Dr. Lois Lee is a pioneer in saving the helpless children who are victims of human sex trafficking, blazing the trail for academics, researchers, law enforcement, social service providers and legislators. She is the founder and president of Children of the Night, the first established and only comprehensive sex trafficking program in North America. Since 1979, she has rescued over 10,000 American children from prostitution in the United States—that is more children than all of the other sex trafficking programs combined.
As a result of Dr. Lee’s efforts police departments now treat America’s child prostitutes as victims instead of criminals and juvenile courts divert these children to shelters, foster homes and treatment programs rather than detention. The U.S. Department of Justice and other government agencies have developed tough laws against pimping and pandering and have developed sex trafficking task forces across the country. Several states have developed specific laws and sentencing practices to punish people that pay children for sex and law enforcement operates special investigations to arrest the customers of prostitutes. The government has also created multiple organizations to end human sex trafficking in America. Since 1988 she has served as an expert witness for federal and state prosecutors enforcing laws against dangerous pimps. Chapter Five of her PhD dissertation, “The Pimp and His Game”, continues to be relied upon by vice officers, district attorneys, FBI and U.S. attorneys as a guide for the treatment of child prostitutes.
Lee has been profiled on national television including appearing on CBS’ 60 minutes, and her life was portrayed in a 1985 CBS Movie of the Week entitled “Children of the Night”. She was lauded by rock musician/songwriter Richard Marx in his song "Children of the Night," which appeared on his 1989 Repeat Offender album.
Dr. Lee has received countless awards for her humanitarian work, most notably the prestigious President's Volunteer Action Award, presented to her by President Ronald Reagan at the White House in 1984. She also received the 1994 National Caring Award, and her permanent memorial portrait hangs in the Frederick Douglass Museum and Hall of Fame for Caring Americans in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Lois Lee continues to lead the field in the treatment of child prostitutes. In 2012, Lee forged a relationship with backpage.com in an effort to rescue even more children from prostitution by advertising Children of the Night’s Nationwide Hotline among escort advertisers. In response, traffic on the Children of the Night website went from 7,000 to 30,000 hits a month and the hotline continues to provide lifesaving work to both adults and children who want to escape prostitution.
As a young PhD student Lois pursued court challenges and researched thousands of police reports filed against prostitutes. One fateful evening, Lois received a call from a young woman she met in the courtroom. The young woman told Lois about a girl sent to meet a man for the purposes of prostitution; the man was not answering his telephone and his address did not exist on a map. Concerned for the girl’s safety, Lois proceeded to call the police and went to the police department to insist they send out a car to check on the young woman. At the police department she was told they had no interest in information about a missing “whore”. The next morning the police identified the body of that girl nude, strangled, and dumped on a hillside- she was only 17 years old and was the latest victim of the Hillside Strangler serial killer. Lois was so furious with the lack of attention by the police that she went on KNBC news and announced, “If you are in the prostitution business and you think you know who the Hillside Strangler is and don’t want to call the police, call me.” and put her home telephone number on national news. Thousands of telephone tips flooded her phone line, which eventually led to the arrest and prosecution of the Hillside Stranglers.
Long after the search for the serial killers ended, those in the prostitution business continued to call Lee’s home telephone for help. Some of the people calling for help were children, and because they had nowhere else to go, Lee offered to let them stay with her. Over 250 children passed through her apartment over the course of the next 3 years. From these humble beginnings, Children of the Night was born.
Since 1992, Children of the Night has operated a licensed shelter home for America’s child prostitutes ages 11-17. The Children of the Night home receives America’s child prostitutes from all over the United States and accommodates up to 24 residents at a time, providing an on-site school, individual case management, wholesome recreational outings, and a chance to experience a childhood free from sexual exploitation. The Children of the Night onsite school places 5 children a year in college and to date has placed over 100 children in colleges and universities throughout America.
In the last three decades, Lee has raised over $40 million to provide these crucial services. And her track record is impressive — Children of the Night graduates have gone on to become lawyers, executives and educators, among other professions.
Social service providers come from all over the world to observe Lee's ground-breaking work and visit the Children of the Night home — which is a model for similar programs in the U.S. and abroad. She has been sponsored by other countries — Japan, Romania, Mexico, Canada — to assist in developing such programs and to teach law enforcement organizations how to respond and intervene in the lives of sex trafficking victims while they pursue their efforts to prosecute the vile criminals who prey on these victims.
Recently, she has established a presence in Rome to teach others all over the world how to create life changing programs for victims of sex trafficking and she is currently working on developing financial, law enforcement and political resources for those already working to help sex trafficking victims.
Janet C. Jones – President & CEO Elkins Jones
Chairman of the Board & Independent Voting Member
Dr. Lois Lee – Founder & President - Children of the Night
President & Voting Member
Francis Shelley, CPA, Alvarez & Shelley, Professional Corporation
Treasurer and Independent Voting Member
Patti Massman Neuwirth - Novelist Secretary & Independent Voting Member
Kara Nortman, CEO Moonfrye
Independent Voting Member
David L. Boyd, Chancellor – The Taft University System
Trustee, Orange County Board of Education
Independent Voting Member
Dr. Robert Christie, Professor Emeritus, California State University
Independent Voting Member
Dr. Lois Lee
JD - Member of California State Bar
Jackie Pinedo (2011- Present)
Executive Assistant to the President
M.Ed. DePaul University
Maribel Becerra (2008 – Present)
Director of Case Management
BA in Sociology - UCLA
Sonia Ventura (1993 – Present)
High School Principal
BA in English Literature - UCLA
Madeline Maradiegue (2007 – Present)
Director of Online Education
BA in Liberal Arts - UCLA
Fadwa Assad ( 2006 – Present)
BA in Communications – California State University, Long Beach
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