By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Governor Larry Hogan unveiled bills Thursday designed to provide harsher penalties for offenders and better treatment for victims.

It begins with victims of human trafficking. There are all kinds of reasons. For many it starts in childhood and teen years.

“Yeah everybody’s story is different. It started when I was 18 and I left home,” said a victim who wished to remain anonymous.

There are hundreds of sex trafficking survivors in Maryland, nearly a third were introduced as children. Governor Hogan is asking the general assembly to further define sexual abuse to include trafficking and allow service providers like Samaritan Women to step in.

“People are recognizing our women as victims rather than criminals,” said a Samaritan Women employee.

Sexual predators are also addressed. A repeat sexual predator murdered Sarah Foxwell in Wicomico County in 2009. New legislation would allow previous crimes to be introduced as evidence in sex crimes and the governor wants to expand the newly enacted Noah’s Law named for the Montgomery County officer killed by a drunk driver to make third time offenses a felony with jail time.

“It’s hard to imagine any opposition to these,” said Hogan.

But there is work ahead. The state has already fully funded service agencies involved with $46 million in grants.

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