Fact Check: Monica Petersen Did NOT Die In Haiti While Investigating Clintons For Sex Trafficking

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Monica Petersen Did NOT Die In Haiti While Investigating Clintons For Sex Trafficking Another Reason

Did human rights activist Monica Petersen die in Haiti while investigating Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton for sex trafficking? No, that's not true: The American activist died in Haiti in November 2016, but there is no credible evidence linking her death to any investigation into the Clintons or sex trafficking. A former colleague at the University of Denver's Human Trafficking Center told Lead Stories that Petersen's death was a suicide.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Instagram by the_wandering_sufis.1 on March 14, 2024. The post's on-screen title said:


This is what the post looked like on Instagram at the time of writing:


(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Fri Mar 15 17:45:28 2024 UTC)

The post

The post on Instagram directs readers to the comments section for additional details. This is what it says:

Monica Petersen died in November of 2016 while doing research on child trafficking in Haiti.

'Her death has been reported as a suicide, but her Mother says she does not believe that.'

'At Monica's memorial her teacher, Professor Claude d'Estrée made the following statement: '(She) decided to take on one of the demagogues in the field of human trafficking. Produced a 110-page analysis of human trafficking in Haiti - 2 years of research. We were looking for someone who was smart enough and maybe brave enough to publish her work. We will continue to seek out and publish it for her. We are in a state of shock. We may never know what exactly happened to her.'

... Source article with further details below

Monica Petersen 'Suicided' After Exposing Clinton Human Trafficking


International Trafficking Center

The professor supposedly quoted in the article above, Claude d'Estrée, a professor of international law and human rights and founder of the University of Denver's Human Trafficking Center (HTC), where Petersen worked, told Lead Stories in a March 15, 2024, email that the reporting is not true. He said:

Monica was a dear friend and colleague and sadly died by suicide. She was not investigating human trafficking in Haiti nor the Clintons. The [Instagram post] from wandering-sufis-1 is inaccurate and not what I said at her memorial.

Please let Monica rest in peace and leave those of us who knew and loved her alone with our memories of her.

Petersen's obituary (archived here) says she received her master's degree from the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies. After graduating, she worked at the HTC as a research fellow and the assistant to the director, who at the time was d'Estrée. The HTC page on Facebook (archived here) announced her death on November 13, 2016:


(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Mar 15 22:07:54 2024 UTC)

In addition to d'Estrée's email to Lead Stories, Petersen's obituary from November 2016 states her reasons for being in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, at that time:

After leaving her position at the Korbel School this past June, she moved to Haiti in September to teach and set up an NGO (non-governmental organization). At the time of her death she was teaching Social Sciences at the Union School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims about child trafficking and of claims related to the Clintons can be found here and here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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