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Akron is a city of approximately 200,000 residents, located south of Cleveland in Summit County, Ohio. Situated at the crossroads of Interstate 76 and 77, the city has struggled with chronic prostitution and sex trafficking activity along major roadways for decades. To address the issue, the Akron Police Department has adopted an aggressive approach to identify and apprehend sex buyers. Officers began conducting street-level reverse stings in the mid-1980s, using one or more undercover female officers as decoys. Operations at times in the 2010s were routinely conducted, resulting in an average of 300 prostitution-related arrests per year. As of 1986, Akron police could seize and impound a sex buyer’s vehicle, depending upon the circumstances of the arrest.
In 1994, the APD also began posting arrestees’ names and other identifying information to the department’s website, in the hopes of deterring other potential offenders. In 2004, the Akron Police Department began posting information about arrested buyers in its “Operation John-B-Gone” list on its website. The online program, which targeted convicted prostituted persons and their customers, includes the buyer’s photograph, name, age, address, and conviction.
City law enforcement has emphasized the importance of community self-policing, and has frequently pursued tips from local residents about suspected prostitution activity. Citizens, for their part, responded by establishing several successful neighborhood watch programs. While the majority focused on increased engagement with police and civic leaders, others like the East Akron Community House, who instituted a “court watch” initiative in the 1980s to monitor solicitor’s convictions, targeted demand directly.
While Akron has not had a formal “john school” program, arrested sex buyers have sometimes been offered a “diversion program” that addresses similar issues. For example, at least one sex buyer was provided the opportunity to pay a $175 fee and take five 90-minute classes on topics such as court processes, the impact of crime on victims, decision-making skills, anger management, and substance abuse. We have not classified this as a john school because it was a generic course designed as a diversion option for all “low-level” criminals, and did not contain any content designed to specifically address sex buying, prostitution, or sex trafficking. Moreover, the City Council later made the diversion inaccessible to arrested sex buyers, as the program was considered to be a means of avoiding punishment.
Another consequence of buying sex in Akron is the loss of employment. For example, in October 2021, a former Akron Children’s Hospital employee and Canfield firefighter was arrested and charged with compelling prostitution and possessing criminal tools in East Palestine. The man worked part-time at the Cardinal Joint Fire District in Canfield, where he was placed on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of his criminal case. The man also worked at Akron Children’s Hospital, where he had no direct contact with patients. A spokesperson there said they fired the man upon learning of the allegations and planned to cooperate with law enforcement. The man had allegedly responded to an ad placed by a Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force agent on a known prostitution website for a mother offering her 15-year-old daughter for sex in exchange for money. He requested sexual conduct with the teen in exchange for cash, and on October 8 he left work early at Akron Children’s Hospital and drove to a designated meeting place in East Palestine where he was taken into custody by police.
In recent years, the Akron Police Department has worked with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office on a number of web-based reverse stings. You can read more about these operations on the page for Summit County.
- Akron Police Department
- East Akron Community House
- “Arrested on Soliciting Charges”, Akron Beacon Journal, August 1 1986.
- “6 Arrested for Soliciting”, Akron Beacon Journal, August 21 1986.
- “Six Area Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Akron Beacon Journal, January 8 1993.
- “Surprise, Fellows, The Trick’s on You: Akron Police Arrest More than 50 Men for Soliciting Prostitution During 4-Day Sting Operation in 3 Areas”, Akron Beacon Journal, June 28 1993.
- “Police Warn of Prostitution ‘Stings'”, Akron Beacon Journal, June 30 1994.
- “Police Sting Apprehends 12 Men for Soliciting”, Akron Beacon Journal, August 26 1994.
- “Nude Man on Prowl, Police Say; Naked Drive, 6 Others Charged with Soliciting in East Akron Crackdown”, Akron Beacon Journal, July 16 1995.
- “Prostitution Sweep Targets Men; Six Arrested in Decoy Operation on West Market”, Akron Beacon Journal, September 13 1995.
- “Two Men Arrested by Hooker Decoys”, Akron Beacon Journal, February 23 1997
- “Lucky John: For Soliciting Sex On The Clock, A School Psychologist Could Have Lost It All”, Clevescene.com, November 10 2004.
- “Brothel Bust: 4 Arrested in Akron”, Fox 8 Cleveland, April 8 2008.
- “7 Men Arrested Seeking Sex with Decoy Prostitutes”, The Plain Dealer, December 22 2008.
- “Florida Cities Expose Prostitution”, Lakeland Ledger, February 1 1994.
- “Names of Johns Will Be Online, Akron Police Will Post Identities on Website as Prostitution Deterrent”, Akron Beacon Journal, December 2 2003.
- “Posting All Johns, The Akron Police Test the Power of Shame”, Akron Beacon Journal, December 3 2003.
- “Ohio Police Use Web to Attack Prostitution”, PoliceOne.com, June 1 2004.
- www.ohio.com/akron/summit-county-prostitution-investigation-results-in-27-arrests-human-trafficking (2013)
Loss of Employment:
- https://www.wtrf.com/ohio-firefighter-former-hospital-employee-facing-sex-charge/ (2021)
- https://www.salemnews.net/police-and-court-reports/2021/10/municipal-court-922/ (2021)
- https://www.wfmj.com/story/canfield-man-arrested-on-sex-charges-after-allegedly-responding-to-undercover-ad (2021)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Stop Prostitution Ring”, Sunday Times-Sentinel, March 11 1981.
- “Akron Man Charged in Girl’s Prostitution”, Pittsburgh Press, July 18 1985.
- “Prostitution Case”, The Pittsburgh Press, December 9 1987.
- “FBI, Police Tracking Freeway Pimps”, Akron Beacon Journal, December 20 1987.
- “5 Akron Men Netted in Prostitution Probe; FBI Assistance Leads to Record”, Akron Beacon Journal, March 23 1988.
- “Police: Akron Mother Forced Young Daughter into Prostitution”, ABC/WEWS-TV 5, June 18 2012.
- “Local Woman Forced into Prostitution as a Teen Is Now Redeemed”, Ohio.com, October 8 2012.
- “Man Arrested for Human Trafficking of 15-Year-Old Missing Akron Girl: Mayfield Village Police Blotter,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 24 2015.
- https://www.wkbn.com/news/ohio/clerk-charged-with-promoting-prostitution-at-akron-hotel/ (2021)
- “2 Groups Prod Akron Officials to Get Tougher on Prostitution”, Akron Beacon Journal, April 17 1985.
- “East Akron Group to Monitor Court Action in Prostitution Cases”, Akron Beacon Journal, November 14 1985.
- “A Neighborhood Keeps Watch: E. Akron Monitors Courts on Prostitution”, Akron Beacon Journal, February 5 1987.
- “Block Clubs Address Crimes”, Akron Beacon Journal, July 4 1998.
- “Akron Residents Vow to Kick Crime Off Block”, Akron Beacon Journal, September 8 2001.
Background on Sex Trafficking and Prostitution in the Area:
- “Prostitution is Proliferating, Residents Complain Akron Judges Not Tough Enough”, Akron Beacon Journal, May 26 1986.
- “Akron Man Accused of Abduction to Force Woman into Prostitution”, Akron Beacon Journal, April 15 1989.
- “8 Arrested on Charges Linked to Prostitution”, Akron Beacon Journal, March 27 1991.
- “Detectives Target ‘Escort Services'”, Akron Beacon Journal, July 11 1996.
- “Sweep Targets Akron Street”, Akron Beacon Journal, July 3 1998.
- “Ex-Officer Is Indicted After Probe”, Akron Beacon Journal, February 20 1999.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 3 Arrests”, Akron Beacon Journal, July 3 2008.
- “West Side Neighborhood Watch”, Akron.com, December 2 2010.
- “3 Arrested in Alliance in Prostitution Sting”, Salem News, December 2 2011.
- “Online Prostitution Ads Popular in Akron”, Ohio.com, December 30 2011.
- http://www.cleveland.com/akron/index.ssf/2014/suspected_akron_prostitute_ple.html (2014)
- http://www.cleveland.com/akron/index.ssf/2015/seven_northeast_ohio_women_arr.html (2015)
- https://www.beaconjournal.com/shame-as-deterrence-bill-would-create-online-registry-of-ohio-johns (2019)
- https://www.cleveland19.com/2020/akron-massage-business-accused-being-prostitution-front-police-said (2020)
- https://www.beaconjournal.com/human-trafficking-prostitution-sting-akron-leads-arrest-hotel-clerk-arlington-road/ (2021)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: