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Augusta is a city of approximately 19,000 residents, located in Kennebec County, Maine, south of Waterville. Prostitution has been reported in the community for decades and has generated complaints to police, and local sex trafficking has also been documented. In their efforts to reduce prostitution activity and the crimes it generates – including human trafficking – local law enforcement agencies have launched investigations to identify and arrest sex buyers. For example, in September 2015, media outlets reported the completion of three reverse stings in Augusta and Waterville. The operations marked a collaborative effort between the Augusta and Waterville Police Departments and Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. During the stings, officers placed decoy advertisements suggesting prostitution to websites known for commercial sex sales, and arranged to meet the individuals who responded to the listing at hotels in the two communities. Twenty-one male sex buyers were arrested as a result of the stings; all of the men’s identities were publicized in press. In a joint press release about the investigations, a representative with the APD noted:
“Individuals seeking to patronize prostitutes – and the money they spend – create the market for these crimes and the opportunity for the victimization of many trafficked individuals.”
In January 2016, the Bangor Daily News reported that five of the men intercepted during the September 2015 reversal had pleaded guilty to “engaging a prostitute” and had been sentenced to pay $800 in fines and fees. In addition, Daily News reporters indicated that two more sex buyers had previously pleaded guilty in November 2015; those men were similarly sentenced to $800 in fines and fees but were also required to serve 48 hours in jail.
- Augusta Police Department
- Waterville Police Department
- Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Central Maine Sting Results in 21 Men Charged with Engaging a Prostitute; The Investigation Is Carried out at Three Hotels in Augusta and Waterville,” Portland Press-Herald, September 18 2015.
- “Police Charge 21 in Central Maine Prostitution Sting,” Bangor Daily News, September 18 2015.
- “21 Men Charged in Prostitution Sting,” Boston Globe, September 18 2015.
- “21 Summonsed in Prostitution Sting in Central Maine,” NBC/WCSH-TV 6, September 19 2015.
- “Undercover Prostitution Sting Leads to 21 Arrests,” CBS/WGME-TV 13, September 19 2015
- “Five Men Charged in Maine Prostitution Sting Plead Guilty,” Bangor Daily News, January 13 2016.
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- “Prostitution Bill Is Back before the Senate,” Lewiston Evening Journal, April 27 1977.
- “Prostitution Bill Dies in Senate,” Bangor Daily News, February 7 1979.
- http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/HP0824 (2013)
- “Two Maine Cases Raise Questions about Prostitution, Sex Trafficking,” Portland Press-Herald, April 21 2014.
- “Maine Woman Charged with Aggravated Sex Trafficking,” Portland Press-Herald, July 11 2014.
- https://www.centralmaine.com/augusta-woman-faces-third-prostitution-charge/ (2015)
- https://www.centralmaine.com/augusta-woman-charged-with-prostitution-and-drug-trafficking/ (2015)
- https://www.wabi.tv/Sex-Trafficking-Survivors-Share-Their-Stories-to-Raise-Awareness-Exploitation-Maine (2018)
- https://92moose.fm/augusta-man-arrested-in-Lewiston prostitution-sting/ (2019)
- https://www.newscentermaine.com/bills-to-decriminalize-prostitution-to-be-considered-by-lawmakers-in-augusta (2019)
- https://apnews.com/article/maine-child-trafficking (2021)
- https://www.wabi.tv/lawmakers-discuss-bill-that-would-decriminalize-engaging-in-prostitution/ (2021)
- https://www.thecentersquare.com/mills-vetoes-bill-to-partially-legalize-prostitution (2021)
- https://humantraffickinghotline.org/en/statistics/maine (2021)
Maine Prostitution Statute: