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article imageOp-Ed: On Sr. Rosemary's request to the media to not sugar-coat evil Special

By Jonathan Farrell     May 23, 2014 in World
South San Francisco - While watching Charlie Rose on PBS earlier this month, this reporter was moved by Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe of Uganda asking the media to not let the subject of human trafficking become "old news" something to be forgotten.
My gut reaction was, "what can I do? I am nobody!" Yet then I realized and remembered a local case of human trafficking right here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Last year, there was a human trafficking case right in the very midst of of the everyday, in South San Francisco. Hearing Sr. Rosemary speak of the horrific circumstances of the victims she works with at her school, St. Monica's in Gulu, Uganda, reminded this reporter of the human trafficking case busted in South City this past summer. I reported on that for the Peninsula Progress.
That was June of 2013," said Karen Guidotti, speaking on behalf of the office of District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe for San Mateo County. On June 13, as reported in the San Francisco Examiner, law enforcement busted a prostitution operation which was coordinated by a husband and wife team referred to as "Bob and Coco." The husband, Zhi Liu, age 49, was arrested. While wife, Wei Gou, age 51, was not present at the time of the raid.
"The wife remains at large," said Guidotti to this reporter by phone. "the man, Zhi Liu is scheduled for a pre-trial conference this coming July 28 and a jury trial is scheduled for August 25."
When I mentioned to Guidotti about the Charlie Rose program and Sr. Rosemary's request to the media that human trafficking not be forgotten, she agreed. "It is a very real and serious crime and it can happen anywhere." Guidotti and her team with the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office have not stopped in their pursuit of the culprits in this case. Yet, unfortunately, she said that even though the bail was set high at $200,000. Zhi Liu was able to have the bail fee paid and is now out, awaiting trial. "But his passport has been confiscated," she said.
The Charlie Rose interview with Sr. Rosemary was broadcast on PBS on May 7  2014. It also can be see...
The Charlie Rose interview with Sr. Rosemary was broadcast on PBS on May 7, 2014. It also can be seen on the Charlie Rose web site archives, as pictured here.
Guidotti noted while human trafficking is a serious crime, Zhi Liu has a constitutional right to post bail. Another frustration in working with such cases is that even when law enforcement and courts move as quickly as they can, "witnesses can loose memory or become hard to locate."
Which leads into another obstacle, if culprits leave the country. Given the scope of human trafficking, that could happen to this case. Yet Guidotti and her team are determined to bring Zhi Liu to trial.
In the May 7 broadcast on PBS of the interview with Charlie Rose, Sr. Rosemary said, the media has a responsibility to call evil by its name and not to "sugar coat evil." She pointed out that the "ugly" evil of human trafficking is an evil "against humanity."
Sr. Rosemary was also speaking out about the abduction of the school girls in Nigeria by the radical extremist-terrorist group Boko Haram. This past Wed. May 21, President Barak Obama informed the House speaker and the leader of the United States Senate that a unit of 80 armed forces personnel was deployed to the region to aid in the search efforts.
While the situation is hard to fathom, especially for us Americans on the other side of the globe, Sr. Rosemary reminds people that, human trafficking is a global problem, very pervasive, "it can happen anywhere." This is why she asks the media to keep "talking about it."
And, it is important to note that local cases like the one in South San Francisco are still vulnerable as officials work to bring culprits to justice, even with a jury trial date set.
To learn more about Sr. Rosemary and St. Monica's Vocational School, visit the website Sewing Hope.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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