My last drunk October happened on a visit to my once upon a time home. My born-and raised-island-city-home.

I say last drunk October, not my last drunk night in Juneau, because it wasn’t.

October 2019. 

I had just missed my friend’s birthday. 

My renegade-badass-from-childhood-and-beyond-best friend.

Tracy Day.

But that didn’t matter. 

She had disappeared from our town with no road out, on Valentine’s, months before. I had been in Fairbanks when I had seen the posts on Facebook. I was eating a Greek crepe and sipping on a latte at the Crepery as I stared out the window and exchanged messages with her mom, followed by a long phone call. 

I was sitting near the window facing a quiet street. The slight reflection showed the tears on my cheek as the anguish and fear from her mom’s voice caught me up on what was and wasn’t known. The latte grew cold but I didn’t care.

She could feel it. She wasn’t coming home. 

I stared out the window. 

One of the strongest women I had ever known – I had no one in my life to come kick sense into me when I was 21 and ruining my life but she showed up and put me a little straighter- was telling me what I didn’t want to hear, again.

The next day I drove home to Anchorage, and I thanked the open road before me.

I had lived a different life before, yet here I was, on a six hour drive through deep mountains and a hazy blue sky. 


All I ever wanted in life was freedom. 

Freedom from my mom choosing alcohol over me. 

Freedom from States custody. 

Freedom from probation officers.

Freedom from feeling unwanted and running. Always running. To anywhere else but “here”.

Tracy wanted freedom too so we ran from the Miller House group home on the regular. 

Me, Tracy and Marion, sneaking onto a ferry to Haines, a young confused firefighter, and the Alcan Highway. It was a spectacular gorgeous flight back even if we sat in handcuffs, escorted to detention back in Juneau via a small chartered plane.

And that one time when we picked the lock to the little ticketing office at the ferry terminal when we were cold, about six runaways, stuffed in the tiny little building.  I smiled at how resourceful we were.

Or when all the pots and pans got thrown out from our room at the Bergman because we couldn’t pay the rent.

The times under the dock or up the hill off the stairs as we drank 40’s with the boys.  

Marion and her IV mishap from chemo and how the three of us went survival mode. 

Tracy staying with me in Anchorage and our walk as it snowed for the first time that year.

The world was different and would never be the same. 

How could Tracy just vanish? 

But now it’s October, months have passed, so much she would not have missed. 

My renegade-badass-from-childhood-and-beyond-best friend. Tracy Day. My last drunk October night had me out with Tracy’s twin, after spending most of the day with her older sister and her boyfriend, Dave. A sort of reunion. 

Three months later, in January, we would still be at a stand still – Tracy’s sign held between us and sometimes just one of us – held above our heads, as her older sister talked with people that shared stories of Tracy and how kind she is and giving, always so giving, some gave ideas on who to contact for help. 

On our faces, thick red hand prints. “TRACY” written in the same bright red tempera paint. 

A picture of her dark blonde hair and light blue eyes, dimples deep in the faint smile, glued beside her name. MISSING MMIW. 

Where was she? Why was she not found, yet?

Because she had police problems. 

Because she would disappear, sometimes for a few days. 

Because she was gradually becoming more and more lost in between what was real and what was paranoia. 

Because she would give away her last pair of gloves to someone in need.

Because she always wanted to do her best and not let her family down. 

Because she tried her hardest to look for the same freedom we were always running after.

Because she had been my friend since we were so young, days of running from group homes and giggling about boys. 

Because she had been by my side and I hers, for so many years. 

Even if she had struggles with drugs and homelessness, bad men and crying children, it didn’t make her less of someone to search for. 

Because of that I will always be searching for Tracy.

But this October night I went out with her twin. We left the older sister at home and Dave behind, and we made our way down Bar Row. Some bars had Tracy’s flyer up. Some didn’t. I would order my drink and ask why the flyer wasn’t up. Most of the time the bartender knew her and knew she had been missing and didn’t know why the flyer wasn’t up. I understood that and didn’t take offense but it still dug in me. In the hollow place she was missing.

The night went on, booze took over, blurry empty punches were thrown at to those who said “she was in treatment” or “I heard she left, and she doesn’t want to come back.” 

I wanted to fight everyone, luckily Tracys twin saved me from everything, except a few bruises I got from falling and punching the wrong things. 

When I came to the next morning with no purse, no jacket, I was at a home on the hill. Calling my phone from a relic – a landline in the kitchen on the wall- there was no answer. 

The bar. My purse and jacket hadn’t left with me at closing. 

The bar from my old days. The one I had snuck into before I was legally allowed, celebrating a friend’s twenty-first birthday. I had walked into that bar at age nineteen like I had done it before. The friend had rented a limo and the night had ended with most of us puking out the window. 

Now I waited for the same bar to open, hoping my green peacoat and purse – with my phone and money – were in there.

It was a crisp cold morning and the guy with the house on the hill had given me a new flannel to wear over my marigold sweater. The flannel was stiff, but the inside was soft and it warmed me from the cold morning air as I headed down the few blocks to Bar Row. 

The bar didn’t open up for another hour so I walked slowly down the street, glassy-eyed and hung over, others watching me, I imagined people I saw snickering at my demise. Near the park I turned around from my exhausting walk and headed back to the bar. Two men passing by asked if I was okay as I was leaning on a jutted window opening. 

Yes, I answered and asked the time. 

Twenty-five more minutes till opening. 

The two men were friendly and it was good to talk to someone, the watchers and the snickers lost their hold on my hung-over mind with them by my side. 

One man had a blanket around him. 

He had lost his jacket too. His friend left, he had work to get to. A bus to catch. 

The man with the blanket asked if he could wait with me.

“Would it be okay if I sit here while you wait?” 

I said of course, yes. 

Earlier, before I made the little walk to the park, I came to the bar and found it closed. I had seen a man working in the side kitchen area and he had come to the window after I tapped on it. 

“Was a jacket in there? It’s green. Is there a purse around?”

“No, ask Tina when she gets in. She’d be in soon. Wait and ask Tina.” He had answered me through the crack of the door.

My new friend asked me if I had any cigarettes. 

“I don’t smoke.” I shrugged.

He had a rollie he would share. 

“No thank you.” I smiled. 

“You have any food or any money?”

“No, I was waiting for my purse. For my jacket. Remember I just told you?” I asked, laughing at how crazy this was. I am 45 and on Front Street waiting for a bar to open. 

“Oh yeah.” He looked near tears. He pulled his blanket closer. The ends were frayed and wet, grey from the dirt and rain. 

I couldn’t tell if he was hungry or wanted money for something else. It didn’t matter to me. Sometimes people just needed a win.

“Tell you what, if my purse is in there, I will give you twenty bucks so you can get something to eat, or whatever.” I smiled.

“Deal,” he smiled and we bumped fists to cinch the deal.

“Why was I in Juneau?” He asked when we grew quiet again.

“Visiting family. And my missing friend. Seeing her family.” I explained the short version, still raw from the night before.

He knew her, and I was relieved he didn’t offer any scenario that answered why she was missing. I had heard it all the night before.

He thanked me.

“For what?” I asked.

“Most people don’t even bother to look me in the eye.” 

It stung my temples as my jaw clenched when I heard him say this. 

I looked at him. 

He had stopped shivering. 

We sat on the ledge waiting. As I closed my eyes I was me 30 years before. He was one of the homies from my days running the streets, drinking 40’s in the narrow side alleys, smoking pot from soda can pipes under the stairs. 

“Most ignore me,” he said. I listened and watched as he told me how he had lost his family, because he went out fishing and got paid and just never made it back home. 

Not yet. 


But not yet. 

His eyes were heavy. 

He was handsome. Tall, strong bones, either Haida or Tlingit. He was all the of boyfriends from my youth, all from Southeast. His face was clearly lined, recent sadness had taken his genuine smile. People walking by stepped a little more to the edge of the sidewalk. The ones in heavy jackets and hats crisp, the people who wore tan khakis, had no time for him. 

For us. We sat waiting on the ledge in front of the bar.

A blue Toyota stopped in the street in front of us. A woman got out and walked into the bar, the jangling of her keys drowned out by the loud truck as it pulled away. 

“Stay off the window ledge and don’t loiter in front of the bar!” She spat out over her shoulder as she went inside. 

What a snotty bitch, my eyes narrowed as I stood to head inside.

I’ll be right back, I tell my friend, as he stands to move, his face, bright only moments before, now lined with sadness. 

The bar smelled like stale beer and maraschino cherries.

“Hey, I was waiting because my jacket and purse were left here last night.” I revel at the words out of my mouth; complete lack of responsibility. 

In truth, I was shitfaced last night and I left my purse somewhere. And I left my jacket. And I have no clue, because I was blacked out and an idiot. 

The guy in the blanket was able to lay out the truth and could handle saying it out loud, but I couldn’t. 

I wasn’t as brave as him.

Tina is behind the bar, draining spigots and getting ready to open.

She looked at me and drew her mouth to a smirk.

“What’s it look like?”

“Purse is yellow and my jacket is green.” I am all about facts now.

She rummaged behind the bar, ducking down to a lower shelf, and came up with my purse.

“Great.” I smile. I check it. My phone, my money, everything is there.

“You can check around for a jacket.” She motioned to the back of the bar, where the pool tables were.

It wasn’t there.

With my purse, hotel room key, phone, and money all accounted for, I call it a win and head out.

It could have been a lot worse.

I could have my jacket and not my purse. 

I had promised my waiting friend twenty bucks. I made an agreement with the Universe with our fist bump, and I was happy to see the smile on his face when I handed him a bill from in my purse.

“Oh wow, I didn’t think…” He was sheepish and took it.

“Of course. See you around, take care.” I knew I couldn’t rescue him. In that sense, he was like all the boyfriends I had as an adult.

Once back at my hotel I ran a bath. I took stock of my bruises; on my elbows, a purplish one on my thigh; one on the side of my left hand. Licking my alcoholic wounds, I ordered room service, and slept.

The next day, my last full day before I was to head back home to Anchorage, I picked up Dave. I had already told him about the night before and losing my jacket.

We drove the day away in my rental car, the gas gauge spectacularly remaining near full. Out the road and around Auke Bay, circling towards the glacier and the Valley. Then we headed to Douglas. Later as we drove over the bridge, heading downtown after strolling around Sandy Beach and the harbor, I told him I wanted to get rid of the flannel, folded nicely in the seat behind me, and who I wanted to give it to.

The man in the blanket. 

It had been a clear blue sky day. Now it was getting dark out.

“Let’s do it!” He shook his head in agreement.

As we drove by the Glory Hole, the local shelter, I saw him and pulled to the side of the one way street. Dave unrolled his window and said hello to a few faces standing nearby that he knew. 

I got out.

“Hey there, remember me?” I smiled.

I surprised him and he stepped out from his friends a bit and said hi timidly. 

He was huddled in a recessed doorway, a small gathering of friends, all looking at me suspiciously. 

I may have fit in here years ago, and the morning before, but I knew I looked like one of those heavy-jacket, khaki-wearing snobs now.

“So, I had this flannel the other morning and I don’t really want it. You want it?” I asked.

“Sure,” he was happy to take it from my hands, “hey, you got any money you can spare?”

“No. Sorry.” I lied as I headed back to my rental car. Dave rolled up his window and we drove off. 

I pulled away knowing that no matter what I did, my heart would never be as big as Tracy’s. And it angered me that Juneau could take away someone so good.

And that was my last drunk October in Juneau.

I have left some names out of this, as I did not have permission to share their names and didn’t want to give them “fake” names. This is a story about Tracy, missing her, what grief and unresolved loss can do, and having some sense of humanity for those around us still struggling, and at times feeling invisible.

If you know any facts about Tracy’s disappearance, contact JPD at 907-586-0600.

Tracy is loved. I am just one of the many that won’t give up until we have answers.

Juneau Session 2020 and the horrible, no good, awful HB225/SB165

I just got back from Juneau, talking to legislative aides, Alaska State Representatives and Alaska State Senators about what this bill would entail for our Alaska communities as a whole. Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP) has been visiting Juneau for 5 years now to educate and lobby for legislation to work towards criminalizing police sexual misconduct and changing the sex trafficking law so that consensual sex workers aren’t charged with trafficking themselves.

First, let me start this post by saying the HB225/SB165 bill in front of our politicians in Juneau would have made it possible for me to be incarcerated for a lifetime. Yes. Life. I am still feeling a certain away about going to jail for “sex trafficking” in the first place. Yes, it sucked while I was in. I lost a lot of material stuff (replaceable) but, I was able to watch my daughter graduate high school. I have been able to bring her down to the states for college. I have been able to watch my son perform some amazing theatre throughout Alaska celebrating his Tlingit culture. I have been able to live a life, even after going to jail.

If HB225/SB165 gets passed, my measly few years will be NOTHING compared to the minimum 20 years Alaskan sex workers will be looking at upon initial charges. A misdemeanor prostitution charge would become a sex trafficking unclassified felony charge. MINIMUM 20 years.


You read that right. MINIMUM 20 years.

But wait. There is more.

This doesn’t mean “well, just don’t book for others.”

That is still the law. Sex workers know that.

This means that if I, or you, or Beautiful Betsy, have a place of prostitution -meaning a hotel room, an Airbnb, an apartment – it can warrant a charge of an unclassified felony of sex trafficking.

This also means if I were to text Beautiful Betsy and ask about her about a new client who wants to meet and is listing her as a reference (making sure he is a decent guy I can be comfortable seeing sometime, usually alone in a room, essentially screening him before I set an appointment) I can be charged with an unclassified felony of sex trafficking.

And Beautiful Betsy can be charged with an unclassified felony of sex trafficking as well.

Does this make any sense at all? An unclassified felony on the basis of that.

Yes. You read that right.

A MINIMUM of 20 years. 20 years to 99 years. Just like murder.

I feel like I am repeating myself. Thank god for copy and paste, right?

But wait, there is more!

It authorizes members of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to act as “peace officers” which will further their ability to commit sexual assaults on sex workers and sex trafficking victims in the course of prostitution sting operations, just like the police are allowed to do now. 

This also enacts the new crime of “patron of a victim of sex trafficking”.

A person is guilty of being a patron of a victim of sex trafficking if the person solicits sexual conduct with reckless disregard that the person they are soliciting is a victim of sex trafficking.

That’s not new! That’s sex trafficking in the first degree right now.

If the person solicited is under 18 years of age this offense will be a B sex felony. Wait.

Right now, it is an unclassified felony. So, instead, they are lowering the penalty? Rather than an unclassified felony, it will become a Class B sex felony? See Alaska’s sex trafficking in the first-degree definition right now, before HB225/SB165.

AS 11.66.110. Sex Trafficking in the First Degree.

(a) A person commits the crime of sex trafficking in the first degree if the person

(1) induces or causes another person to engage in prostitution through the use of force;

(2) as other than a patron of a prostitute, induces or causes another person who is under 20 years of age to engage in prostitution; or

(3) induces or causes a person in that person’s legal custody to engage in prostitution.

(b) In a prosecution under (a)(2) of this section, it is not a defense that the defendant reasonably believed that the person induced or caused to engage in prostitution was 20 years of age or older. (c) Except as provided in (d) of this section, sex trafficking in the first degree is a class A felony.  (d) A person convicted under (a)(2) of this section is guilty of an unclassified felony.

After HB225/SB165 this would be a Class B felony, rather than an unclassfied felony.

HB225/SB165 goes on to propose: If the person solicited is an adult, this offense will be a C sex felony. This crime would be sentenced under then enhanced penalties for sexual felonies and the person would be required to register as a sex offender.

Did that just make it possible that if someone is arrested for having consensual sex, that they will be charged with a Class C felony? A patron? So clients looking for of age, consensual sex, would have to register as a sex offender?


Does that make any sense at all?

No. It doesn’t to me. Does it to you?

Don’t take my word for it.

All the info is listed.

28 pages.

Here is the link.

Read it.

Then call your representative and senator to tell them that HB225/SB165 does nothing to address sex trafficking and rather trumps up misdemeanor charges into unclassified felony charges.

This is not what our Alaska communities or our Alaska budget needs.

See the attached Alaska Department of Laws breakdown on HB22/SB165

SB 165 –SECTIONAL ANALYSIS & the Sex Trafficking and Human Trafficking Highlights 

Also, check out to learn more about Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP). We are a group of current and former sex workers, sex trafficking victims, and our allies working towards safety and protection in Alaska’s sex industry. We educate and advocate for each other as individuals trying to access equal protection under the law or other public services, and also at the legislative level. The only reason I am able to be articulate about this legislation is because of the work CUSP has done these last 5 years.


Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP)

2020 legislative is in session, and there is a bill that enables the government to increase penalties for our customers, and further conflates consensual sex work with sex trafficking. 

Read through the text of the proposed bill, HB 225 

In addition to tackling HB 225, this year the Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP) is asking legislators to disallow the “but your honor, she’s a whore,” defense and to make it an aggravator – a sentence increaser – if a crime is committed against a person engaged in sex work, if the crime involves a sex work transaction, or if a perpetrator pays the victim.

CUSP has a petition to make these legislative changes here:…/quotbut-your-honor-shes…/…

“The Bad Girl Box, It’s time to put an end to the ‘but your honor, she’s a whore’ defense.”…/article_07cbb914-3769-11ea…

When we first talked about creating the aggravator language, we were only thinking of sex workers and of non-sex workers who are easily discredited as crime victims when they can be discredited as whore-ish. Hipp’s case pointed to the need for an aggravator bill to also include perpetrators who pay their victims. “A child molester who sexually abuses a child and then pays them is an insidious manipulation,” said Pam Karalunas, a consultant, trainer, the recently retired chapter coordinator of the Alaska Children’s Alliance, and founding manager of RCPC Stevie’s Place Child Advocacy Center. “It is meant to focus responsibility on the child, both in the child’s mind and in the minds of adults who may learn of the abuse.”

CUSP is seeking donations of $632 in order to afford to the continuation to educate Alaska legislators about the conditions for sex workers and sex trafficking victims. There are two of us going to Juneau (myself being one) and housing and airfare has been donated.

Even if you are unable to donate, please SHARE and SIGN the petition!

Disallow the “but your honor, she’s a whore” defense

This year the Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP) is asking legislators to disallow the “but your honor, she’s a whore,” defense and to make it an aggravator – a sentence increaser – if a crime is committed against a person engaged in sex work, if the crime involves a sex work transaction, or if a perpetrator pays the victim. 

CUSP has a petition to make these legislative changes here:

“The Bad Girl Box, It’s time to put an end to the ‘but your honor, she’s a whore’ defense.”

When we first talked about creating the aggravator language, we were only thinking of sex workers and of non-sex workers who are easily discredited as crime victims when they can be discredited as whore-ish. Hipp’s case pointed to the need for an aggravator bill to also include perpetrators who pay their victims. “A child molester who sexually abuses a child and then pays them is an insidious manipulation,” said Pam Karalunas, a consultant, trainer, the recently retired chapter coordinator of the Alaska Children’s Alliance, and founding manager of RCPC Stevie’s Place Child Advocacy Center. “It is meant to focus responsibility on the child, both in the child’s mind and in the minds of adults who may learn of the abuse.”

CUSP is seeking donations of $632 in order to afford to the continuation to educate Alaska legislators about the conditions for sex workers and sex trafficking victims. There are two of us going to Juneau (myself being one) and housing and airfare has been donated.

Even if you are unable to donate, please SHARE and SIGN the petition!

My empty nest adventure

I just returned from dropping my daughter off at a University in a big city near the East Coast. Far away from Alaska, our home, where both of my children were born. Where I was born.

I knew it would be difficult. I knew I would feel like a hollow shell for some time, at least until I got my head wrapped around all the changes that come with this right of passage most parents want for their children. It wasn’t necessarily the going to a college or university aspect I found important. My youngest was heading out on her own. She was going to pursue her own life. I am elated that I had a part in creating someone, could credit myself in molding someone, brave enough to jump out into the unknown and create a life for herself.

Sure, I have an amazing older son (he turns 26 in this month) who went off on his own a few years ago. His leaving home was in easy-to-bite-pieces. He only moved to LA less than two years ago, and he is regularly back in Alaska for work.

So my last child at home, my movie buddy and fellow series binger, my let’s go to the museum or for a walk or shopping or sushi, my most effected by my incarceration, has moved out.

Out of State for that matter.

So, I decided to embark on a journey of my own. I’ve always had wanderlust. It was a perfect time to go visit friends and family on that side of the States.

The East Coast.

Two weeks.

Driving rental cars part way, riding in Amtrak trains part way, even public transportation trains at times,

I wandered big cities and little towns, careened down toll roads and held firm in the belief that the Universe would carry me safely along my journey. I was ready for the discoveries I would make along the way.

It started rough. We stayed in a hotel less than 2 miles from where my daughter would be attending school, both tired from the overnight travels from Anchorage, complete with a shitty late evening/early morning 5-hour layover in Seattle.

I awoke with my eyes itchy and watering and a sneezing episode that kept me from sleeping any longer than 7am. Allergies? Maybe I am allergic to change. Whatever it was, I dealt with it throughout the trip. Even at home now I am dealing with it. So maybe I am really allergic to change.

I have to clarify something that may not be obvious to all reading this. People like me don’t usually bring their children to college. Normally we don’t shop for dorm necessities and comforts for them. We don’t usually have friends and family open their homes to us, feed us, even clothe us. People like me are lucky and blessed when this happens. I try to never forget that fact. I don’t forget where I started from and everything I have been through.

Short story, I was a throwaway kid. Age 14 found me in State custody (mom had issues, I had issues, State took over and had issues) and thus begin a whirlwind shit show of group homes, foster homes, youth detention centers, treatment centers, wilderness excursions for wayward youth and a lot of running away and making the choices broken kids are apt to make. I made it out, survived.

And for a while, that was enough. Then I decided survival wasn’t enough and chose to thrive rather than survive. But, that is a whole other story, part of it in the previous blogs.

Back to the journey.

The first day on the road alone I drove for hours towards Philly. I left after 10am, after I had brought my daughter and her last-minute Target items to her dorm. I was trying to stay composed as I headed to my rental car from her dorm building. I had her stay in the room since I didn’t want to have her walk me to the parking lot, being seen with a blubbering mom. As soon as I saw the car in view I knew I was safe enough to let the tears start flowing. I was happy to be wearing sunglasses and drove off quickly.

Waves of emotion, anger, fear, loss, and loneliness crept in at once. Anger the last to leave and we drove halfway to Philly together. Anger that I had missed out on two-plus years of my daughters’ life due to a charge that was both illogical and unfair. I drove on, mad at Alaska’s judicial system, listening to music. Crying. Happy. Grateful. Yet torn.

I had a long trip before me and knew I would have some time to figure things out along the way, get out of my system whatever might be blocking this growth gently prodding towards me.

It was time for me to walk out, or drive out, into the unknown. As I had so many other times in my life. I was still among the living. I would be fine. I would survive. Hell, I was going to thrive.

I was headed to meet someone I had yet to meet in person but had spoken to many times over the last two years. I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going to be staying but was able to make arrangements if needed.

I had about 5 hours until I got to Philadelphia. I listened to music, streamed from my phone to the nice Bluetooth system the blue Nisson Sentra rental car included. I loved being able to skip a song just by the touch of a button on the steering wheel.

Note to self: Next vehicle I buy, catch up with technology. The cigarette lighter attachment seems archaic after being spoiled.

I found a new band I liked, listened to parts of two different audiobooks, “Feminasty” and “It’s Great to Suck at Something”, and drove on.

Before I knew it I was sitting at a patio in the sunshine at a fancy grocery chain, waiting for Melanie as I ate a huge greek salad.

It was great finally meeting this powerhouse writer I had shared several phone calls with. Her vibrant eyes, easy smile and gorgeous head of hair led me to recognize her before she even sat down.

She had me stay at her apartment and felt so very welcomed. I spent three days in Philadelphia, and they went by so fast. Our first morning we went on a “walk” that seemed all wrong for my shoes. It was beautiful, and being outdoors with the fresh air and the trees and the light, comforted me. Going back to nature is always what I needed to feel grounded, and this was perfect timing.

My second day was spent on the perusing around the waterfront and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The last evening had me walking her casual neighborhood, stopping in for a pizza and a local brew a few blocks away at a well-seasoned bar with a feel of refined nostalgia.

I headed onward north after three days, the last stretch of having my rental car. From Philly I was headed to West Warwick to meet a powerhouse of an advocate, the incomparable Bella that formed Rhode Island COYOTE, positively impacting many sex workers and their allies’ lives.  She was also one of my pen pals while I was incarcerated for Sex Trafficking and really made a difference to me, both emotionally and mentally.

Watch this YouTube video of 10 years after Re-Criminalization: Reflecting on a Decade of Anti-Trafficking Activism in Rhode Island


I had a three-day visit planned with Bella. I really wanted to see how this amazing woman was able to do what she did and see first hand how her passion transformed in action that had made so much of a difference for so many.

From there I would be taking the Amtrack to Boston to visit my maternal family, a few cousins and hopefully find my grandparents’ final resting place. Then onward to spend time with my paternal side, my aunt and uncle, in Maine. I was about halfway through my trip now. I wanted to relish every moment. I remembered walking the yard at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center not knowing what my future held in store, and if I would even have much of a life after jail. Seeing the freeway, the open road even with traffic and bland travel stops, brought me back to the realization that I not only survived, but I thrived.

I drove through five states on my almost 5-hour drive. I had downloaded a bunch of Bruce Springsteen to listen to as I drove through New Jersey. My google map announced when I had arrived in New York State. As I passed the “Welcome to New York” sign there was a seemingly obligatory fender bender pulled off the side of the road. I only saw New York City from afar on I95. I was close enough. It seemed impossibly populated.

From there, I drove through Connecticut to Bella’s home in Rhode Island. I would be staying at her place.

Bella is vivacious. We shared similar life experiences. After we went to return my rental car and I felt the pangs of loss once again.  I loved the independence of driving, but my plan from here on was by train. Bella treated me to a delicious sushi dinner and a chance to catch up on the amazing projects COYOTE was working on.

Just look at this! I almost didn’t want to eat it, it was so pretty!

Spending time with Bella I got to see first hand the time and effort she put into COYOTE. She didn’t waste a moment of her day, always writing, reading or researching, I was enthralled by her sheer energy.

We discussed how sex trafficking propaganda and the harmful training and information given by law enforcement, and other anti-sex worker rights organizations that focused on rescuing sex workers, only caused harm.

Rescue usually meant handcuffs. The criminalization of sex work did nothing to help sex workers pay for childcare or their rent.

“When people are going to jail, they’re losing their apartments, they’re losing their vehicles, they’re losing all this stability they’ve created,” Bella shared, and I agreed.


COYOTE RI observes the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

The days went by quickly. Across from the Capitol building was the Amtrak station, where I would take a quick hour trip to South Station in Boston, Massachusetts. As luck would have it, my cousin Billy was working a food truck at a nearby Square. I easily maneuvered my rolling luggage a few city blocks and joined my cousin.

After dropping off my luggage I joined him on the food cart for a little drive to a private party a tech company had booked. There were other food trucks, some live music, and a beer garden. For free. Companies did this for their employees here? The sun was winding down and before long I found a not so expensive hotel in Malden, thanks to my app. I had no idea where Malden was, and not until the next morning did I realize that 1) I was quite an Uber away from Boston and 2) I was right next door to a graveyard. I didn’t mind the graveyard bit, but the location was killing me, and it became very apparent I would need transportation to get to Western Massachusetts. I booked another car and set off.

I will never rent from Budget again.

After a costly Uber ride to the city, I was told by Budget Rental that because I had a debit card and not a credit card I was not able to rent from them. The manager I spoke to on the phone made it sound as if I would be unable to rent from anyone in Boston due to not having a credit card. I didn’t understand. I had never had this problem before, and I had just rented a car from Budget and driven it through five states and had just returned it mere days ago!


Frustrated, I was able to call and make reservations with Dollar Rental and would be picking it up the next morning. Which meant a few more Uber rides. Always making the best of the situation I explored Bostons waterfront area, taking a sunset cruise and then hopping onto the Boston Gravestone Tour trolley.

I think things happen for a reason, and if I had a car and had to worry about parking,  I wouldn’t have been able to experience these two fun tours.

Still, Budget, you can bite me.

The next day I Ubered to Dollar and picked up my car. I headed to Revere to pick up my cousin Bill, and off we went on I90.  Learning to drive in Seattle prepared me for any big city driving. I had the keys points down: drive on the offensive; use my horn a lot; and pay attention to my mirrors.

Sadly, cousin Bill had no idea where my grandparents were buried. My Uncle Al had brought their cremated ashes to Massachusetts in the mid-2000’s and laid them at the base of baby Ray’s grave. Uncle Al didn’t remember where or how he found the grave, and cousin Bill had no idea. It seemed my maternal side was not at all close. Some unremembered squabble or just lack of care stagnating any familial ties.

I vowed to figure it out and try again next trip, and we drove on, me dropping him off at his cousins and I headed to cousin Heathers to finally meet her in person!

Heather is in the picture of us circa 1981, but she has a sensitive job, so no pics of her. But it was really nice to connect with someone I had been able to communicate with on Facebook, she is so creative and has a beautiful home and wonderful family.

I drove back to Boston in the dark, knowing the next morning I would be returning the car and taking the train to Maine. I was officially headed towards my last leg, and was really wondering if I was able to take in everything I was seeing and experiencing. Time was flying by too quickly. I was ready for a quieter pace and thankful to be headed to see my Aunt and Uncle.

I had been to their summer home once before when I was about 14 or 15 years olf. My aunt swears I was closer to 12. I had never met either of them before and wasn’t happy about being so far from my friends and my grandma Lorraine. They were so different than me. They ate pizza with a fork and a knife! They ate really weird cheeses I had never even heard of. My aunt, understanding she was being handed over a troubled teen, had made arrangements for me to assist a local lobsterman. He was a guidance counselor at the school. and he reminded me of my grandpa Ray. An old school seaman, they even had similar accents. It wasn’t a month later I was headed back to Juneau, Alaska. I had reached out after my dad died, the large array of flowers sent by them filling the entryway to St. Pauls Catholic Church where my dads’ service was held. I had last seen them when they had come up for a cruise to Alaska in 2007.

I immediately recognized my uncle standing near the stairs as I deboarded the train. He looked the same, besides the slight limp he had from recent hip surgery.  My aunt awaited in the running car. She had the same eyes my dad had. It was chilly out, fall seemed to have transcended before my eyes as the train traveled north, the trees turning golden hues of yellows and reds as I had neared Brunswick.


I was older now, and able to see the beauty in everything. I was able to make the connections I didn’t even know I was looking for. The history of what made my dad into the person he became.

The summer house was even larger than I had remembered and had the most gorgeous water view. There were kayaks. I could walk the shore and smell the ocean. I love Maine.

Me at age 3

My uncle took me to Kinkos for some reprints of some pictures I could take home.

My aunt drove me around to see where she had gone to school, where my dad was born, and the house they had all lived in when they were children. We stopped for me to take a picture and the neighbor across the street saw my curiosity and asked what I was doing. We struck up a conversation.

Childhood home

I learned a man had lived there for years now, a shut-in, the house was to be demolished when he passed due to the asbestos in the old construction. The neighbor shared that his wife had grown up in the house they still lived in. He was probably about 60 years old. I felt right at home, encountering Alaskan neighborly hospitality I had experienced growing up in Juneau. Neighbors looking out for each other.

We went by my grandmother’s house, a woman I never met, bought years after she divorced my grandfather, a house sold long ago, after she had passed.

I felt a connection to this land so similar to Alaska. I hadn’t even realized that my dads’ side was from Maine. I wasn’t interested in family or relatives growing up. The ones I had either let me down or were unable to be there for me. Only after my children grew older and asked about family did I start peering around It hadn’t crossed my mind. I had only ever known what I had grown up not knowing.

I wondered how much Maine my dad had remembered. Before long his father had been transferred to Germany. His parents’ relationship had been in decline gradually throughout the years. My dad, being the youngest, was sent to boarding school. Away from his older brother and sister. My aunt was the eldest and grew to feel a mothering attachment to him since his parents were distant from each other and, sadly, to him. My aunt felt she had failed him. I knew otherwise. Addiction is a mother fucker.

I went back to Alaska with a deeper understanding of who I was and where I came from. Answers came to light on things I hadn’t even thought to ask. Of course, it all made sense.  I had long ago forgiven my dad for his trespasses and now came to understand he didn’t have an idyllic childhood as I was led to believe. I hoped he was able to forgive. There were so many things left unsaid between us.

I took the train back to Boston, where my cousin Dave picked me up. My aunt was worried about the sketchy Airbnb I had rented and didn’t want me using an Uber alone, due to safety concerns. I happily obliged, I had only met my cousin once before, and we were both self-absorbed teens at the time. I had a great time getting to know him over tacos and his overly lovable sweet dog, Sage.

I flew home to Alaska September 5th.

September had been a difficult month for me in years gone by.

Septemeber 5th exactly was THE day.

September 5th, 2002, was the day my grandpa had died. I flew down to Juneau and stayed with my dad in order to go to his funeral.  I headed back home after a few days. My mom refused to answer any of my calls or let me know when the funeral was and I needed to go home for my son’s birthday.

I spent time with my dad on that visit, sitting with him in the evening as my then 1-year-old daughter slept in the extra bed that belonged to his roommate, who was gone on a trip.  My son and husband were in Anchorage. We talked about his HepC, how he tried to just smoke pot rather than drink alcohol. I learned he appreciated college football, “because they were in it for the love of the game”, and hadn’t sold out yet. He was proud of me, of the woman I had become. Of leaving Juneau and going on with my life. Proud I wasn’t stuck there in the revolving door of state assistance, domestic violence and going to jail. That’s where I had left off.

That was the last visit I ever had with my dad. A police officer knocked on my door a few weeks later. September 23rd, 2002. Or around that date, since a coworker had to break into his place after he didn’t show up for work for a few days. Very unlike him. He was found with a needle in his arm.

I lost my dad just as I was really getting to know him, and I brought my kids and husband to Juneau to be with me as I buried him. It was my first funeral I could remember attending, and the first funeral I had to make arrangements for.

Since then, September was the hardest month of all. It didn’t help the next year, at the very end of August, my grandma had passed as well.

Now September would remind me of finding family and the missing pieces of myself along the way. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I headed out, to meet friends and family I didn’t know too well.

I learned I liked my own company. I met kindred spirits believing in a just cause and doing hard work to bring about change. I found a connection with people I share relatives and generational trauma with. I l was reminded that people are good and caring, and still check in on their neighbors. I finally grasped that we all carry on the best we can, with the aches of regrets of things that could not be changed. That didn’t have ruin those moments of life we had left to live. Those moments of driving down the Jersey turnpike, listening to Bruce Springsteen, no longer angry at a time lost.

My aunt, my grandmother, and my father on the Linderhof Castle grounds, near Garmish. Circa 1951.

Confronting my child molester

Warning: This post discusses childhood sexual trauma and may result in triggering other survivors of childhood sexual trauma. Please consult a local organization such as STAR (Anchorage Crisis Line: (907) 276-7273/Statewide Crisis Line: (800) 478-8999 ) or a personal counselor, or at least an understanding friend, if this blog post does so.

I recently found the man who had molested me when I was almost 9.  I decided to confront him. Such an easy, sparse sentence to write, but at age 44, it wasn’t that easy. It took me years to be able to do this.

First, I found that I needed to get over the fear that kept me the same meek little girl I had been, that kept me from thinking I was deserving of good things, that had me eating too little, or drinking too much, or staying in relationships that weren’t really…relationships.

Second was the anger. For a number of years, I couldn’t have knives in my home (we made it a joke but there was truth in it) due to my proclivity of throwing them when I was angry. And I was angry a lot. I would drink or use whatever in order to dim the anger, drown out the hate I held onto tightly. Yes, the anger took much longer. Even I knew I wouldn’t be making the best decision and having a positive outcome if I was still harboring that seething anger.

Yes. I could have found him years ago. I half-heartedly did find a PO Box in the Spenard area of Anchorage, Alaska that his mail was sent to.

It wasn’t the right time.

I just had a baby, a darling girl. I dealt with post-partum depression by seeing a counselor, the same counselor that had assisted me in my journey to confront my dad that had never happened due to his death. Luckily I mentioned to my counselor what was going on in my head. I can honestly say in my first hundred versions back then “confronting” wasn’t apart of my plan. Telling my counselor the truth saved me from acting out and possibly facing years in prison.

I knew my dad felt horrible and what he did ate away at him. We had gotten close through the years and he was my biggest cheerleader. The one hole in our fractured relationship was on course to be mended when he died from heroin overdose. I had been fueled by more anger, fear and regret not following through and confronting my dad and was left with a person who had escaped culpability for all these years.

It was only once. When it had happened that morning and I was able to escape his bedroom I told my mom and her boyfriend, Joe, both in the very next room.

Maybe they were too hungover, regardless, they didn’t want to be bothered by a scared seven-year-old describing something even she wasn’t sure how to form the words for. So no one said or did anything. Because of that, I had thought the world didn’t care about little girls and kept inside myself more and more. Not even a year before this happened, something similar had happened between me and my dad, who I barely knew. It seemed as if some visible brokenness appeared that other predators could easily spot, like a landing beacon.

As I grew older, I pushed the memories further back and as more time went by, my walls grew thicker.

Eventually, I ended up in States custody. I ran away. I drank. More things happened. I grew up.

It was normal now in my world. Things happened and not much, if anything, was ever done. I saw this in my life and in the other kids around me. Foster homes. Group homes. Juvenile detention centers.

Still, I never forgot. Life went on and I stopped looking for fulfillment with alcohol. I went to counseling. I wrote things on pieces of paper and burnt them or tied them to balloons. I put a lot of time and effort into letting go, forgiving myself, learning ways to talk to myself in order to not be a victim. Yet there was a voice in me that said the final chapter would be confronting the one person I knew I could.

My dad had passed years before, at the time I was working on getting the balls to talk to him about things he had done. I was in counseling and had done so much work to talk to him, forgive him, and move on. Then he took a hot shot and I was unable to. Besides dealing with his untimely death, funeral and burial costs, I had to deal with the resentment that came along with doing all that inner work and the selfishness of him dying before we could talk. I have visited his grave a few times throughout the years and I believe we have both found our peace. But Maurice had still been in the back of my mind.


You don’t hear that name much anymore do you? The countless times I had sought him out, the searches had come up empty, or at the most, sparse. I knew that the emotional work I did wouldn’t disappear and that when it would be time, I would be strong enough to go through with it.

So every few years I would google his name.

Maurice Hamby.

And then one day there was this article, with his picture. And it listed his place of employment in the article. He was a manager, right here in Anchorage.
Right by where I paid my rent. Across town, where I never went.

Having found him finally I knew I needed to take some time and make sure I still wanted to confront him and check my expectations on the outcome. If I still felt strong enough and that it was important enough I would follow through. No rush.

It took me another month to walk into that building and confront him. My expectations were to walk out with my head held up high and self-esteem intact. I also decided I would record it. I have listened to the recording a few times, and each time I am brought back to the shaky feeling I had as I walked through that door, phone in my purse, recording, not knowing who I would find and not having any idea of how the conversation would go.

I stopped in to see if he was there working just after Halloween 2018. I parked and readied my phone to record. I had to ground myself before I walked in, as I knew if I went in on auto-pilot I could possibly react in anger rather than be proactive and keep myself safe. I had no idea what Maurice looked like, except for the picture in the article. A man I barely knew for a brief moment decades ago. I remembered shaggy blonde hair. Long fingernails. A sneering smile.

I walked in, casually looking around. It was drab, the shelves barely stocked, with nonsequential knickknacks everywhere. A man, shorter than I, appeared from behind the counter, pulling closed a heavy sheet separating the front from the back as he greeted me.

After some chit chat, mainly to decipher I had the right person, I calmly asked if he remembered molesting me. He was taken aback. He started getting agitated and was visibly shaken. He stopped making eye contact.

“I don’t even know your name,” he had said.

As I stood there while Maurice denied everything it brought me to the realization of the biggest fear I had in confronting my dad.  The full denial. Which is what Maurice did. In his doing so, I was able to remove the one obstacle I had in my way, regardless of how much counseling I’ve had throughout the years.

That was the realization that I didn’t need an apology in order to complete this confrontation. I just needed to say: I remembered. You were wrong. With Maurice saying that it wasn’t true doesn’t excuse what was done. All I needed to do was say what I had to say: Here I am before you. And I remember. That’s what freed me. I walked out with my head held high and my self-esteem intact.

I was able to get the closure I was seeking from confronting Maurice. I had nothing riding on him apologizing or not apologizing. I knew regardless of what he said or did the inner work was always mine. I’ve made horrible choices in my life, based on what I wanted, out of selfish motives. But I knew this was something I owed the shy, quiet child hurt those many years before.

I think about other children that have been molested by people that were never held accountable, and how their predators probably didn’t remember their names either. And I wonder how we are able to continue in life, trusting, having relationships, going on with life, raising children, having jobs and bills and family problems. I wonder if others ever got a chance to confront their childhood predator that otherwise had no consequences. If they even wanted to. I don’t casually recommend confronting your molester. I would tell anyone to seek outside counseling before embarking. A friend recommended that I bring support. I didn’t believe I would be able to have to conversation I had if I had someone else with me, so I chose not to.

The recording of the whole interaction is posted below. If I had spent more time trying to figure it out, I am sure I could have transcribed it from some app out there. I wasn’t about to transcribe it myself.  I may have dealt with this emotionally but I know when to tap out. I’m not a glutton for punishment.

I hope that anyone who has been hurt and feels lost remembers they have a voice. I’m grateful I found mine. I share this in case anyone else is out there wondering if it’s okay to confront what has us wounded. It is if you need it to be.




An Alaskan Life of Sex Trafficking

In 2003 I had two young children and my first husband and I were two months behind in our mortgage, a home we had just moved into less than a year before. I had been homeless before and swore it wouldn’t happen again. When I was in college I knew women that had escorted and it seemed the fasted and easiest way to pay our bills. I called the numbers in the free weekly paper where escort agencies advertised. Only one called me back.

The woman on the phone was quick and to the point.

When can you start?

As soon as possible.

How old was I?

I’m 30.

She liked my answers and I was given an address and told to come by.

I went the next day, a trailer across the street from where I had burnt out as a drug alcohol counselor months before.

A short fat Thai guy answered the door. His puffy round face swallowed dark eyes that darted around distrustingly as he stood in the entryway smoking a cigarette. When he let me in it became apparent it was just us. We appraised each other. I had at least two inches on the guy and although anything could happen I figured my chances would be better than 50/50 unless he had a gun.

He gave a quick tour and my flight or fight adrenaline calmed a bit.

Here was the living room with two well-used recliners and a small couch facing a boxy TV from the 80’s. Here was the narrow hallway with two rooms and a bathroom on the right.

The back room had a small narrow bed on wooden legs without a pillow, only a thin sheet covering it, the other room, across from the bathroom, a twin bed, no pillow, same thin sheet cover.

“Sheets are right here, always put clean sheet on!” he barked with a thick accent.

I nodded.

“Here is sink, wash, always take garbage out. Always!”

I nodded and followed him back to the small living room.

“Phone rings, answer it. Sometimes call, sometimes knock. I get half. All is $100. You okay?”

I nodded. Did I not look okay? Was I okay? What the hell was I doing? Is this real?

With that, he nodded and went into a room at the front of the trailer, where the kitchen and his bed were hidden. I sat and took in my surroundings. I turned the TV on.

I didn’t understand what he meant by “all is $100.” I had no idea what someone would wear on the first day of work as a sex worker. I had actually Googled “what escorts wear” and was bombarded with images of thigh highs and stiletto heels. I owned neither.

I went with casual. Jeans, a form-fitting t-shirt, not too much makeup, but just a bit more eye makeup than you would expect the average soccer mom to wear. I sat and waited. I needed $1200 in order for me and my two kids to not be homeless at Christmas.

Not ten minutes went by before a burst of blonde came through the door. She looked as surprised to see me. She was younger, but not by much. I later found out she was 24 and she went by Monica.

“You’re new!” she laughed. She didn’t seem awful or hateful. I was relieved to see someone who could tell me what the $100 entailed.

“Ever worked before?” she asked, plopping down her huge purse in the space between us on the couch, pulling out her makeup and applying more foundation with a sponge. She didn’t need any more makeup on.

“No. Brand new. ”

She put her sponge down and looked at me, her eyes seemed friendly. She half laughed.

“Okay, sooooooo…. A few pointers.”

She gave me the rundown, from what to charge, to how to take the lead in the beginning, to how to get him the hell out so I could get to the next client. It was too much. I really wanted to take notes but didn’t want to seem like a total nerd.

“Always get the money before anything, and if he’s a cop, he can’t get naked and touch you, so make sure he gets naked and touches you. Oh and don’t let him try to do anything without a condom, no matter how much extra he wants to pay. Also, don’t tell him anything about your life, family, name, kids. Not a good idea, ya know?” I nodded, really wishing I could take notes. I would write everything down later that night at home.

I didn’t know at the time but the part of the police not able to get naked and touch me wasn’t true.



“Is that your name? Uh….no, your other name…your working name?” she smiled. She had perfect straight white teeth. Too white. Were they real?


I became Miranda.

A few months later I felt I didn’t need Vui. I had been paying him half and knew enough to go independent so I joined finances with another independent sex worker I met thru Vui’s and together we rented a furnished two bedroom apartment. I learned how to put my ads in the free paper to advertise. It was expensive to advertise in the free paper but that was where everyone found us. I bought a business license so I could advertise in the regular newspaper. I taught myself how to post online. The phone started ringing at all hours and I had yet learned any boundaries. I ran myself ragged.

Other sex workers we knew wanted to use our incall location. Soon, there was too much traffic and the landlord started asking questions I didn’t know how to answer. I found a house downtown, it was in a seedy area but there was plenty of parking and had a decent fenced backyard where we could lounge half naked and listen to music. We were all in this together.  We outgrew that, so next up was a smallish commercial location. The landlord let me paint the walls a Pepto pink. I was smoking way too much weed to be able to make such encompassing decisions. It was horrendous. I bought ad space at the radio station to announce our grand opening. I created a snazzy website to highlight pictures and contact information for Excel of Alaska. We were a dozen strong by now, a sisterhood (and even one amazing college bi guy) were we could laugh and bemoan the idiocracies that only daily nudity and happy endings could entail.

Soon enough that space became small and I found a four bedroom two story residential home. I was happy to leave the Pepto pink palace.

Renamed The Parlor, the large house was fairly busy. Open from 10am to 11pm, we offered walk-ins and calls to the house to set up appointments, just like when I had started two years earlier. It was a business. Two blocks away stood The Chateau, a well known Alaskan brothel that had been in business for two decades, closed due to tax fraud. I made sure to pay my taxes.

At the house, we created community and desperately needed boundaries. I  read Veronica Monet’s Sex Secrets of Escorts: What Men Really Want and was able to get some valuable ideas on how to proceed. Really, up until then, we were clueless and just making things up as we went along. We held weekly meetings where we discussed issues that surfaced (like how we wanted to do or not do lineups, or what to do when we had an unruly customer) and signed up for our times to be on the schedule. There were anywhere from 8 to 10 of us, and at least 3 were scheduled per shift, with two shifts in a day.

Three cameras were installed for added safety. We worked together and made money. We laughed and bitched about our lives. We paid our bills and provided for our families. Some put themselves through school to learn massage or obtain esthetician certifications.

Things went smoothly until one night we were burglarized. It happened when we were closed and it was caught on the cameras. I knew it had to have been someone who worked there at one point because they knew where the drop box was. I invested in a large safe the size of a filing cabinet and bolted it to the floor. Then we were robbed. I wasn’t there, but several ladies were, including one of my closest friends. The bullet fired came inches from her head when the robbers became upset that the safe couldn’t be opened. 

The police did nothing to investigate. Instead, a few weeks later, they did a prostitution sting that I learned about one morning when I came in and saw the evidence receipts on the kitchen counter. The police cleaned out the safe, listed $340 as the amount, and arrested two women. They quickly bailed out. No police officer ever came to talk to me.

The final straw was the landlord coming over and tossing everything out, saying I hadn’t paid rent. I had, but it was to the man who had evidently been “subleasing” it, unbeknownst to me. I knew I could pursue legal remedies but I was exhausted. It was time to close shop and move on. 

I held a job at the local paper for a short time while I worked as an independent sex worker. I had got remarried during the time of The Parlor and things just weren’t working out. I got divorced and struggled with feelings of failure that I numbed by drinking heavily.

Months later I stabbed a man I didn’t even know at a bar. I was looking at 7 to 10 years. My kids were still young and I thought my life was over. Somehow I landed a “whale” client. I was given a hefty allowance and had no worries. The 7 to 10 years became ankle monitoring thanks to a private attorney and an agreement to pay the man’s medical bills. Still, I wanted to be self-sufficient, and I was getting older. A 401K plan and medical insurance seemed responsible and safe. I found an admin position at a gas exploration company where I was able to use my skills. I was able to utilize my degree and gain additional training in the human resources field. I remarried.

Visiting my son while he was at Alaska Military Youth Academy, circa 2011.

In 2012 Monica, (the one who had imparted the valuable life-changing information my first night and who I had stayed friends with and worked with on and off through the years), fell upon hard times and returned to Alaska. I put up some ads for her. Never being able to go halfway, I created another website after another friend asked me to post and screen for her as well. Excel of Alaska was created. Within months I became overwhelmed and sick of the time wasters that called so I sold the business, website, and cards, to a young up and coming rapper who’s girlfriend was a few sex worker. I wished him luck. Still, it was hard to walk away. I liked the ability to make extra money and provide for my kids’ things I never had growing up. Plus, I was good at what I did. As long as I kept boundaries and not overwork, I would be alright. Sensual Alaska was created by lessons learned.

One of the things I loved about Sensual Alaska was the creative aspect of website design. I resigned the “knock or call” I had learned because of the need to screen clients. Dangerous things happened to many of my friends and the police never did anything to protect us. I utilized my computer sleuthing skills and completely screened clients before setting up appointments. I still had regulars from years before. I became pickier with who I worked with, not wanting to become overwhelmed. My motto was no drama, no drugs, no drunks.

Happier times with my daughter and then-husband Quinn Batts, early summer of 2014 while we visited family in Juneau.

Then-husband Quinn Batts and I on a 4th of July camping trip in 2014, days before I was arrested.

Fast forward two years.

July 9th, 2014.

I was adding some affiliation codes to the Sensual Alaska website as I sat at my kitchen table drinking coffee. Through the kitchen window, I saw someone I didn’t recognize walk to my door.  I felt shaky fear immediately. I knew something was wrong. I was a private person and people just didn’t show up at my house.  I was being robbed or arrested. 

As I sat on my porch with the lead investigating officer I was adamant that the independent contractor agreements were proof that I wasn’t a sex trafficker. I knew his tactics, saying he wanted to help me, that maybe I knew others in the business. I wasn’t the one they wanted really, but unless I knew some sex traffickers they would have to arrest me. I didn’t know any traffickers. I didn’t know anyone underage. I didn’t associate with others in the business, I stayed to myself and I assured him that if I did come across situations like that I would’ve called the police because victimizing people, especially kids, was horrific.

I hadn’t realized the laws regarding prostitution had changed in 2012. What had been Promoting Prostitution charges became Sex Trafficking charges. This increased the penalties, causing Class A Promoting Prostitution misdemeanors, punishable up to one year, being bumped up to Class C, punishable by up to five years. Class C felonies bumped up to Class B felonies, and so on. I was charged with eight counts of Sex Trafficking, all Class B’s and Class C’s.

Sex traffickers held women, men, and children captive and made them have sex. That wasn’t me. Everyone had their own key to the incall. We made our own schedules. We had contests with weekly prizes of who had the most appointments. We were a community, working together for safety, bitching about crappy clients and competing with each other on tips. It didn’t matter. I fit the broad definition of sex trafficking that was now Alaska law.

Sex work sure, but sex trafficking. No.

I was sure they would get it figured out. I was hopeful that the long-awaited trip I had planned with my now-14-year-old daughter, five days away, would still happen.

It didn’t. In the beginning, I had such high hopes that I would be able to resume to my normal life. 

My first court appearance.   (KTVA News Anchorage)

The judge ordered the strictest bail conditions possible. Electronic monitoring (at my cost of $600 a month), a live third party at all times, and lockdown at home. And no electronics-phone or computer- in my possession. I was still on probation from my years earlier assault, arrested only 2 weeks before I had completed five years of probation without issue, so I was also charged with a petition to revoke probation since I had been arrested, an additional reason for increased bail conditions.

I was able to be out on bail with those conditions for a few months. I wasn’t able to pay my mortgage and had to ask friends to help. Friends brought food over so I could feed my kids, and my sister, who was my third party. After Christmas, right before my daughters 15th birthday, my sister decided she had to go back home. I found a new live third party, which was denied, so I went back to jail, my daughter returning home from school with her mom in jail, again. These were the darkest days of my life and I still recede to quiet places in my mind when I think of these days.

My attorney said I was looking at a 25-year minimum sentence.

A court hearing with my OPA appointed attorney, Brendan Kelley, and his associate.

While I was out on bail my then-husband Quinn Batts was arrested for Sex Trafficking, charged because he had helped me run my prostitution enterprise. His part in my enterprise: he would grab the laundry from the incall.

The State used him as a bargaining chip when they did offer me a plea deal; plead guilty to a Sex Trafficking Class B felony, and he would be able to plead guilty to a Sex Trafficking Class C felony charge. I would have open sentencing, with six to ten years, per judge discretion, and he would have five years, with five years suspended. It was too risky to fight my case, although my attorney was opinionated and exceptional, this was the best outcome.

As per part of the plea deal was I was allowed to bail out again, same conditions minus the live third party. I had the summer to get things in order. I spent every moment I could with my family, with loved ones. I had so much fear of missing my daughter’s high school years.

I contemplated suicide.

I contemplated cutting off the monitor and running away.

I took life day by day and stood as tall as I could at my sentencing, which turned out to be two-day ordeal, beginning on Friday, August 14th, where it was continued and I gratefully had the weekend to be with my children.

On Monday, August 17th, 2015 I was sentenced to five and a half years, just as my daughter started her first year in high school. I was remanded at sentencing. I had remained hopeful the judge would allow me ankle monitor or some other miracle would happen, still, I wasn’t entirely surprised.

Nervous, I tried to make small talk with the female trooper transporting me from the courthouse to the Anchorage Jail. She was quiet until we were waiting at the Anchorage Jail as I was turned over for intake. She told me I was lower than the scum on the bottom of her shoe. I was so angry. I knew then that I was marked as a sex trafficker in the eyes of society.

I walked the yard after being transferred to Hiland Mountain Correctional Center mulling over the day when I could and would speak up for myself. I knew that I wasn’t a piece of shit person and had a long road before me dealing with how society saw me. What would I say? What could I say?

While at the halfway house I faced additional harassment from staff because of my charge. My teenage daughter wasn’t allowed to visit me unless her biological dad brought her in. A man I had divorced when she was three years old and had a wife that did not want him to bring our daughter to visit me.

Because I had the word “sex” in my crime staff and probation officers, people that had control over my life and what and where I could go, made limiting choices for me. The home I had raised my kids in I had to sell since the mobile home park saw my name splashed all over the media and refused to allow me to return. I lost the two dogs I had for over seven years, my son, although by then a young man, became essentially homeless. I told myself I would be okay, it was all just material belongings. Yet even now I have moments of anger coupled with anxiety.

Yes. I was a sex worker.

Yes, I screened clients and set up appointments for myself and others.

And yes I have a sex trafficking charge.

Because of this, I have stuck with my minimum wage job as a server, a job I found while I was at the halfway house. I lucked out and was able to rent a room from a friend, and when she moved out I was able to take over the lease, but before that finding anyone that would rent to me was impossible. To be homeless would mean my daughter couldn’t live with me. To be homeless would mean going back to jail because on electronic monitoring, you had to have an address and a landline for the equipment. 

On November 14, 2018, I was granted discretionary parole. I was scheduled to see my parole officer twice a month, which after a few months was changed to once a month.

I am sure Alaska hoped I would go away quietly, grateful for the five years I was sentenced to. Yet, I was given more consequences than readily visible at my sentencing. My charge limits me because society hears “sex trafficking” and has a preconceived view of what that is, not entirely dependent on individual morals. Truly, when “sex trafficker” is mentioned, even I get a distinct view in my mind. Law enforcement around the world has been well funded by the End Demand movement and the term “consensual” might as well mean “immoral” to many.

Sex workers have been removed from the discussion and the systematic killing of both consent and autonomy has been removed by FOSTA/SESTA. This has seemed to be instrumental in the quelling of numerous deaths of sex workers, vastly ignored by mainstream media. Only sensationalism stands strong, while border agents are serial killers and once vibrant and safe sex workers are found strangled in the park or shot multiple times by police.

I am active in being a part of changing the laws that criminalize sex workers working together for safety and security. We need decriminalization of sex work in order to realistically fight sex trafficking, as well as combat the violence and stigma that sex workers face daily.

I speak up and tell others my story in hopes that more people will understand that sex trafficking and sex work are two very different things. Consent. Consensual. These are terms that have been drowned out by the moral crusaders that say anyone selling their body is unworthy of making an informed decision. The sensationalism of sex trafficking has permeated societies view of sex workers in a very systematic way.

I will not sink quietly into the backdrop. I will write about it. It’s my truth and I get to tell it. I am due to be off parole, with no further legal entanglements this upcoming December 2018.

The last few years have not made me bitter, but instead, have caused me to take a look at what I believe in and what I am willing to risk for my freedom of choice. 

January 2018 in Las Vegas at the Women’s March, with some kick-ass Las Vegas sex worker crusaders.

The Unjust Life of Donna Armey

I met Donna when I was 21.  It was 1996 and I was doing time at Lemon Creek Correctional Center for a Tampering with Physical Evidence charge. I was convicted and sentenced to 5 years with 3 suspended. Donna had been charged with First Degree Murder at age 21 in 1987. She had already served more than 10 years.

Donna was quiet, intelligent, petite and blonde. I wasn’t. I was a hellion when I was 21 and in Lemon Creek Correctional Center. We didn’t have much in common but I had always been in awe of her, partly because of her calming demeanor and partly because she was surviving a life sentence. She didn’t belong there and I knew in the back of my mind somehow, she would be released.

Early parole?

Post Conviction Release (PCR)?

In 2014 I was arrested and placed into Hiland Mountain Correctional Center and Donna was there. I was surprised. I would always see her in the law library, where she worked for .50 an hour. She hadn’t won any of her appeals and had a very slow moving, frustrating one in the works.

She had endured countless people saying they would help her. Some did, to no avail,  and many didn’t. Over time we became close. We were roomies and would have decadent ice cream nights as we watched The Walking Dead. She would cook amazing vegetarian meals purchased from the measly commissary list, her only cooking apparatus a microwave. At times I would sneak her back fresh fruit from the cafeteria since she would very rarely go for their overstarched and empty calorie-laden meals.

Donna Armey is an amazing woman with a heartbreaking tale. I am embarking on this story of a life wasted away due to being incarcerated by hashing it out on this blog and then shedding light on her ordeal by doing two other things. First, I will be creating a website focusing on the many complex issues surrounding her conviction and her PCR, as well as the lawsuits and harassing write-ups and sexual misconduct by DOC, and second, a funding site to assist her with her ongoing PCR.

This is a brave woman who hasn’t sat idly by. Donna didn’t and still doesn’t back down to speaking of her innocence. Being a woman incarcerated you learn to keep your mouth shut. Not make waves. Not speak up. Usually, DOC gets away with this because women have more to lose. Contact with children, contact with the family. That’s not the case with Donna. She was never afforded the opportunity to have children, to raise a family, nor was she able to go to either of her parents’ funerals. She has paid a price. I love and respect her for never giving up.  I have waited a long time to be able to do this for her.

Donna as a participant at one of the Re-Entry Conferences that Hiland Mountain Correctional Center held.

The facts of the case are clear. Donna Armey was convicted of a murder that happened when she wasn’t there and that she didn’t orchestrate.

The shooter, Denbo, has been released and is living free.

What the hell happened and where are they now?

With support from home, Donna hired a well-known Fairbanks criminal defense attorney, Dick Madson, a local defense attorney best known for representing Exxon Valdez skipper Joe Hazelwood.

But before they met, Madson added her husband as his client. Although their interests conflicted, Madson remained the official attorney for both defendants for the crucial next two months.

The prosecution offered plea bargains. Mike Moritz testified and got five years with two suspended for helping kidnap Miner and to take him to his execution.

Clyde Denbo, the killer, also agreed to testify and got a 75-year sentence. If he had been convicted of kidnapping and murder, he could have gotten more than 200 years. He was released from prison in 2015.

Brad Graber helped with the kidnapping but didn’t participate in the murder. He got a suspended sentence for criminally negligent homicide, spending nine months in jail.

The state also offered deals to the Mathises, delivered through Madson. The district attorney would allow Donna Armey to plead guilty to manslaughter, like Moritz, while Geoff Mathis could plead guilty to first-degree murder.

All drug charges would be dropped.

Apparently nothing was put in writing, but the offers were mentioned in court filings later.

Donna Armey didn’t take the plea bargain because she was innocent. But she also says she didn’t understand the risk she faced.

Madson presented the manslaughter deal in a cursory way, taking only a few minutes when all three were in a small prison meeting room together.

Madson did not explain the implications.

The plea bargain offered would have gotten Donna Armey out in a few years at most with no requirement to testify. But after her conviction, prosecutors asked the judge for a sentence of more than 200 years.

In a 2003 affidavit, Madson defended his actions and said he did all he could to convince Donna to accept the plea bargain. The same affidavit also said, falsely, that he never represented both defendants.

Geoff got his own attorney but the couple’s cases were never separated. Having a joined defense created the impression Donna’s behavior was the same as her husband’s. The Anchorage attorney who represented Geoff, Janet Crepps, worked closely with Madson during the trial.

During the trial, Madson made a few efforts to distinguish Donna’s role from her husband’s but presented no witnesses. Most testimonies referred to the couple as “they” rather than as individuals.

Donna could have testified. She was an articulate and appealing young woman and could have believably blamed everything on her husband. She told me she would have told the whole story, including her husband’s part in it.

Madson said in his affidavit that he advised Donna not to testify because she had nothing to say that would help, he didn’t call witnesses because there were none to call, and he didn’t try to split the trials because the defenses of Donna and Geoff were the same.

The decision to pair the couple’s defenses and keep Donna off the stand may have benefited Geoff, who had been Madson’s client for two months.

The trials could easily have been split.

As the trial date approached, Crepps was on vacation. She requested a time extension to prepare.

At that point, Donna could have insisted on her right to a speedy trial, which would have automatically split her case from her husband’s. But she says no one explained the disadvantage of a joint trial and she waived her right.

The other accomplices made plea deals to testify against the Mathises.

In jail before the trial, Denbo told a fellow prisoner, Monte Kimball, that he shot Miner because he had panicked, not as part of a plan, according to a private investigator’s report from the time. But Denbo said he would testify against Donna to get the plea bargain and lessen his own sentence.

Even with that intent, Denbo didn’t offer much against her.

A key piece of evidence suggesting Donna knew about the murder beforehand was what she said when the killers returned to the pickup. Moritz said she asked, having heard three shots, if they had each taken turns firing.

On the witness stand, he failed to back up Moritz’s story about what Donna said right after the shooting.

Instead, Denbo said what Geoff Mathis also told me, that she was surprised by the shots and asked what had happened.

Then, on prompting from the prosecutor, Denbo changed his testimony to agree with Moritz’s.

But 10 years later, Denbo changed his story. In a letter and affidavit sent from prison to the trial judge, he said he had lied to implicate Donna Armey to get the plea bargain. Claiming he had reformed and wanted to clear his conscience, he now said Donna had nothing to do with planning the murder.

Leaving aside Denbo’s testimony, the last piece of evidence disappears that Donna Armey caused the murder.

After hearing all the evidence, Judge Jay Hodges considered dismissing the case, weighing whether Donna Armey could even be called an accomplice in the crime.

Using a legal rule to assume everything in the worst possible light against her, he said it was a close call.

But he let the case go to the jury and they handed her the same conviction as her husband.

Judge Jay Hodges sentenced Donna Armey to 99 years.

Donna as a participant at one of the Re-Entry Conferences Hiland Mountain Correctional Center put on.

What can you do?

Share this blog, help Donna’s story get out there.

She needs media attention and financial assistance fighting her PCR case. Having a private attorney that cares would be optimal.  I will be creating a crowdfunding source and have this linked to Donna’s site, once created.

Set up a Securus account.

Donna cannot call anyone unless they have an account. It costs $1.08 a minute to speak with a voice at the other end of the phone. She has been incarcerated for over 30 years now.

If you set up a Securus account thru this link write her and let her know so she can call you and you can either assist or add numbers to the account so she can contact people to assist.

Donna Armey #139122

Hiland Mountain Correctional Center

9101 Hesterberg Road

Eagle River, AK 99517

Donna as a participant at one of the Re-Entry Conferences that Hiland Mountain Correctional Center held.

Last time I spoke with Donna, she still had a court-appointed attorney, Jason Weiner out of Fairbanks, and was very dissatisfied with his representation. 

Gazewood & Weiner PC

1008 16th Avenue, Suite 200
Fairbanks, AK 99701


Excerpts from and Charles Wohlford’s article


When Sex Trafficking is Sensationalized: Criminalizing Working Together

I presented this to the 2018 CLPP (Civil Liberties  & Public Policy, held at the Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts on Friday, April 13th, 2018.

CLPP is a national reproductive rights and justice organization dedicated to educating, mentoring, and inspiring new generations of advocates, leaders, and supporters. Combining activism, organizing, leadership training, and reproductive rights movement building, CLPP promotes an inclusive agenda that advances reproductive rights and health, and social and economic justice.

My presentation, titled “When Sex Trafficking is Sensationalized: Criminalizing Working Together” was created to bring awareness and a broader understanding of how sex work and sex trafficking are being conflated.

I used Alaska as a case study and explored the differences between the Federal definition of sex trafficking, as well as the differences between New York and Texas State sex trafficking laws.

Also, many may not know this, but in some States, people charged with prostitution, sex trafficking or even patronizing a prostitute must register as a sex offender.

Comments, suggestions, and feedback are welcome. I would like to sit down with different organizations and with our lawmakers to discuss the information presented in this.

Thank you to everyone who helped with this, either with invaluable information, their time, and sitting in my run-throughs.