Penn State
Lewis Katz Building, University Park, PA
twitter   facebook   linkedin   Instagram   webmail
Give Now Apply Now

Penn State Law alumna uses law degree to help fight human trafficking

A 2023 alumna of Penn State Law, Korrin Moon is using her J.D. degree to further her efforts to fight human trafficking abroad and in the United States. That work includes Lantern Rescue, a nonprofit that she co-founded in 2019, as well as a position with the DA's Office in Lycoming County, where she serves as a special prosecutor focusing on human trafficking and child sexual abuse material.
Korrin Moon in Versailles, France

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Most aspiring law students prepare heavily for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), spending countless hours in a library, classroom, coffee shop, or in the comfort of their home while they pore over prep materials and practice exams. Korrin Moon’s experience was a bit less typical—although she also spent many hours studying for the exam, her preparation often took place overseas in the midst of operations to combat human trafficking.

“On missions in the middle of the night, the guys on my team would hold the flashlight over the book and I’d be circling stuff,” Moon recalled. “And then we would jump out and do a raid on a club and then I’d come back and start working on some logic problem.”

A 2023 alumna of Penn State Law in University Park, Moon is using her juris doctor (J.D.) degree to further her efforts to fight human trafficking abroad and in the United States. That work includes Lantern Rescue, a nonprofit that Moon co-founded prior to starting law school, as well as a position with the District Attorney’s (DA) Office in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, where she serves as a special prosecutor focusing on human trafficking and child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

“The more people know and learn about trafficking, the more we can do to combat it,” Moon said. “It happens in the United States, it happens all over the world, there’s really no country that doesn’t experience some form of trafficking.”

FIGHTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING ABROAD

Moon’s initial interest in human trafficking began at Lycoming College, where she completed her bachelor’s degree, during a course that introduced her to the topic. Following her undergraduate education, she enlisted in the Marine Corps where she served as a Russian translator for five years. That experience gave her a better understanding of what trafficking looks like overseas, how other countries and nonprofits combat it, and where she saw room for improvement.

Korrin Moon conducting a training program in Nepal“A lot of times with nonprofits, they have the best intentions but the way they set it up is that the only work that can be done is by the actual people employed by the nonprofit, and that’s not the model we wanted to go with,” Moon said. “What we wanted to do is to train local law enforcement and train people within their own communities in foreign countries to be their own task forces and to rescue their own people so that they’re helping their countrymen and their citizens all year round, every day, and not just when the people from the nonprofit in America show up a couple times a year.”

With that model in mind, Moon began the initial work—including building a network—that would eventually lead to the creation of her nonprofit, Lantern Rescue, in 2019.

Lantern Rescue’s stated mission is to combat human trafficking across the globe, and it pursues this goal in large part by helping to develop and train task forces in various countries, with the permission of local governments. It is now operating in eight countries, with plans on the horizon to continue growing and building agreements with more nations.

The organization also helps other countries better understand what laws they already have in place to help them prosecute human trafficking and how best to interpret and employ those laws in court. Moon and her team train and educate on things like digital evidence techniques and strategies for supporting victims throughout the judicial process—with remote video testimony, for example, rather than forcing the victims to face their abuser in court.

“I definitely went to law school with my organization in mind and what I wanted to do with that degree,” Moon said.

PATH TO PENN STATE LAW

After leaving the Marine Corps, Moon was living in California and decided that she wanted to pursue a J.D. Originally from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Moon already knew she wanted to move back to Pennsylvania and attend Penn State Law; however, her plans took a slight detour when COVID lockdowns hit in 2020. Rather than delay law school, she decided to begin at the University of San Diego School of Law in fall 2020 and then transferred to Penn State Law in University Park after her first year.

“Penn State is where I always wanted to go for law school,” Moon said. “I’m super grateful that’s where I got to finish my degree at; I wish I could have started there but COVID had different plans.”

While in law school, Moon utilized weekends and holiday breaks to travel overseas and conduct her work with Lantern Rescue. For example, during spring break of her third year in law school, she traveled to France to work with INTERPOL; during another break from classes, she visited a human trafficking survivor in South America.

“Part of the reason I went to law school was to better benefit these victims and to give a better understanding of the laws and what I can do from a legal perspective to make the laws better in countries, to help implement them, period, in countries,” Moon said. “The reason that we’re so involved in the legal process is because we want to see the trafficker arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

While discussing the value of her Penn State Law degree in helping her better combat human trafficking from a legal perspective, she specifically highlighted her criminal procedure and externship courses with Gopal Balachandran, associate professor of clinical law, director of the Criminal Appellate and Post-Conviction Services Clinic, and director of the Externships Program at Penn State Law.

“Every year, there are students for whom criminal law is a calling, not just required coursework. Korrin fell into this category and was a joy to have as a student, especially given her wide range of experiences and maturity,” Balachandran said. “Although we may have approached legal perspectives from different starting points—my background is as a public defender and she works as a prosecutor—her contributions to classroom discussions were always thoughtful and compassionate.”

FIGHTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING AT HOME

While balancing her courses and her role with Lantern Rescue, Moon also found the time to work as a certified legal intern at the DA’s office in Lycoming County. Not surprisingly, given her background, experience, and passion, Moon stood out right away.

“Since the time that Korrin walked through the door of the Lycoming County District Attorney’s Office as a 1L student, it was quickly recognized that she possessed a skillset and resume that far exceeded most similarly situated 1L students,” said Ryan Gardner, who worked with Moon while he served as the district attorney for Lycoming County, a position he held from 2020 until December 2023.

“Specifically,” Gardner added, “her fundamental knowledge base involving matters of human trafficking and CSAM unequivocally put her on a different plane, especially with respect to her intimate knowledge of what is required to prosecute cases of this nature coupled with her access to various resources that better assist the Commonwealth to effectively prosecute these egregious matters. After Korrin became a certified legal intern, her immediate command of this material allowed her to capably and competently represent the Commonwealth when she stepped inside the courtrooms of the various magisterial and common pleas judges to litigate human trafficking and CSAM cases.”

Since providing this quote, Gardner has been sworn in as a judge of the Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas.

Much like with other countries, specific locations in the United States may have had more or less experience dealing with cases involving human trafficking and CSAM. Moon hopes that she and Lantern Rescue can help fill a need there, as well.

“I hope to reach out to other district attorneys’ offices here in Pennsylvania and my surrounding counties and offer them some free resources from my organization,” Moon said. “A lot of smaller counties haven’t had a CSAM trial or they’re not familiar with it, not familiar with trafficking, so what we do overseas—we want to replicate that in the United States as well.”

While fighting legal battles in the United States and in other countries across the globe, Moon and her organization are also fighting an information battle—filling in knowledge gaps and combating misconceptions and stereotypes about trafficking that can be harmful.

“Trafficking probably looks different from what most people think. It’s not generally a little girl kidnapped in a parking lot and then held in a basement,” Moon said. “It’s often a slow and insidious process in which the victim is manipulated and coerced and the situation builds and escalates. A victim doesn’t look like one specific thing—a victim can be a child, an adult, a male, a female—and it’s not just these really sensationalized things you see in the media.”

Moon has seen these misconceptions both among the general public and within various judicial systems, which can be harmful to investigations and prosecutions because not all cases will look like the “stereotypical” trafficking situation that people have in their minds.

In addition to the specific cases and missions that she works on, Moon wants to use her platform to educate and encourage more people to help make a difference.

“If you want to get involved in combating human trafficking, I would encourage you to get involved at any level,” Moon said. “Whether that is providing legal services to trafficking victims, any pro bono services you can potentially provide are going to be really helpful. Beyond the legal arena, there are many ways to get involved, and really no way that’s too small.”

Share this story
mail