Ashland, OH

Tactics Used

Buyer Arrests
Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Ashland is a small city of approximately 20,000 residents, located in north-central Ohio’s Ashland County, near Mansfield. In their efforts to deter sex buyers and reduce the size and scope of the community’s commercial sex market, local law enforcement have conducted at least one reverse sting.

In May 2015, a collaborative task force led by the METRICH Enforcement Unit and including officers with the Ashland and Mansfield Police Departments placed decoy advertisements suggesting prostitution, and arrested 15 sex buyers who responded to the listings. A web sting targeting women engaged in prostitution was conducted in parallel in nearby Mansfield, resulting in the arrests of 5 prostituted persons.

When asked about the investigation, law enforcement reported they had fielded 144 emails and 153 text messages from individuals interesting in purchasing sex during the sting. Officers investigated 15 men who responded to the advertisement, finding that 75% of that group were city or county residents or currently working in the county and 25% were from surrounding counties. Ashland Police Chief Dave Marcelli expressed concern at the high volume of responses to the ads, saying:

We had no idea we’d have 300 contacts, and the behavior is not just prostitution but associated crimes. Two guys showed up with guns, then there’s the drug issues and human trafficking concerns.”

In a comment to the Ashland Times-Gazette, a representative with the Ashland Police added:

“If the public is made aware of it, we can hopefully deter future crimes… This won’t be the last time we do this. This isn’t acceptable in the city limits of Ashland, or anywhere, and we’re not going to stand by and let it happen.”

The sex buyers’ names, ages, and addresses were released to the press. Sentences for the 15 men arrested in the May prostitution sweep in Ashland County included jail time, suspension of driver’s licenses, community service, and probation. For example, one man appeared in Ashland County Municipal Court for a scheduled bench trial, but before the trial could begin, his attorney asked to change the plea to guilty to his two charges, which were soliciting sexual acts for hire and possessing criminal tools (both misdemeanors). After accepting the guilty pleas, the court sentenced the defendant to 60 days in jail for the soliciting count and suspended 20 days, resulting in serving 40 days in Ashland County Jail. The court also suspended his driver’s license for six months, fined him $650 between the two charges, placed him on one year of probation and ordered him to complete 100 hours of community work service. Other sentences included:

  • 60 days in jail, all suspended, one year of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $250 fine.
  • 60 days in jail, all suspended, one year of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $350 fine.
  • 60 days in jail, all suspended, one year of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $250 fine.
  • 30 days in jail, none suspended but given credit for jail time served, and $500 fine.
  • 30 days in jail, all suspended, one year of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $350 fine.
  • 60 days in jail, all suspended, one year of probation, 200 hours of community work service and a $400 fine.
  • 60 days in jail, all suspended, one year of probation, 200 hours of community work service and a $350 fine.
  • 60 days in jail, all suspended, one year of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $350 fine.
  • 60 days in jail, all suspended, one year of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $350 fine.
  • 60 days in jail, all suspended, one year of probation, eight hours of community service and a $500 fine.
  • 60 days in jail, all suspended, one year of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $350 fine.

Key Partners

  • METRICH Enforcement Unit
  • Ashland Police Department
  • Mansfield Police Department
  • FBI
  • Richland County Sheriff’s Office
  • Knox County Sheriff’s Office
  • Crawford County Sheriff’s Office
  • Galion Police Department
  • Bellville Police Department
  • Shelby Police Department
  • Ashland County Sheriff’s Office
State Ohio
Type City
Population 20390
Location
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