Sex trafficking rumors take aim at City College church club

Viral+PSAs+accused+Church+of+God+followers+of+using+their+church+groups+as+a+front+for+a+sex+trafficking+organization.+
Viral PSAs accused Church of God followers of using their church groups as a front for a sex trafficking organization.

Viral PSAs accused Church of God followers of using their church groups as a front for a sex trafficking organization.

via @Daughterelohim on Instagram

via @Daughterelohim on Instagram

Viral PSAs accused Church of God followers of using their church groups as a front for a sex trafficking organization.

C.N. Williams, Staff Writer

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Viral PSAs targeted a San Diego City College bible study club by alleging their involvement with human sex trafficking, according to law enforcement.

Incident reports in the San Diego Community College District Police Department’s public crime logs indicated that individuals had accused members of the Zion Bible Study club, an affiliate of the World Mission Society Church of God, of seeking women on campus for sex trafficking.

Three accounts of the allegations were filed with the SDCCD Police at City College between August and October of this year, according to the logs.

Responding to an inquiry by The Mesa Press via email, Martin Cuevas, president of the Zion Bible Study club at City College, said that the rumors started in 2017, “but really started to reach the San Diego area around January of this year.”

Cuevas added, “We also believe that the rumors continue to spread because we are very active, not only in the community, but on the college campus.”

Twitter posts revealed that similar accusations took place on campus at San Diego State University.

Raquel Herriot, Community and Media Relations Special Advisor to the Chief for SDSU, corroborated the activity within the university’s police department. “I can confirm that our department has received reports,” she wrote in an email. “Detectives investigated them, and there is no further action at this time.”

Before the rumors arrived in San Diego, allegations spread across much of the United States. NBC25 reported in October of 2017 that the Michigan State Police investigated a viral Facebook video’s claims, ultimately finding them to be inaccurate. “He was right about being vigilant,” NBC quoted the State Police on Twitter, “but that’s it.”

Police forces throughout the country similarly reported that they found the information within the PSAs to be unfounded — just as the SDCCD Police had.

According to Lt. Louis Zizzo of the SDCCD City College Police, the only official report filed in his department was to “document the nature of the call and the concern of the reporting party.” He said that Officer Maricela Walker, who investigated the incident, confirmed the legitimacy of Zion Bible Study club by contacting Marciano Perez, the City College Dean of Student Affairs. Zizzo also confirmed that SDCCD Police took no further action on the incident.

“The duty of the school staff is to look for the best interest of the students,” Cuevas emphasized in his email. If the City College group was really a front for sex trafficking, Cuevas reasoned, “would they really allow us to be a recognized club on campus as well as hold weekly bible studies and seminars?”

Cuevas noted that there is no requirement by the school to notify the district, or even the campus, of the social media rumors because the club has not been threatened with physical harm.

As far as recovering from the blow to their reputation, Cuevas and the Zion Bible Study Club have a plan for the future. “We want to be proactive,” Cuevas wrote. “We hope that, as adults, everyone can see who we are for themselves so that they can come to know that we are only interested in sharing the love of God through our bible studies as well as our actions.”

According to its website, the Church of God — known more colloquially as ‘God the Mother’ — is a Christian non-denominational church that was originally established in 1964, in South Korea.

 

 

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