WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — As a survivor of human trafficking, Alicia Tappan has waited nearly 20 years for the moment that came to fruition Friday night. Tappan, the Executive Director of The Secret Place of Northwest Florida got to thank, in person, the man she said saved her life when she was a teenager. Adam Benschoter, a staff member at her high school, reported to police how a coach had been victimizing her which ultimately sent the coach to prison.

Adam Benschoter and Alicia Tappan, 2003

“After almost 20 years of not being able to say thank you, I think my closure is kind of complete with that story about my past. It no longer makes me fearful. It kind of gives me joy like we’re doing something, and to see that he’s now a principal means that I know he’s doing more work that’s better in that community,” said Tappan.

In Florida, everyone is a ‘mandatory reporter,’ meaning if you suspect abuse of a child you are required by law to report it.

Adam Benschoter and Alicia Tappan re-connect in Miramar Beach, FL. July 29, 2022

Friday night, Tappan, with the help of WKRG News 5’s Rose Ann Haven and local law enforcement, presented Benschoter with the Mandated Reporter Award. Haven was asked to participate because she helped Tappan and Benschoter reconnect after nearly two decades. Benschoter said he never doubted Tappan, he’s proud of how she’s helping other victims through survivor leadership and feels unworthy of receiving an award for doing the right thing.

“When I go through training with my staff, some of them feel like they’re afraid to get involved because if they’re wrong, if they make the wrong accusation, then it comes back on them. But, to me, if a kid, if a student is going to trust in something that you take care of that and you follow through, whether it’s right or wrong or indifferent. You need to follow through because that’s their perception,” said Benschoter.