Even before she took the witness stand, Bill Cosby’s lawyers sought to silence Dr. Veronique N. Valliere.
They tried to bar her from testifying at Cosby’s sexual assault trial, but the Pennsylvania judge overseeing the case ruled against them.
In the end, the psychologist took the stand to talk about the behavior of sexual assault victims and why Cosby’s victim maintained a relationship with the celebrity comedian even after the assault and waited a year before going to police.
On Tuesday, Valliere will visit Buffalo to speak at a human trafficking training conference sponsored by U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr.
Her topic: “the mind and manipulation of the human trafficker.”
Taking place during the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking of Victims Protection Act, the nation’s first human trafficking law, the one-day conference is seen as a way of educating the community on the ongoing existence of human trafficking across our region and how people can help eradicate it.
“The cases are truly happening everywhere,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan A. Tokash, who led the effort to organize the conference. “The more people are aware of this problem, the more we can help victims.”
Tokash said the attendees are not just police and district attorneys, but also representatives from local schools, hospitals and nonprofit groups.
“We’re really getting a wide reach,” she said. “We have no limitation on who can come.”
The conference, scheduled for Tuesday at the Buffalo Grand Hotel, will include speakers talking about a wide range of issues, including coercion-based labor and sexual trafficking, how to interview trafficking victims and what to do when a victim becomes a trafficker.
In recent years, federal prosecutors here have pursued a number of human traffickers, most recently a 52-year-old Buffalo man convicted of using threats, violence and drugs to keep his victims in line.
Valentino Shine ran his sex trafficking operation from his Humboldt Parkway residence, and the victims he exploited and coerced into prostitution were usually drug-addicted women.
A jury last fall found Shine guilty of five counts of sex trafficking, and earlier this month Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci sentenced him to 30 years in prison.
In her address, Valliere will talk about the mind of human traffickers and how they use power and control to target victims.
During her appearance at the Cosby trial, she testified that sexual assault victims such as Andrea Constand, one of the women assaulted by Cosby, often maintain a relationship with their attacker as a way of returning their life to normalcy. She also testified that victims are often reluctant to go to the police.
Tokash said the conference, which is occurring during Human Trafficking Awareness Month, is a one-of-a-kind event.
“We’re kind of a torch bearer,” she said of the training and outreach effort. “We’re kind of leading the way.”
A similar conference is scheduled for Wednesday in Rochester.
As part of the effort, Kennedy will appear in a public service announcement seeking to raise awareness about human trafficking.