LEWISTON — District Attorney Andrew Robinson is calling on state lawmakers to decriminalize prostitution and allow its victims to seek to have past convictions sealed.
The bill he supports “would acknowledge that people who are caught up in the nightmare circumstances of human trafficking and sexual exploitation are victims” rather than criminals, Robinson told legislators.
It’s something that Lucia Lombardi of Lewiston knows too well.
Lombardi told legislators in a public hearing for a related bill this month that when she was younger “I was involved in prostitution to access food, a place to sleep and drugs.”
“I was only there due to extreme poverty,” she said. “I was into prostitution to survive.”
At the time, Lombardi said, “I was on autopilot, barely surviving, exchanging sex to pay for basic needs.”
Under the measure backed by Robinson, “buying sex would remain illegal in Maine” and penalties for it would increase. But selling sex would no longer lead to arrests under the proposal.
“The people who create the victims are the ones paying for sex and they are the ones who should be subjected to the criminal justice system,” said…