- Sex trafficking victim Hope Zeferjohn, 21, waits to see if Kansas Governor Laura Kelly will grant her clemency
- Last year former Governor Sam Brownback’s successor Jeff Colyer denied Zeferjohn’s request for a pardon without comment
- Zeferjohn was trafficked by Anthony “Angel” Long while she was in foster custody in Kansas
- The Shawnee County District Attorney’s office claims Zefrerjohn was a “willing participant” in Long’s prostitution of underage girls
In Kansas, 21-year-old Hope Zeferjohn waits to see if Governor Laura Kelly will grant her clemency after being denied by former Governor Sam Brownback’s successor Jeff Colyer last year. Zeferjohn is in jail after being lost in state custody at the age of 16 and placed into the hands of Anthony “Angel” Long.
Zeferjohn’s father, Terry Zeferjohn died in September 2018. Throughout his life Terry was obese and on disability. The home Zeferjohn grew up in was “violent and poor” with Terry “always looking for income,” Stacey Kelly told CJ Online. Stacey is an ex-girlfriend of Terry’s and the mother of one of his children. She is also Zeferjohn’s godmother and claims to remember Terry telling his daughters, “You bleed, you breed.” Meaning they should begin having children as soon as they physically could to use as a source of income or assistance.
Anthony “Angel” Long
Zeferjohn’s childhood in a broken home became worse at 14 when her older sister brought Long into their home in Topeka for the very first time. Long came with a criminal record that included domestic battery, assault and a criminal threat against an ex-girlfriend. Despite Long’s criminal past, Terry welcomed him into the family’s home. Long was said to even stay overnight quite often.
In January 2014, police responded to a call at Zeferjohn’s home after a fight broke out between her and one of the other children. While investigating the fight officers discovered a serious case of neglect and truancy. According to Stacey, the house was full of feces, trash and clothes were thrown everywhere. The roach infestation was so bad they would come out during the day and the house was heavily infested with bed bugs.
Kansas Department For Children And Families
By order of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, three of the children went to live with Stacey while Zeferjohn—who was 15 at the time—was placed in “out-of-home placement” in Salina as part of her sentence for a misdemeanor battery charge stemming from the initial call to police. In August 2014 Zeferjohn was sentenced to 16 months in the custody of the Department of Corrections juvenile offender program. While in state custody Zeferjohn thrived, even with having a child of her own in March 2015. Zeferjohn graduated from high school and bought her first car while in state custody. However, Zeferjohn’s success in state custody was about to come to an end after Long showed up in Salina.
Long managed to trick authorities into giving him Zeferjohn’s location. Once Long found Zeferjohn they began a relationship that would quickly turn abusive. Long began taking videos of him having sex with Zeferjohn—who was underage—that he would sell. He began controlling every aspect of her life through threats of violence towards her and her young son. Long eventually brought Zeferjohn back to Topeka where he forced her to recruit other underage girls for his prostitution business. Long would sometimes have Zeferjohn use Facebook to make contact with potential girls.
The House Mother
Long ran his prostitution business out of a family member’s home. Zeferjohn would refer to herself as the “house mother.” As house mother, her duties included cooking, cleaning and keeping the other girls in line. In more common street slang, Zeferjohn was a “bottom girl” or a “bottom bitch.” Zeferjohn was groomed and threatened by Long to run his prostitution business and used to recruit other underage prostitutes. Being the house mother did not give Zeferjohn much privilege though. When Long forced her into prostitution she gave him all her earnings under the threat of extreme violence. On two different occasions, Long beat Zeferjohn so bad that she miscarried. Long also threatened to hurt Zeferjohn’s son or other loved ones if she did not completely obey him. Zeferjohn was a prisoner of Long.
Eventually Zeferjohn “ran away” with Long to New York where he had family and she would work for him. It is not clear how willing Zeferjohn was with the plan as those familiar with the situation say Zeferjohn was extremely afraid of Long due to the severe abuse. While in New York Zeferjohn was arrested for shoplifting at a Walmart. It was during that arrest police learned Zeferjohn was a runaway and she was returned to Kansas. In June 2016, Zeferjohn was charged as an adult with 10 felonies, including, aggravated human trafficking; conspiracy to commit rape; conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sodomy; indecent solicitation of a child; electronic solicitation of a child; aggravated intimidation; and criminal threat. ZeferJohn had two additional misdemeanor charges of endangering a child and contributing to a child’s misconduct or deprivation.
Despite being a victim of Long herself, Zeferjohn found herself equally responsible for the crimes committed. Court records say Zeferjohn reached out to a 14-year-old girl she met while living in a foster home via Facebook. Zeferjohn introduced Long to the girl on Facebook through a fake account. Long requested the girl come and live with them in exchange for sex and threatened to kill her if she notified the police. Zeferjohn was said to have “ordered” the girl to do what Long says. Court records also say Zeferjohn recruited a 15-year-old girl by offering her drugs provided by Long. Long requested both girls have sex with him as payment for the drugs. Court records say Long also took pictures of the girl and told her they were for “Johns.” The 15-year-old girl reported Long to the police and he was arrested. After Long was released from jail Zeferjohn once again reached out to the girl for him. Court records say Long and Zeferjohn retaliated against the girl multiple times. One of the retaliations included taking the girl to Junction City where she was sold to a man who made her stay in a motel room for an entire weekend. The girl was said to have made $6,000 that weekend for Long.
A Willing Participant
Long was sentenced to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted aggravated human trafficking, indecent solicitation of a child, electronic solicitation of a child and four counts of sexual exploitation of a child. Prosecutors dropped nine of the 10 felonies against Zeferjohn and both misdemeanors for assisting with Long’s prosecution. Zeferjohn pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated human trafficking compared to Long’s attempted human trafficking. Her plea deal allowed her to receive just under six years in prison instead of the possible 15. If Long is ever released from prison he will have to file as a sex offender for 25 years. Zeferjohn will have to register for the rest of her life.
Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay says Zeferjohn’s sentence was fair since his office could not corroborate her claims of being a trafficking victim. Instead, Kagay accuses Zeferjohn of being a “willing participant” in order to sexually exploit and abuse children for her boyfriend Long. Kagay has went as far as to claim Zeferjohn has already received clemency when his office gave her “approximately half of the legally presumptive sentence.” Kagay told KMUW his office “took all factors into account.”
Brownback’s Poster Family For Reunification
Before the system failed Zeferjohn by allowing Long to know her location in Salina, her family was used as a photo-op for Brownback. In May 2015 Zeferjohn’s family stood behind Brownback regarding a 7% increase in family reunification of families within the DCF system. Zeferjohn’s family was chosen to participate in the photo because they “met the criteria of recently reunified” and were also able to appear for the photo “within short notice.” The Zeferjohn children were only back in their family home for a short period. The children were placed back into foster care within six months.
Colyer denied Zeferjohn’s clemency request last year and did not comment on the reason why. Current Democratic Governor Kelly told KCUR and The Topeka Capital-Journal, “I will consider every clemency request I receive after a full process of developing facts and with input from those affected, but more importantly, our state has a structural criminal justice problem that needs to be addressed.”