Sally and Chuck Cook
Sally and Chuck Cook

Sex trafficking of minors is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the United States, and the average of entry is 12 years old.

These grim statistics changed the direction of the lives of Santa Barbara’s Sally and Chuck Cook in 2013 as they came face to face with the horrors of how vulnerable children and women within our communities are being groomed for sexual exploitation.

Santa Barbara is not immune from the sex trafficking issue, being a corridor town between Los Angeles and San Jose, reportedly the highest grossing areas for this crime.

To enlighten Santa Barbara community members about the issue, the Cooks, who are co-founders of Hope Refuge (now the Olive Crest Hope Refuge Campus), will present a talk on Combating the Epidemic of Child Sex Trafficking in Santa Barbara, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 at All-Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 83 Eucalyptus Lane, Santa Barbara.

A wine and cheese reception will follow the talk.

Anxious to be part of the solution to combating child sex trafficking, the Cooks gave up everything they had built in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles to start Hope Refuge, one of California’s largest residential treatment programs in Santa Barbara. It has served nearly 80 minors in the last three years.

The Cooks have been raising awareness of what is happening locally and advocating for the victims getting caught up in the crime of sex trafficking of minors.