Abilene is a city located in west central Texas in Taylor County, with a population of about 124,160. Among the problems associated with local commercial sex are assaults on prostituted persons. For example, in 2010 a teen-aged male pleaded guilty to raping a prostituted woman.
In an effort to deter local sex buyers, the Abilene Police Department (APD) incorporated the use of street-level reverse stings in 2005. Operations are now conducted two to three times a year, using one or more female undercover officers as decoys. For example, at least three men were arrested in a street-level operation conducted in May 2018, and reverse stings in Abilene have yielded up to 18 arrests. Web-based operations have also been conducted. Once arrested, sex buyers may have their names and other identifying information released to the public. As per state legislation, solicitors are charged with a Class A or B misdemeanor and jailed; men must post a bond of as much as $750 to be released. Convicted sex buyers are also forced to complete mandatory community service.
In their efforts to curtail commercial sex sales in the area, Abilene Police have assisted in the creation of several neighborhood watch programs. APD officers insist that residents’ tips and complaints have been invaluable when tracking prostitution activity in certain areas, and encourage community members to continue to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement.
In December 2017, two Abilene men were arrested after falling for a child sex sting operation. Both were taken into custody after arriving at an arranged meet-up with an undercover officer posing as a 16-year-old online. An arrest report states the undercover officer responded to a personal ad one of the men had placed for sex, claiming to be the 16-year-old. The man acknowledged the undercover officer’s “age” and still asked for and sent explicit pictures. Both men have been charged with Online Solicitation of a Minor, and one was also charged with Sexual Performance of a Child Employ Induce/Authorize for the explicit pictures. Their identities were disclosed in news reports.
In May 2018, six men were arrested by the Abilene Police Department on prostitution charges. All six of the men were charged with prostitution, a Class B misdemeanor, and released on $1,000 bond. The Abilene Police Department said that they would release more information about the operation at a later time, to protect the ongoing investigation and officer safety. In December 2019, another five men were arrested in a similar reverse sting, and their photos and identifiers were included in news releases.
In February 2020, 12 men were charged with Class B misdemeanor prostitution as part of an ongoing online prostitution and human trafficking investigation from 2019. The investigation started after police learned that a woman from China was kept in Abilene for 6 days and was trafficked for sex to at least 20 men. Identifying information about the men arrested was released to the public. A Class B misdemeanor prostitution charge can result in a fine of up to $2,000, a maximum of 180 days in jail, or a combination of both.
- Abilene Police Department
- Interested Citizens of Abilene North (I-CAN)
National Assessment Survey
Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- “16 Men, 4 Women Arrested in Daytime Prostitution Sting”, Abilene Reporter-News, March 3 2008.
- “Prostitution Arrest”, BigCountryHomepage.com, March 3 2008.
- “Five Big Country Men Arrested During Prostitution Sting Operation”, BigCountryHomepage.com, March 22 2012.
- http://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/2-abilene-men-fall-for-craigslist-child-sex-sting (2017)
- http://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/crime/at-least-3-arrested-for-prostitution-in-abilene (2018)
- http://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/6-men-now-arrested-in-abilene-police-prostitution-sting-operation (2018)
- http://ktxs.com/news/abilene/6-men-arrested-in-abilene-police-prostitution-sting (2018)
- https://www.reporternews.com/abilene-police-chief-13-arrested-2-day-online-child-sex-sting (2019)
- https://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/13-arrested-during-child-predator-sting-in-abilene/ (2019)
- https://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/crime/5-suspects-including-acu-student-arrested-during-prostitution-sting-in-abilene/ (2019)
- https://www.reporternews.com/abilene-police-file-prostitution-charges-against-12-men-human-trafficking-case-online-solicitation (2020)
- “Sting Targets Carver Area: Abilene Undercover Police Net Drug, Prostitution Arrests”, Abilene News-Reporter, December 14 2006.
- “Neighborhood Posts Signs to Deter Drug Use”, Abilene News-Reporter, June 24 2007.
- “Car Show Helps Raise Money for Carver Neighborhood Group I-CAN”, Abilene News-Reporter, October 15 2011.
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- https://ktxs.com/abilene-isd-teacher-19-other-men-suspects-in-human-trafficking-investigation (2019)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Abilene Police Execute Successful Prostitution Sting”, BigCountyHomepage.com, March 23 2012.
- “Abilene Police Cracking Down on Prostitution”, KTXS-TV 12, March 26 2012.