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Anne Arundel County is a county of approximately 590,000 residents, located south of Baltimore in Maryland. Its county seat, also the capital of the state, is Annapolis. Situated along Route 295, it contains a cluster of towns and unincorporated areas that are known for prevalent street- and hotel-based prostitution and sex trafficking (e.g, Laurel, Jessup, Hanover, Odenton, Linthicum, Maryland City). Among the problems stemming from the local commercial sex market are assaults on prostituted women, including cases of homicide. At least one serial rapist of women engaged in prostitution is known to have operated in the county, and there have been many documented cases of robbery and assault.
Among the tactics used to try to contain commercial sex and the crimes surrounding the market are those targeting demand. The Anne Arundel County Police Department (AACPD) has conducted many stings using undercover officers posing as prostituted people and sex buyers, arresting both buyers and sellers. The names, ages, and hometowns of each arrested individual are released to the media. For example, in February 2014, AACPD officers conducted a web-based reverse sting that resulted in the arrest of at least one sex buyer. The individual, a man from Pikesville, was apprehended after arriving at a local hotel to meet what he thought was a woman offering commercial sex acts. The sex buyer came to the designated location dressed in “a shirt with a gold badge on the front,” and a BB gun. Officers charged him with impersonating a police officer, solicitation, and attempted robbery, as it was determined that the man had planned to rob the prostituted woman. In March 2014, a web-based reverse sting resulted in 11 arrests in the hotel district near the Washington-Baltimore airport.
The city of Annapolis is also known to have conducted reverse stings periodically since 1991, and substantial complaints from businesses and residents play a role in police conducting anti-prostitution operations. Agencies have conducted both street-level and web-based reverse stings, and have publicized the identities of those arrested. One operation was a street-level reversal that occurred in October 2012, and resulted in the arrest of three sex buyers. The city also has had neighborhood groups active in collaborating to combat demand, and to have some efforts at public education targeting the buying of sex as the source of prostitution and sex trafficking.
Employment loss is another consequence of purchasing sex that has occurred within the county. For example, in May, 2017, a veteran Anne Arundel County police officer (a Detective) was arrested for allegedly extorting a woman to have sex with him in exchange for testifying on behalf of her ex-boyfriend. The Detective was charged with soliciting prostitution, extortion and assault in what police described as a pattern involving that woman and three others over several months. He allegedly used county resources to arrange meetings where he would pay for sexual acts, department officials said. The offender was taken into custody and has been released on his own recognizance. He has been stripped of police power and assigned to administrative work while the investigation continues. The Anne Arundel County Police Chief said that the investigation into the suspect came after investigators seized both his county-issued and personal cellphones. In May, 2018, the Anne Arundel police detective charged with soliciting prostituted women on the job was sentenced to five years of probation after he pleaded guilty to two charges of misconduct in office. The Circuit Court Judge sentenced the man to two concurrent three-year sentences, with the length of the incarceration fully suspended as the offender serves his probation and resigns from the department. The former detective must also not apply to become a law enforcement officer during the length of his sentence as part of the agreement. An Assistant State’s Attorney said prosecutors agreed to drop a number of other prostitution and misconduct-related charges and recommended probation.
- Anne Arundel County Police Department
- Maryland State Police
- Howard County Police Department
- Laurel Police Department
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
National Assessment Interview
Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “Sting Nets 10 Arrests for Solicitation”, Baltimore Sun, August 30 1994.
- “Police Blotter”, Baltimore Sun, June 18 2008.
- “Prostitution Arrests in Anne Arundel County”, ABC/WMAR-TV 2, March 26 2010.
- “Anne Arundel Police Arrest 4 in Prostitution Sting”, Baltimore Sun, July 6 2011.
- “23 Arrested in Maryland Tri-County Undercover Prostitution Solicitation Sting”, Press Release, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, September 24 2012.
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- “Man Charged with Impersonating Police Officer in Prostitution Sting”, CBS/WJZ-TV 13, February 1 2014.
- “Steven Gravely Jr. Accused of Impersonating Police Officer”, ABC/WJLA-TV 7, February 1 2014.
- “Eleven Charged in Prostitution Sting near BWI Airport,” Annapolis Capital Gazette, December 20 2015.
- https://patch.com/maryland/sykesville-man-charged-prostitution-sting-report-0 (2015)
Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.capitalgazette.com/ph-ac-cn-police-sexual-misconduct (2017)
- https://www.chicagotribune.com/ac-cn-houseman-misconduct-plea (2018)
Neighborhood Action, Public Education:
- “Neighbors Mobilize Against Sex Trade; Annapolis Police Promise to Crack Down”, Washington Post, November 7 2003.
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Conviction in Prostitution Case Upheld; Man Was Found Guilty of Bringing Teen to Md.”, Baltimore Sun, May 1 2001.
- “Details of Alleged Prostitution Ring Are Revealed”, Chillicothe Gazette, May 16 2009.
- “Man Accused of Forcing Girl to Work as Prostitute”, ABC/WMAR-TV 2, June 9 2010.
- “Second Human-Trafficking Arrest Made in Laurel in a Week”, Baltimore Sun, June 11 2010.
- “Four Arrested in Connection with Maryland Prostitution Operation”, NBC/WRC-TV 4, March 3 2011.
- “Woman Arrested for Prostitution and Human Trafficking Compensation in Anne Arundel County”, ABC/WMAR-TV 2, May 24 2012.
- “Takoma Park Man Charged with Human Trafficking”, Baltimore Sun, August 8 2012.
- “Trafficking Victim Works to Help Others Forced into Prostitution”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 11 2012.
- “Anne Arundel County Man Sentenced to 188 Months in Prison For Production of Child Pornography,” Southern Maryland News Net, December 20 2015.
- https://www.capitalgazette.com/news/crime/ac-cn-maryland-linthicum-human-trafficking (2021)
- https://www.marylandmatters.org/why-marylands-sex-trafficked-children-need-a-safe-harbor-law/ (2023)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “3 Arrested in Arundel in Truckstop Prostitution”, Baltimore Sun, December 17 1975.
- “2 Men Charged, 3d Sought in Arundel Prostitution”, Baltimore Sun, February 21 1979.
- “Man Accused of Running Prostitution Ring”, Baltimore Sun, February 1 2000.
- “Prostitution Arrests Made at BWI Area Hotel”, Digital Journal, March 28 2007.
- “Police Conclude ‘Operation Stay Safe'”, Eye On Annapolis, December 9 2010.
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: