sex and escort services.
Indicators of human trafficking could include a person who shows signs of physical and mental abuse, dramatic change, being denied food, water, sleep, not having a stable living situation, little freedom and exhibiting fear and submissiveness, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Homeland Security also provides several resources regarding human trafficking including documents, awareness training and awareness videos.
Duckham said that he is not aware of any other reports of sex trafficking made to UPD.