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Report Linking Institutions to Sex Trafficking Prompts Congressional Investigation

July 8, 2021
 
 

The Department of Education has been asked to share its policies and procedures for protecting against sex trafficking in postsecondary education following a report linking vocational schools to prostitution or human trafficking.

A report by the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation described an investigation into a for-profit institution in Minnesota, formerly called the American Academy of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (AAAOM), that found fraud and suspicious behavior within the institution's massage therapy program, such as application irregularities and internship site supervisors who lacked massage licenses or had connections to prostitution. The foundation also discovered 17 other institutions in five states that were disciplined or closed for engaging in behaviors that could indicate sex trafficking.

A separate USA Today investigation, published a day after the report was presented to the department, found two dozen institutions that were connected to prostitution, fraud or both.

The chair of a House Oversight and Reform subcommittee sent a letter Tuesday to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, asking for the department's assistance in "rooting out any remaining issues."

“The subcommittee would like to work together to determine if any other federal funds are unknowingly being provided to bad actors, and I look forward to pursuing our shared goal of protecting against trafficking in America’s schools,” wrote Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat from Illinois.

The subcommittee is asking the department to provide "all DOE policies and procedures relating to identifying indicia of prostitution, sex work, human trafficking, or sex trafficking in postsecondary education," as well as all documents related specifically to AAAOM and a list of all department funding that has been received by cosmetology and massage schools by July 20.

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