Appleton, WI

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Appleton is a city of approximately 75,000 residents, located 100 miles north of Milwaukee in Outagamie County, Wisconsin.  Prostitution and child sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities. Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. At least two street-level reverse stings have occurred in the city, between 2011 and 2013. The identities of arrested sex buyers were released to the public. Additionally, web-based reverse stings have been conducted in the city. For example, in October 2016, Appleton Police made multiple arrests during a nationwide sex trafficking and prostitution sting. The investigation resulted in 12 male sex buyers being referred to the Outagamie County District Attorney’s Office on patronizing prostitution (sex buying) charges. Not many details about the investigation were released, but the Appleton Police worked with the Outagamie County Sheriff’s Department and Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation to conducted the operation.

John School

In August 2012, the city established a “john school” education program for male sex buyers arrested in Appleton and neighboring communities (e.g., Eau Claire, LaCrosse, and Grand Chute). Upon conviction, the district attorney’s office has agreed to seek probation for the defendants. As a condition of the probation, arrested sex buyers are sent to the daylong (8 hour) program, where they learn about sex trafficking and the societal impact prostitution has on a community.

In 2012, the city held its first john school session, at the time, making it one of the newest john school program in the country. The curriculum and its content were modeled on the one-day First Offender Prostitution Program in San Francisco. The program attempts to teach arrested sex buyers about the community impact of prostitution, dynamics of sex trafficking/pimping, effect on prostituted women and girls, health and legal consequences, and sex addiction. “5-stones” is a nonprofit organization that fights sex trafficking in Wisconsin, and collaborates on the delivery of the john school program.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Public Education:

Brothel Busts Resulting in Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

John School:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Wisconsin
Type City
Population 74854
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