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Amherst is a city in Lorain County, Ohio, located about 30 miles west of Cleveland. Its population is about 12,000 residents. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well documented problems within Amherst and throughout the county. Some cases of the local sex trade have involved involved child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state criminal laws).
For example, in September 2010, two Lorain County men were arrested after it was determined that they paid to sexually abuse an underage girl and then streamed it on adult web-sites for profit. ey were charged with sexual imposition, compelling prostitution, pandering obscenity involving a minor, pandering obscenity, and importuning. Police had received a call from a woman stating that she believed that at least two men were “sexually involved with” her daughter and that it was being streamed on the internet, according to Amherst police. The girl was under the age of 16 at the time, and the videos thus constituted CSAM. Police believed more children under age 18, both male and female, could have been involved and that they were paid for access to sexually abuse them. The men were held at the Lorain County Jail and scheduled to appear in Oberlin Municipal Court. In March 2021, a random registration check in a parking lot in Amherst found a vehicle owner wanted on an active warrant. A traffic stop was conducted and the man was taken into custody for a felony secret indictment warrant for rape, pandering sexually oriented matter, endangering children, gross sexual imposition, compelling prostitution, and attempted pandering of obscenity. Amherst police also charged him with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Among the methods of addressing problems associated with the sex trade are those targeting demand. For example, in August 2021, three men were arrested in Amherst and charged with soliciting prostitution in a reverse sting at a motel on state Route 58. The identities of the men were included in news reports. The sting was carried out in cooperation with the Cuyahoga County Human Trafficking Task Force and Lorain County Prosecutor’s Investigative Unit. The hotel had a long history of reports to police for a wide range of crimes and problems, including overdoses, thefts, fights, and rapes. Police said the hotel’s proximity to larger cities, easy access from state Route 2, and low rates made the motel a likely place for prostitution, and that any time prostitution is occurring, human trafficking is likely.
In September, 2022, authorities charged multiple people during a human trafficking and prostitution operation at an Amherst motel. The Amherst Police Department and the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Investigative Unit conducted a joint enforcement operation which focused on suspected human trafficking and prostitution activity. During the operation, officers and investigators interviewed several people at a motel located on N. Leavitt Road who had arrived seeking prostitution services. The men arrived and met with an undercover police officer posing as an adult female in prostitution. In addition to soliciting prostitution, the men were charged with possession of criminal tools in regards to their vehicles, which facilitated them in the commission of an alleged crime. Each vehicle was towed from the scene. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were publicly disclosed.
- Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office
- Investigative Unit
- Amherst Police Department
- Cuyahoga County Human Trafficking Task Force
Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://chroniclet.com/four-arrested-in-motel-6-prostitution-bust-in-amherst (2021)
- https://m.facebook.com/posts (2021)
- https://www.morningjournal.com/4-arrested-in-amherst-prostitution-sting (2021)
- https://www.morningjournal.com/amherst-police-charge-five-men–human-trafficking-prostitution-sting-at-motel/ (2022)
- https://www.morningjournal.com/amherst-police-charge-five-men-after-human-trafficking-prostitution-sting-at-motel/ (2022)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- https://www.cleveland.com/teenage_girls_were_virtual_prisoners – man charged forcing victims into prostitution (2013)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- https://www.morningjournal.com/prostitution-ring-cracked-by-elyria-police (2013)
- https://www.news5cleveland.com/three-people-arrested-in-elyria-prostitution-and-drug-bust-house-condemned (2013)
- http://www.chroniclet.com/Four-arrested-in-Lorain-prostitution-sting (2015)
- https://www.morningjournal.com/spa-under-investigation-following-prostitution-complaints (2017)
- http://www.chroniclet.com/Elyria-police-arrest-two-women-believed-to-be-running-brothel (2017)
- https://chroniclet.com/amherst-and-vermilion-police-blotters/ (2021)