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Old 01-24-2012, 10:49 AM
Location: Native Floridian, USA
4,907 posts, read 6,123,619 times
Reputation: 6117



Published: Monday, January 23, 2012, 7:00 AM Updated: Monday, January 23, 2012, 3:46 PM
By Terri Finch Hamilton | The Grand Rapids Press The Grand Rapids Press

Andy Soper has helped launch a program, The Manasseh Project at Wedgwood Christian Service after noticing kids in his care who had been trafficked for sex. (Chris Clark | The Grand Rapids Press) Andy Soper gallery (6 photos)

GRAND RAPIDS — Andy Soper has a tough guy face and arms covered with tattoos that help tell the story of his life.
He’s a black T-shirt type who loves motorcycles, British graffiti artist Banksy and coaches the Ice Hawks high school hockey team.
In the button-down shirt and khaki pants world of Wedgwood Christian Services, he sort of stands out.
Soper, 30, is also the man behind Wedgwood’s expansive new project aimed at curbing sex trafficking of youngsters.
Called Manasseh, it hosts a high-profile conference this week at the Kroc Center, including a Thursday evening event designed for the community, and workshops Friday and Saturday aimed at professionals in law enforcement, health care and social services.
Soper has been behind the scenes, laying groundwork for weeks. He’s hit churches, schools, community groups, spreading the word that West Michigan kids are being sold for sex.
“There are kids here who were being pimped out for drugs, pimped out by their parents,” says Soper, who has worked at Wedgwood for years, helping care for troubled teens who live there. “We have one boy in our care who was sold by his mom in a brothel she ran.”

He learned that a 13-year-old girl at Wedgwood who ran away was taken in by a Grand Rapids woman who sold her to men for sex eight to 10 times a day.
Police brought her back to Wedgwood, but she ran away, back to her life of prostitution.
Soper would drive downtown streets at 3 a.m. looking for her....snipped....
this is one of the most inspirational piece I have ever read.

Soper versus Sandusky...what a difference.
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