While doing some book research yesterday, I discovered an organization called Operation Underground Railroad that rescues trafficked children and helps them recover from their trauma. Since writing Dangerous Ground and all the research involved, I’ve been more acutely aware of these horrendous stories. As a matter of fact, even though I tried to carefully depict the tragedy of sex trafficking in my novel, I see now that what I found while researching was only the tip of the iceberg. The situation is even more horrific than the dozens of stories and statistics I read about. I’m so grateful for those organizations that are doing everything they possibly can to rescue, heal, and offer new life to those who have suffered in this way. I still continue to donate half of all the proceeds from my book, Dangerous Ground, to three such organizations.
But I was speechless when I found another group that claims to have rescued more children than all the other groups put together. They’ve been in business for 41 years. In Los Angeles. I had no idea that Children of the Night even existed. Their mission statement says “Empower.
But that’s not the speechless part.
As I scrolled through their board of directors, I saw the name Cooper Hefner.
That’s right. The son of the man who introduced pornography as America’s favorite pastime. Cooper is currently the CCO for the Playboy enterprise. He’s furthering his father’s legacy to expand the porn industry.
And sitting on the board of an organization that rescues children from the same people who feed on that industry.
Can we say “conflict of interest”?
I decided I had to write the founder and question how they could justify this. Here is the email I sent her and her response to me.
“I was so impressed when I found your site and organization. Sex trafficking is a horrific crime that needs to stop. I had no idea that you have been around so long. Your statistics are impressive. So I decided to look more closely into your team. I grew up in Los Angeles. Perhaps someone I know is part of your cause. I considered donating. Until I scrolled through your board of directors and see that Cooper Hefner, the CCO of Playboy is one of them. I’m still so stunned I can hardly believe it. How is it that the pornographic organization which exploits women, pretends that what they promote is in any way helpful, and promotes the very thing your organization fights is represented on your BOD?? Your mission is EMPOWER yet everything Playboy stands for is exploitation of women, children and even men. Where is the empowerment in that? I’m so glad that I looked deeper than the surface of your organization. I suppose some good has come from rescuing, but when you put these victims in the place to be rescued, how is that anything but you creating a situation for which you can pat yourself on the back when you save them? Is this just Playboy’s attempt to legitimize their actions by partnering with an anti-trafficking campaign? I’m shocked and saddened by the hypocrisy of it.”
“Hugh Hefner built my work with prostituted children into a corporation. Without his resources there would not be a Children of the Night.We did this in 1977 because social workers and juvenile courts denied these children services because sex was involved in their victimization.We have rescued over 11,000 children over the last 41 years starting before the word sex trafficking was created.Your right it was tough for him to help me because of how he was perceived and he took risks to do so against his lawyers advice.”Dr Lois LeeChildren of the Night3450 Cahuenga BlvdUnit 602Los Angeles, Ca 90068-1592