Talk to focus on human trafficking


Human trafficking of men, women and children is “one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world,” according to the Ohio Department of Health. It is estimated that more than $35 billion is illegally garnered each year. National governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and even corporations are increasingly involved.

While all 50 states confront this issue, Ohio has ranked as high as fifth in the nation. Why? Five major highways connect us to other states and to Canada. Our urban areas and rural counties attract a vulnerable immigrant and transient population.

Two notable state and county officials will speak Friday, March 6, at noon at the Great Decisions Free Community Discussion Series on Current U.S. Foreign Policy at the William Street United Methodist Church, focusing on the local impact of global trafficking.

Carol O’Brien is deputy attorney general for law enforcement for the State of Ohio. Before joining Attorney General Dave Yost’s office, O’Brien spent 12 years in the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office, the last eight as the prosecutor, serving also as a special prosecutor in numerous criminal cases in counties throughout the state. Earlier, O’Brien was an assistant attorney general in the Attorney General’s Office and an assistant prosecutor in the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office.

Prior to those roles, she was a staff attorney for clinical programs within The Ohio State University College of Law, for the Neighborhood Legal Assistance Program, and for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality. In 2016, O’Brien was recognized as Ohio’s Outstanding Prosecuting Attorney for her dedication to justice. She has been an active member of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorney’s Association, serving as president in 2019. O’Brien has a B.A. in political science from Northwestern University and a law degree from the University of Toledo.

Christy Utley is major of operations in the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Major Utley began as a dispatcher in 2000. She quickly proved herself and was promoted to deputy sheriff in 2002. She was assigned to the MARMET (Marion Metro Drug Enforcement Unit) Drug Task Force in 2004. Promoted to lieutenant in 2015, she later was assigned to the detective bureau where she supervised general duty detectives and the MARMET Drug Task Force officers. She was appointed major of operations in 2018.

Utley was awarded the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association Medal of Honor for bravery in 2018 for her response in a violent shootout, when a local woman was shot by an estranged boyfriend. In 2019, she received the ATHENA Leadership Award® from the Marion Women’s Business Council for professional excellence, community service and actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.

All Great Decisions meetings begin at noon in the Fellowship Hall of the William Street UMC, 28 W. William St., Delaware. Attendees may bring a brown-bag lunch. Coffee and tea are provided.

Available for purchase is a booklet with articles about this year’s eight topics, compiled by the Foreign Policy Association. Audience participants can complete a survey to add their opinions to thousands of others across the nation. Survey results are sent to Washington decision-makers.

The Delaware County District Library’s main location in Delaware and the Orange branch make the booklet and a bibliography of important books on current international affairs available to Delaware county readers.

The topic for the Friday, March 13, discussion is “Climate Change and the Global Order” featuring Sean Kay, chair of the International Studies Program and a professor in the Politics and Government Department at Ohio Wesleyan University. He is also a Mershon associate at The Ohio State University.



Special to The Gazette

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