The Victim in Katie Britt’s Sex-Trafficking Story Is Correcting the Record

In Katie Britt’s response to Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, the Republican senator from Alabama invoked a story of a woman whom she claimed had repeatedly been gang-raped after being “trafficked by the cartels starting at the age of 12.” The disturbing anecdote, in Britt’s telling, provided proof of the worst effects of the president’s “despicable” border policies and a “crisis” he supposedly created. However, in the words of the actual victim, much of what Britt claimed was untrue.

“I hardly ever cooperate with politicians, because it seems to me that they only want an image,” Karla Jacinto, the woman whose story Britt altered and deployed for political gain last week, said during a Sunday interview with CNN. “They only want a photo—and that to me is not fair.”

While it is true that Jacinto was a child victim of sex trafficking in Mexico, her abuser was not a member of a drug-trafficking gang but instead was a “professional pimp” that preyed on vulnerable women, according to The Washington Post. Moreover, she was victimized in Mexico—not the United States—and her years of abuse began two decades ago, when George W. Bush was in office—not Biden—making her story completely divorced from the current administration’s border policies. Jacinto also added that she never met with Britt one-on-one, as the senator claimed; the two instead met at an anti-sex-trafficking event attended by other public officials.

News outlets started scrutinizing Britt’s story days ago, shortly after it was debunked Saturday on TikTok by former Associated Press reporter Jonathan M. Katz, who called the anecdote “fundamentally dishonest.” Nevertheless, Britt has doubled down, claiming in a Fox News interview Sunday that she never tried to suggest that Jacinto’s abuse took place during the Biden presidency. “And so listening to her story, she is a victim’s right advocate who is telling ‘this is what drug cartels are doing, this is how they’re profiting off of women,’” she said, still ignoring the fact that Jacinto was not trafficked by a Mexican cartel. Britt did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jacinto, now an advocate for victims of sexual abuse, responded that “[Britt] should first take into account what really happens before telling a story of that magnitude.” All lawmakers should be “empathetic with the issue of human trafficking” she added, “because there are millions of girls and boys who disappear all the time.”

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