CBS reporter Walt Hunter details his 40-plus years of fighting sex trafficking

John Rader

By John Rader
March 14, 2022

Eyewitness News Reporter Walt Hunter talks about human trafficking. 
-Photo by Erica Zebrowski
Eyewitness News Reporter Walt Hunter talks about human trafficking. -Photo by Erica Zebrowski

Walter Hunter remembers it like it was yesterday. 

As an investigative reporter, Hunter covered many breaking stories on drug abuse in Philadelphia in the 1980’s. But this one involved a drug-addiction single mother who locked her daughter in a closet while she was out buying drugs. 

Walt Hunter. Photo from Linkedin.

The young girl, trapped in the closet, starved to death, he said.

Innocent victims of the drug world like the young girl never left his mind. In covering these tragic drug abuse stories, Hunter began to shed light on another epidemic that still rages on today, both child abuse and sex trafficking. The story of the child’s death took on emotional toll on Hunter and was one of the main factors that led to his second career in fighting sex trafficking.

“Child abuse/sex trafficking is one of those dirty issues that nobody wants to hear about,” Hunter said during a panel held at Cabrini University’s Grace Hall Feb. 1. Hunter said that he believes that the topic’s disturbing nature often gets pushed aside in mainstream news coverage.

Hunter said he was lucky enough to have bosses who let him report on sensitive subjects like child abuse, which allowed him to shed light on this problem throughout his 40-plus year career.

Hunter’s primary focus throughout his career was on the various systems in place to protect children in the Montgomery County area. However, like reporters often find, the system was broken.

The procedures in place had many flaws, as there was not even records kept of children who reported a sexual abuse case. Not to mention that so much information would get lost in translation, as these kids would be dragged all over the county to three/four different places in order to formally file a report.

This story took on emotional toll on Hunter, and was one of the main factors that led to his second career in fighting sex trafficking.

“Child abuse/sex trafficking is one of those dirty issues that nobody wants to hear about,” Hunter said, as he believes that because of its disturbing nature, it often gets pushed to the side in mainstream news coverage.

Hunter was lucky enough to have bosses who let him report on sensitive subjects like child abuse, which allowed him to shed light on this problem throughout his 40 plus year career.

Hunter’s primary focus throughout his career was on the various systems in place to protect children in the Montgomery County area. However, like reporters often find, the system was broken.

The procedures in place had many flaws, as there was not even records kept of children who reported a sexual abuse case. Not to mention that so much information would get lost in translation, as these kids would be dragged all over the county to three/four different places in order to formally file a report.

“This process was flawed, and would often cause more trauma for these poor kids,” Hunter said, as a procedure that in theory should be painless, would often make an awful situation more uncomfortable for the victims.

It was clear to Walt that something had to change, and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman agreed.

In 2009, Ferman founded Mission Kids, a non profit advocacy center that was created to achieve justice for children who were victims of child abuse.

This center was a centralized place to process victims of abuse, while offering services such as housing, medical, mental health treatment, forensic interviews, family advocacy, and assault prevention/training.

Mission Kids. Photo from Mission Kids Advocacy Center.

The founding of Mission Kids was music to Hunter’s ears, as this revolutionary center put all support, and services victims needed under one roof.

Mission Kids would not only provide the necessary mental health support/counseling needed to abuse victims, but also the legal services required in order to convict their abusers.

Hunter was so enthralled by the services of Mission Kids that when he retired from CBS in 2016, he joined the companies board, and currently serves as their main spokesperson.

Mission Kids has given Hunter an outlet to continue his 40 plus year fight against child abuse, and for that he is extremely grateful.

In addition to the fight in the courts, Hunter believes that boots on the ground journalism is crucial to combating this problem.

Hunter cited his former colleague in Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown, as she was the driving force in reporting the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking scandal.

In Brown’s case, this was a story that took nearly 20 years of reporting, and after numerous times being shut down, Brown was finally able to expose Epstein.

Brown stuck with the story, despite the deck being stacked against her due to Epstein’s wealth, and fame.

“Cover the trial, cover the prosecution, and stick with the story,” Hunter said,  as he believes that boots on the ground journalism is the key to exposing child abuse.

If we all do our part in combating this problem, Hunter believes, “The world would be a better place”

 

Eyewitness News Reporter Walt Hunter speaks on human trafficking.
-Photo by Erica Zebrowski
John Rader

John Rader

My name is John “Jake” Rader and I am a senior here at Cabrini University. This is my second year being a part of the Loquitur, as I am the News Editor for this year's team. In addition to that, I am also in charge of managing the corrections page for the Loquitur. I have an avid passion for being on camera, and showing off my personality. My ultimate goal is to be a news or sports anchor, or doing sports broadcast work. I hope to continue to build my highlight reel this year with the Loquitur, and I have formally interned/blogged for Branded Sports.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap