Ramsey County Attorney John Choi plans to use a civil statute used to protect children from neglect to file no-contact orders against alleged sex traffickers.
The novel approach that could sexually exploited young people away from their abusers.
Although social-service programs already that aim to help prostituted children can work, Choi said they often need additional help.
"Once the intervention has been somewhat successful, I see a lot of vulnerable kids going back to being exploited again," he said. "The reality is kids go back into their families or communities, and these individuals who are doing the exploitation and trafficking, they continue to do it."
The approach could be challenged by civil-liberties advocates, who say it would circumvent criminal proceedings.
Choi said prosecutors would still need to make their case in civil court, where the burden of proof is lower. But he said that would be worth the effort.
"These statutes exist in virtually every state across the nation," he said. "Typically they've been used in the context of a neglectful parent, or somebody who is providing alcohol to a minor. But in this context of sexual exploitation and trafficking, and connecting it to the child-protection system, this is probably the first."