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(LifeSiteNews) — Having read so much about the human trafficking exposé Sound of Freedom, I went to a local cineplex and caught the controversial film. It was my good luck to have the theater entirely to myself during the first morning show — good luck because I spent much of those two hours in tears.

To say the movie is disturbing would be an understatement of the first magnitude. Even in this time when sexual degradation is the plot line of pretty much every movie and TV show, the perversion documented by this film is shocking.

Yes, people really are doing unspeakable things to little kids. I’m not talking only about those monsters who lure God’s innocents into the hellish sexual underground. There are also those ordinary people — folks who live down the block, folks who may be your acquaintances, your friends, your family members — whose willingness to pay, or to receive, money for the exploitation of children makes this vile trde so lucrative and widespread.

It truly is widespread, and not at all far away.

Trafficking is going on in Naples.

Believe it!

I’ve discussed the issue with local law enforcement officials. It’s not just a rumor, not just a vague possibility. It’s an active reality.

Young people’s lives are being destroyed. Right now, right here.

Lt. Wade Williams of the Collier County Sheriff’s Department’s Intercept and Victims Services Bureau describes the practice euphemistically as “child abuse for financial purposes.” He revealed to me that 22 local victims have been identified just since April (the youngest only two years old). There have been 17 prosecutions.

“Naples is no different from anyplace else,” he said.

This disgusting criminal enterprise — global in scope — is enabled by the Internet, making it easy to share kids’ photos and arrange contacts, the ultimate goal of which is to bring the “customer” and the “product” together.

Ana Stevenson, founder of the Collier County-based organization, Path2Freedom, explained that such meetings usually take place at area hotels and motels. In 93 trafficking cases over the past four years, more than 20 such facilities have been identified. Stevenson charges that owners are turning a “blind eye” to the crimes taking place right on their own premises.

Appallingly, it’s not just professional criminals conducting this sordid trade. Stevenson noted an instance in which a six-year-old boy had been trafficked by his mother since the age of three.

That case gives credence to an observation by Lisa Stedman, founder of Collier Citizens Against Sex Trafficking, who told me that this is “the dark underbelly of all of our neighborhoods, including right here in Collier County.”

She urged greater awareness and training, especially for police, hospital staff, and school personnel, who are in positions to spot signs of abuse, and “prevent it from happening unchecked.”

But it isn’t easy, as Monica Nagy, founder of the local group I Am Fuse (and an abuse victim herself), has made clear. She shared that “not all of us look like the movies. Some of us still go home at night to our parents, some of us aren’t dirty, some of us don’t have bruising, some of us are being trafficked by the family members who are supposed to keep us safe.”

It may seem strange that I call Sound of Freedom controversial. Granted, this film about real-life rescues of trafficked youngsters is hard to watch. But who could object to telling such a vital and urgent story? Who wouldn’t want public awareness raised so that action might be taken?

Sadly, there are plenty of people who see a threat in this riveting, fact-based drama.

Distribution of the film was blocked by the Hollywood studio cabal for five years. When it was shown to the U.S. Congress, members of only one party attended. Care to guess which party stayed away?

I’ve read that some consider the film a kind of lurid, right-wing fantasy — partisan porn for the MAGA crowd, if you will.

One can only wonder what interests are being protected, what connections are being shielded. I suspect there are individuals in positions of political power who make Jeffrey Epstein look like Mr. Rogers.

But that’s a topic for another article.

Right now, I’m intent on doing what I can to get the word out about child sex trafficking. We must reach those people who may not be willing to watch a harrowing film, but who still need to understand what’s going on, and to grasp the immediate danger it poses to their children and grandchildren.

There’s no better way to get attention than with a little Hollywood glitz.

So I’m currently in contact with the production company behind Sound of Freedom. We’re planning a special event to be held in Naples. Jim Caviezel, the actor who stars in the film, and Tim Ballard, the rescuer on whose actual experiences the movie is based, will be here to provide insight into this horrendous situation. They’ll discuss the reality behind the story, even sharing material that wasn’t included in the film.

We’ve set a date and a location: Thursday, October 19, at the Grand Hotel. Admission is $500 per person. Proceeds will support anti-trafficking activities in Collier and Lee Counties.

For ticket information call: 239-262-5433.

You must learn about child sex trafficking, because it has to stop. Please attend our event.

This essay is based on a homily delivered by Fr. Orsi. It can be viewed above.

A priest of the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, Rev. Michael P. Orsi currently serves as parochial vicar at St. Agnes Parish in Naples, Florida. He is host of Action for Life TV, a weekly cable television series devoted to pro-life issues, and his writings appear in numerous publications and online journals. His TV show episodes can be viewed online.