Graphic though they may be, the media and everyone else should call the exploiting of underage children for sex what they really are: sex trafficking and child rape.

In 2008, Jeffrey Epstein, reportedly a wealthy financier who hobnobbed with the

famous, pleaded guilty to two state felony

charges of “procuring” a girl, age 14, for

“prostitution” and solicitation of prostitution.

Alexander Acosta, then the U.S. attorney in Miami and now secretary of labor, agreed to a sentence of 13 months in a Florida jail. Epstein was allowed to go to his office six days a week.

The fact of this lenient deal is at least part-

ly a testament to the power of the wrong name.

Prostitution has always criminalized females as much as males. Anti-prostitution laws mostly focus on keeping undesirables off the streets. Prostitution is even couched as a “victimless” crime.

The New York Times reports that the new federal charges brought against Epstein in the state of New York are the same now as then. He is charged with bringing girls as young as 14 to his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla., for sex. He is also accused of paying some of them to recruit other underage girls.

The difference now is that prostitution is being recognized for what it really is, sex trafficking. Women and girls exploited for sex are victims. Even when younger victims don’t recognize the exploitation, they are never in control, not even the girls whom Epstein reportedly paid in cash.

The victims of sex trafficking in the United States are mostly Americans, lured into the life by false promises of love, excitement or an economic way out. Epstein’s lifestyle would have made those falsehoods easy to believe for naïve girls.

According to the new charges, being let off so easily allowed him to traffic hundreds or perhaps thousands of girls after he served his sentence in Florida. If they were under 18, that trafficking should be called what it really is: child rape.

Using the wrong name minimizes the seriousness of despicable practices. It reduces the accountability that should be extracted from the exploiters. It also fails to properly protect and care for their victims.

The filings in New York against Epstein no longer cover this crime with euphemisms like “procuring” or “prostitution” that seem to imply some responsibility on the part of the “procured.”

Sex trafficking of juveniles tells a far darker, but more accurate story and demands the diligent pursuit of justice. Victims deserve the use of the right names.

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