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Sex-traffic survivors set to speak

Film fund-raiser open to public on Tuesday in Maumee

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Celia Williamson, a University of Toledo professor of social work, will be the guest speaker at “A Night for Freedom,” a night of sex-traffic survivors sharing their stories and other guests talking about educating the public about the issue.

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They’re enticed with parties overflowing with drugs and booze. Some are hungry and homeless, desperate for food and shelter. Others are taken by force.

According to law enforcement statistics, more than 1,000 young people in Ohio are victims of sex trafficking every year, Celia Williamson, a University of Toledo professor of social work and expert on the problem, said recently.

Ms. Williamson will be the guest speaker at “A Night for Freedom,” a night of sex-traffic survivors sharing their stories and other guests talking about educating the public about the issue.

The event, open to the public, will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Maumee Indoor Theater, 601 Conant St., Maumee.

There is no charge to attend the event, “but contributions will be used to complete the filming of Shadow on the Heartland, a documentary about sexual trafficking in Ohio,” said the Rev. Steve Feazel, a retired minister of the Church of the Nazarene. The Rev. Feazel has previously produced three award-winning Christian-themed films.

IF YOU GO

What: ‘A Night for Freedom’

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Maumee Indoor Theater, 601 Conant St.

“This is the first time we’re doing this through a mission model, not a film model,” said the Rev. Feazel. All contributions will be used to cover production costs and distribution of DVDs to every school, about 5,000 total, in Ohio. The goal is to have the film ready for distribution by September, he said.

“We’re not selling the DVDs for profit,” he said. “We’ll only charge what they cost to make.”

The Rev. Feazel estimated it will take about $200,000 to produce and distribute the movie the way he wants. He did not say how much money has been raised so far, but did say the White Castle restaurant chain has donated $10,000 and Ariel Corp. of Mount Vernon, Ohio, the world’s largest manufacturer of separable reciprocating gas compressors, donated $2,000.

The goal is to make the DVDs accessible to young people, he said.

Adults and youths will be instructed on how to recognize potential traffickers and how to take precautions.

The idea to make the film came to him after realizing traditional methods of getting young people’s attention don’t always work anymore, the Rev. Feazel said.

“Having been a minister, I just saw the fact that kids don’t read, they watch a screen,” the Rev. Feazel said. “They know how to turn off a lecture.”

The film will be narrated by Melanie Murphy, who has been both Miss Ohio and Mrs. Ohio.

She is a youth pastor who works with sex-traffic victims in Third World countries, the Rev. Feazel said.

Gov. John Kasich has already recorded a segment for the film, which will also feature state Democratic leaders and religious leaders from various denominations, he said.

See a clip from the movie at shadowontheheartland.com.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.

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