Submitted by Thomas Budds –
I recently went to see the new movie/docudrama, “The Sound of Freedom” during which I had a déjà vu moment. I personally led investigations into sex slavery while heading a Major Crimes Squad for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department 1985-99. I couldn’t help but compare the making and the messages of the two movies “The Sound of Freedom” and “Barbie” released within weeks of each other.
My team investigated transnational crime groups as well as many ransom kidnappings cases, all victims safely rescued, I might add. One of our cases was very similar to the set of facts depicted in this movie. Our case became part of a book documenting sex slavery cases titled “Slave Girls”, written by English author Wesley Clarkson who I permitted to briefly imbed with my crew. One scene in the movie brought that 1995 slavery case fast-forward to 2023!
In the movie, highly motivated investigators sought to rescue children and a group of “girls” kidnapped and sold into sex slavery throughout the world. The movie focused on two children, a brother and sister, named Miguel and Rocio. The investigators were being thwarted at every turn until a key scene between the investigator and his boss. As the camera zooms-in on the characters, the reluctant boss, is asked with deep emotion, “What if it were your daughter?”
In 1995, my team rescued 7 young girls from Thailand being held as sex slaves in a residential house in Rosemead, California; we arrested several suspects. That night, following medical examination of the girls, I immediately began trying to arrange for their safe housing for the duration of the legal process. I also had a representative of the Royal Thai Consulate respond to our location to help with housing and translation.
I called professional acquaintance, Hollywood-based Attorney Gloria Allred, a self-professed women’s’ advocate. She offered good luck, but it seemed the case wasn’t noteworthy enough. I called Catholic Charities explaining the case details. Their representative called me back a half hour later saying she couldn’t help. She explained that the women she spoke with in the participating households said, “they did not want “these type women” in their houses especially “around their husbands”. I told the woman, “What if it were your daughter, or their daughter!”
What if your daughter went overseas for employment and was forced into sex slavery. Wouldn’t you and these other women expect rescue and Christian households to embrace their loved ones?” As I ended the call, in disgust, I was informed by a Thai speaking U.S. Customs Agent who often worked with my team that the consulate representative had been berating the rescued girls (enslaved victims) for “having embarrassed” Thailand by their behavior. I warned the man about “dissuading witnesses” threatening to complain to the Royal Prince who I once met on a security detail when he visited Los Angeles. This seemed to get his attention; he was able to secure safe housing for the victimized girls at consulate expense.
Sex slavery has existed over the millennia but in the USA, it seems to have gotten worse in the last three decades as so many parents seem to often make choices that abet child sexualization. In our Rosemead case, we had the district attorney file rape counts for each sexual encounter that was documented in the “John” book. These multiple counts of rape against each defendant and upon conviction good judges sentenced these slave masters to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. We broadcast these sentences widely throughout the community and the slavery all but stopped; the accountability price was too high to pay.
What a difference 38 years makes! The Sound of Freedom documents real sex slavery occurring right now couldn’t get funding and was “thwarted” for five years. The daily rape of boys and girls didn’t seem to touch the hearts of financiers, in fact, the movie was broadly discouraged with minimal distribution. The movie has gained some pretty good success but what about the effort behind its success? Support for the movie had to be championed from the pulpits of Christian churches across the nation. Unfortunately, it took a grassroots effort to pull at Christian heartstrings and bring about peer, or “pew” pressure, if you will for a movie with a strong moral message, real life consequences, and a call-to-action.
In contrast, Barbie had no grassroots effort as it recently surpassed one billion in sales in a celebration of self-indulgence and viewed by many of the same Christians that saw what happened to Miguel and Rocio. And isn’t it just like “today’s” Disney management to end the story with Barbie left on her own in pursuit of find out who she really is thus leaving the door open for Barbie to stare into a bowl of alphabet gender soup becoming her own god of self-creation in the sequel.
While the self-absorbing behaviors of Barbie and Ken have brought millions of American Christians to the movies, the sex enslavement of real children, Miguel, and Rocio, required a peer pressure effort from the pulpits. There is no irony in the fact that the behaviors in either movie are not to be encouraged. The instant gratification demanded by social media mechanisms feed the indifference towards the consequential destruction of real lives.
What has happened to all those American voices that cried, when a woman says no, it means, no, “No means no!” America seems very silent concerning the sexual and physical assault on its children. From Jesus’ mouth to our ears, it’s better that you drown yourself than harm one of His children. Until that day of reckoning, the nation must demand that all levels of its enforcement apparatus defend our children beginning with local District Attorneys, Federal prosecutors, and strong judges; Inaction is to abet!
Empires end when the welfare of its children isn’t prized. That being the case, America surely seems to be crumbling before our very eyes a spiritual process only stopped by the grace of God. We all must pray, then act according to scripture in the realization that faith is a verb. Let’s Roll!