NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Just days after a well-known assistant prosecutor was fired from the Nashville District Attorney's office, a participant in a program she founded is lobbying to keep the program going.
Antoinette Welch started The Hannah Project in 2011 to help victims of sex trafficking. She found out on Sunday she was fired from the Nashville District Attorney’s office.
A 30-year-old Lebanon woman, who did not want to release her name, said she met Welch in 2012, when she was referred to The Hannah Project after she was arrested for prostitution.
“Your charge gets expunged, and you get educated and find resources,” said the woman. “It opened my eyes to let me know that I was worth something.”
The woman said with the help of the program, she turned her life around, and took steps to put a man who raped her behind bars.
“There’s a lot of girls out there who need help, and who need that person to pick them up and give them some words of encouragement,” she said.
She said prostitution and sex trafficking is more common in Middle Tennessee than many people realize, and she believes programs like The Hannah Project are an important resource for victims. She is concerned the program’s future is now up in the air.
“I’ll be okay. I’ll be fine,” she said. “ I worry about the other girls who are in the shoes I was in.”
The District Attorney’s office released a statement that said:
“The District Attorney’s Office has expanded its efforts to help women live safer and healthier lives by working with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Metro Nashville Police Department and End Slavery Tennessee. Sex trafficking victims need our support and the offenders need to be prosecuted. We will continue to participate in the monthly educational program designed to help women charged with prostitution offenses. There is much work to be done in the area of assisting victims of sex trafficking and this office intends to be at the forefront of that work.”