Athens is a city and county seat of Henderson County, TX and has a population of approximately 13,000 residents. Prostitution and sex trafficking have recently been documented in the city. Among the more serious issues associated with the commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, from July 14th to July 16th, 2021, three Athens men were arrested for felony sex offenses as a result of an investigation conducted by the Texas Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Unit and the Arlington Fugitive Apprehension Unit. The first of the three Athens men was arrested on July 14th, 2021, by the Fugitive Apprehension Unit, as a result of having multiple outstanding warrants. The first warrant was issued by the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office for two counts of human trafficking and the second warrant was issued by the Irving Police Department for one count of human trafficking. The second Athens man was arrested on July 15th, 2021, as a result of an operation that was initially conducted as a request from a local Child Advocacy Center to investigate a child discovered to be a victim of sex trafficking. During the investigation, it was discovered that the offender had recorded the assault on his cellphone. The offender was arrested on the felony charge of sexual assault of child and was transported to the Henderson County Jail on a $250,000 bond. The third offender was arrested on July 16th, 2021, in Riverside County, CA due to an outstanding warrant from the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office. Human Trafficking Unit and the Arlington Fugitive Apprehension Unit had originally attempted to locate the offender in Athens, TX, but learned he was in Riverside, CA. When contacted by Texas officials, Riverside Police Department officers arrested the offender the following day. He was subsequently transported to Henderson County Jail and booked on three felony counts of sexual assault of a child and one felony count of child sex trafficking.
Shaming and loss of employment are also consequences of buying sex in the city. For example, in April of 2021, the Mayor of Athens, TX was arrested in Gregg County, TX by the Longview Police Department on the felony charge of online solicitation of a minor during a Texas Department of Public Safety operation targeting individuals seeking to sexually exploit children in exchange for money. According to the city of Athens website, the mayor’s current term is set until 2023 however, after being released from jail on a $300,000 bond, the former mayor resigned from his position. The former mayor’s identity was included in reports by local media sources.
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- https://www.athensreview.com/news/rural-areas-not-immune-to-human-trafficking/article_fbf8c25a-4fdc-11e8-a8e2-07951deec638.html (2018)
- https://www.athensreview.com/news/human-sex-trafficking-a-real-issue-in-east-texas/article_0e273586-5a8c-11ea-824a-5782cf5f3735.html (2020)
- https://www.athensreview.com/news/easy-targets-broken-homes-lead-to-vulnerabilities/article_f697be3e-5a8d-11ea-a525-3bba8bce6089.html (2020)
- https://www.athensreview.com/news/human-sex-trafficking-is-happening-in-your-own-backyard-rural-communities-at-risk/article_f3884fd8-5a8d-11ea-affb-47561cc9e638.html (2020)
- https://txhendersonodyprod.tylerhost.net/PublicAccess/CaseDetail.aspx?CaseID=689488 (2021)
- https://txhendersonodyprod.tylerhost.net/PublicAccess/CaseDetail.aspx?CaseID=696453 (2021)
- https://www.athensreview.com/news/state-agency-arrests-athens-man-for-sexual-assault-of-child/article_07a40236-eb0c-11eb-91dd-d765401462a7.html (2021)
- https://smcorridornews.com/texas-weekly-law-enforcement-round-up-other-noteworthy-items/ (2021)
Loss of Employment for Arrested Sex Buyers:
- https://www.athensreview.com/news/update-athens-mayor-resigns-after-arrested-for-online-solicitation-of-minor/article_274eb082-c4eb-11eb-8347-97d1fa9cd209.html (2021)
- https://www.the-sun.com/news/3013853/texas-mayor-charged-with-soliciting-child-for-sex/ (2021)
- https://www.news-journal.com/news/local/mayor-of-east-texas-town-arrested-in-gregg-county-on-charges-of-online-solicitation-of/article_5eddf745-e706-54f2-830a-1f12b9b486e8.html (2021)