A new scandal has emerged on the horizon for the US Department of Justice. Reuters reports that internal complaints within the justice department itself have raised concern over a non-profit group receiving anti-human trafficking grant funds. The group in question: Hookers for Jesus.
The Nevada-based group is run by Annie Lobert, a self-described “born again Christian” and human trafficking survivor. The group purports to aid trafficking victims by offering refuge in a safe house. Lobert, however, prohibits the reading of “secular magazines that portray worldly views/advice on living, sex, clothing, makeup tips” in the safe house. Training manuals for Hookers for Jesus also describe drug use as “witchcraft” and condemn homosexuality.
In a statement, Lobart told Reuters “We are not going to discriminate toward anyone. But,” she added, “we are Christian. And there is an understanding before they come in here that we are Christian.”
Hookers for Jesus has received more than $500,000 in grant funds since 2017. The group initially received money in 2017 as part of a grant, but had those funds cut off after concerns arose about the way Lobart had run the organization. Documents issued by the state of Nevada reveal grave concerns over Lobart treating victims in her care “like prisoners” and forcing them to attend religious services. In her initial grant application, Lobart denied that anyone in the care of Hookers for Jesus would have to attend church services. The same documents also criticized her lack of experience in treating men, minors, and foreigners.
In a statement to Reuters, Lobart claims to not remember the denunciation of homosexuality in Hookers for Jesus guide manuals, saying “That is probably something we don’t have anymore.” When pressed, she declined to release the current training materials to the public.
Hookers for Jesus is just one of several non-profit, anti-human trafficking groups receiving grants from the Trump Administration to come under fire. Another, the Lincoln Tubman Foundation, has received criticism for a lack of experience and infrastructure. The group was founded by a prominent Republican and former delegate to Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention.