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Florida man to walk from Fort Lauderdale to DC for human trafficking awareness

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By MIKE MAGNOLI, WPEC

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WPEC) - The dark side of the Sunshine State.

Human Trafficking.

Young girls being used as sex slaves, living in deplorable conditions.

A bailiff in Broward County wants to bring awareness to the problem and wants the penalties to be harsher for the bad guys.

So he is getting ready for a very long walk.

From Fort Lauderdale to Washington D.C.

WPEC met with the man behind this journey for justice.

He sees victims and their criminal handlers coming through the court-room. He's fed up with the cycle so he's hoofing it to Capitol Hill.

"When ordinary people get involved, changes happen," said Roger DeHart.

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On a daily basis, DeHart sees faces from the street life, facing a judge and jury.

They've landed in trouble.

But sometimes, the stories are examples of human trafficking and DeHart says those are the stories that keep him up at night.

"There was a 14-year-old girl, she went to church, a straight-A student, from a great family and a few years later she became a sex slave - with over 100 guys," DeHart said.

This Saturday, DeHart will begin an epic walk from the courthouse where he works to the nation's capital, a trek lasting 51 days, give or take.

Once there, he'll host a rally on the steps of Congress that will feature survivors, law enforcement, and law-makers.

"To show this country and the world, OK, it's time to really deal with human trafficking." DeHart said.

Lina Thompson is a friend of DeHart's. They met through the cause. Thompson was forced into the sex trade in Eastern Europe after being a teenage runaway. She now works with girls so they can recover from that life.

"People like Roger helped me to get to where I am today," Thompson said.

"It's too hush hush, the schools are hush-hush about it. I remember back in the days when they had the war on drugs, you has people talking about it, you had billboards, radio stations had ads, that's why I feel more motivated to challenge this topic," DeHart said.

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DeHart leaves this Saturday morning and his first stop for a night of rest is in West Palm Beach, Fla. Readers can visit his website here.

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