(OSV News) — While teaching in a Louisiana public elementary school several years ago, Janice Henry was haunted by one particular student.
“The child was so tired that she kept falling asleep. She was unable to keep herself awake in class,” Henry, a retired educator and member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Peter Claver, told OSV News.
When Henry visited the school’s cafeteria, her unease deepened.
“She’d kind of get herself together by lunchtime, and then I would overhear her conversations,” Henry said. “She would talk about staying at a hotel and being able to swim in the pool.”
The experienced teacher said she also was alarmed by changes in the girl’s appearance: professionally braided hair, designer nails, “coming to class having a little lip gloss on.”
“I had seen the child all through the years,” said Henry. “She had not been able to afford those things previously. It just didn’t feel right in my spirit.”
Henry shared her concerns with school administrators, but “they just kind of brushed it off,” she said. “I guess they thought I was being overly (cautious), or seeing things.”
But “God just wouldn’t let me leave it alone,” said Henry, who suspected the girl was being trafficked for sex.
Henry consulted a relative working for the Department of Homeland Security, who was able to look into the case and confirm Henry’s worst fears: The student had been recruited by an older girl into a dance troupe that was a front for the sexual exploitation of minors.
“I don’t believe the (girl’s) parents knew at all” about the trafficking, Henry told OSV News. “They were working a lot, and just out of the loop.”
Category: Catholic Church