Bronco Ryan Murphy New Poster Boy for Super Bowl Anti-Sex-Trafficking Groups

News that Broncos practice-squad player Ryan Murphy had been sent home from the Super Bowl after being swept up in a Santa Clara prostitution sting made headlines nationwide.

And even though Murphy was only questioned, not arrested or cited with a crime, during the incident, his case is being highlighted by groups fighting against sex trafficking at the Super Bowl and beyond.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation specifically notes the Murphy situation in the context of a press release declaring that "the normalized culture of commercial sex is a leading contributor to the spike in sex trafficking during the Super Bowl and other large sporting events."

“Just days before the Super Bowl, we see a prominent sports figure contributing to the demand for prostitution and sex trafficking,” executive director Dawn Hawkins maintains in a statement. “Prostitution is an inherently exploitive and damaging institution, and is intrinsically linked to sex trafficking. All of the media buzz and awareness about sex trafficking during the Super Bowl ultimately falls short when role models engage in buying sex. Commercial sex, in any form, provides sex traffickers — who are functionally the same as pimps — with the marketplace to sell individuals.”

Hawkins sees the Murphy case, and the attendant publicity it's generated, as a teaching moment — and she's hoping the Broncos will be among the students.

"The National Center on Sexual Exploitation offers the Broncos a training workshop on the harms of sexual exploitation, and the role that they can play in helping to prevent it, in the hope that these role models can lead the way in defending dignity," her statement concludes.

In the meantime, Lowell Hochhalter, a chaplain with Montana's Missoula County Sheriff's Office, is currently visiting the San Francisco area in connection with a group called FREE International; the first word is an acronym for "Find Restore Embrace and Empower."

On its Facebook page, the MCSO notes that Hochhalter is "working with the FBI and local law enforcement to help young girls and boys who are being trafficked during the Super Bowl. With his FREE International team, a group that focuses on human trafficking and forced prostitution, they hope to get these children to a safe place where they are no longer forced into slavery."

These points are reinforced by Hochhalter during an interview with KGVO radio; we've got the audio below. Along the way, Hochhalter talks about the Broncos' decision to send Murphy home simply for his association with the sting.

“I’m very proud of the Denver Broncos to make their stand and to send him home,” he notes, adding, “With the Olympics coming up in Rio de Janeiro, our group will be there along with many others, because the Olympics is a huge draw for prostitution and human trafficking.”

As a result of mentions like this one, Murphy continues to receive more publicity than many of his Broncos teammates, even though he wouldn't have taken part in the Super Bowl under any circumstances and now will be watching the game from home.

Look below to see an Inside Edition report about Murphy that includes footage of him being detained, followed by the Hochhalter interview.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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