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Bend is a city with approximately 97,000 residents in central Oregon on the eastern edge of the Cascade mountain range, along the Deschutes River. It is the government seat and principle population center of Deschutes County, OR. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies. Among the more serious problems associated with commercial sex in the area include child sex trafficking and child sex abuse material (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state law).
To combat such crimes, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all prostitution and sex trafficking. As early as 1992, local ordinances provided for the seizure of vehicles used during instances of soliciting prostitution. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers, the Bend Police Department (BPD) has conducted investigations and reverse stings. For example, in May 2009, detectives conducted a web-based reverse sting where they contacted women through websites known for prostitution and sex trafficking. The operation resulted in the arrest of six women and three men (in some cases, the men were acting a sex traffickers/pimps). Charges included conspiracy to commit prostitution, prostitution, outstanding arrest warrants, compelling prostitution, promoting prostitution, and first-degree possession of child sex abuse material (CSAM). According to the BPD release, the sting was conducted because of “a marked increase in online postings for sexual services from prostitutes in the Bend area.” Detectives from the BPD routinely monitor websites which are believed to allow individuals to post solicitations for commercial sex.
In March 2012, detectives from the BPD started investigating an Internet listing offering “escort” services at a local motel. Detectives observed three individuals, one male and two female, enter and leave the hotel. The two women were later arrested on prostitution charges and the male for soliciting prostitution.
In August 2016, four people were arrested or cited in a sting at several Bend hotels. The BPD, assisted by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Redmond Police Department, Sunriver Police Department, and Oregon State Police, conducted the “proactive operation targeting human trafficking” between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. One 19-year-old woman who had been a victim of sex trafficking since she was 13 was saved. One of the arrested sex buyers cited and released on a charge of soliciting prostitution. Police said a similar operation was conducted a few years previously, though it was not similarly publicized.
In September 2019, an online ad placed by undercover officers during a human trafficking awareness training event led to the arrest of a 55-year-old male sex buyer. The man had made arrangements to meet a 19-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl at a local hotel. Police contacted the suspect at an agreed-upon location and found evidence corroborating the his criminal involvement. He was arrested and taken to the Deschutes County Jail on two counts of prostitution and one count of purchasing sex with a minor. During the course of this investigation, Bend Police also arrested eight people who attempted to patronize adult sex workers. They were cited and released. Patronizing a prostitute is a Class A misdemeanor.”
Sex buyers have also been arrested as the result of leads from the community and resulting investigations. For example, in 2016, the BPD received an anonymous tip regarding suspected sex trafficking and/or prostitution activity occurring at a local hotel. As a result of the investigation and subsequent search warrant, it was found that two men who had visited the rooms where the alleged sex trafficking activity occurred had committed the crime of commercial sexual solicitation. They were both issued citations and released. Police also identified the prostituted woman and arrested her on prostitution charges. The names of the two male sex buyers were included in reports by local media outlets.
In May 2019, a 911 call was made regarding suspected prostitution occurring inside a hotel. Bend officers responded to the hotel, made contact with two women and one man, and discovered evidence related to the crime of prostitution. All three individuals were arrested for prostitution.
In December 2019, a 15-year-old missing female from the Portland area was rescued by Bend police on Christmas Eve. According to the BPD, officers found a 40-year-old Portland resident, a 29-year-old Gresham resident, and the girl from Portland when conducting a traffic stop on a stolen vehicle. Officers discovered heroin and methamphetamine in the car, along with numerous stolen and forged identification documents. Several of the documents were linked to thefts in the Portland area and one of the adults was found to be in violation of a restraining order for being in contact with the 15-year-old. During the course of the investigation, police say they developed reason to believe the teen was being sex trafficked. One of the adults was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, identity theft, forgery in the first degree, criminal possession of a forged instrument, prostitution, and unlawful possession of methamphetamine. The other adult was charged with unlawful possession of heroin (a felony) and violation of restraining order.
In September 2021, a 36-year-old sex buyer was arrested on multiple charges including prostitution and luring a minor for sexual conduct. After the BPD received a complaint that the man has been sexually harassing an adult woman, police posed as a 16-year-old girl and contacted him through social media. He sent unsolicited nude pictures and eventually gave the undercover officer directions to his house to engage in sex.
In September, 2022, it was announced that the Bend Police Department had made 28 arrests during a four-month operation aimed at combating human trafficking, prostitution, and luring of minors, with an emphasis on identifying and arresting people who are attempting to meet underage children for sex. Over the course of the project, between May and August, 20 adults were arrested for various crimes associated with attempting to lure and engage in sexual acts with minors. In addition, Bend police also arrested eight people who attempted to patronize adult sex workers. They were cited and released; “patronizing a prostitute” is a Class A misdemeanor in Oregon. Bend police officers had posted ads online, then posed as minors in both text and phone conversations. Over the course of the project, people at more than 200 distinct phone numbers answered officers’ ads. Many of those people, upon learning they were apparently communicating with a minor, immediately cut off communication. However, of the 200-plus people who answered the online ads and learned of a minor child being trafficked for sex, not one subsequently shared that information with law enforcement, police said. The Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office worked with police on the investigations. During the course of the project, several people came forward and identified themselves as victims of sexual abuse at the hands of these suspects. Bend Police asked the public to contact non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911 if they believe is the victim of any of the suspects.
Numerous demand reduction events and conferences have been held in the city. These events educate community members on the role that demand reduction has in eliminating prostitution and sex trafficking.
Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure, Vehicle Seizure:
- https://www.nytimes.com/price-of-a-prostitute-the-client-s-car (1992)
- https://ktvz.com/bend-prostitution-sting-shines-spotlight-on-sex-trafficking/ (2016)
- https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/arrests-made-in-bend-sex-trafficking-investigation/article (2016)
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure, Cameras:
- Prostitution sting leads to nine arrests (2009)
- https://www.bendbulletin.com/court-papers-shed-new-light-on-suspected-prostitute-ring/ (2009)
- https://kpic.com/oregon-man-linked-to-underage-prostitution-ring (2009)
- https://www.bendoregon.gov/Components=News (2012)
- https://kbnd.com/bend-man-caught-in-prostitution-sting (2019)
- https://centraloregondaily.com/bend-man-arrested-in-online-prostitution-sting/ (2019)
- https://ktvz.com/prineville-man-registered-sex-offender-arrested-in-downtown-bend-on-online-luring-charges (2021)
- https://ktvz.com/bend-area-man-charged-with-harassing-woman-online-seeking-to-lure-teen-who-was-officer (2021)
- https://centraloregondaily.com/bend-police-online-human-trafficking-sting/ (2022)
- https://pamplinmedia.com/prineville-man-among-20-arrested-in-human-trafficking-sting (2022)
- https://ktvz.com/bend-police-make-28-arrests-during-4-month-operation-targeting-those-seeking-sex-with-minors/ (2022)
Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:
- http://www.mycentraloregon.com/arrests-in-prostitution-sting-at-bend-motel/ (2016)
- https://ktvz.com/three-charged-in-prostitution-raid-at-ne-bend-motel/ (2016)
- http://www.ktvz.com/three-charged-in-prostitution-raid-at-ne-bend-motel (2016)
- https://www.bendbulletin.com/arrests-made-in-bend-sex-trafficking-investigation (2016)
- https://www.bendbulletin.com/bend-physical-therapist-former-pro-athlete-arrested-on-suspicion-of-soliciting-prostitution/ (2019)
- https://ktvz.com/police-arrest-3-on-prostitution-charges-at-ne-bend-hotel/ (2019)
- https://www.bendsource.com/bend/underage-and-underground (2014)
- https://ktvz.com/bend-prostitution-sting-shines-spotlight-on-sex-trafficking/ (2016)
- https://www.bendsource.com/bend/human-trafficking (2016)
- https://ktvz.com/triumph-child-sex-trafficking-survivor-to-lead-bend-anti-trafficking-group/ (2020)
Background on Child Sexual Exploitation:
- https://ktvz.com/police-arrest-bend-man-on-charges-of-luring-a-minor-for-sex-arranging-to-meet (2021)
Background onLocal Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://www.bendbulletin.com/bend-area-prostitution-sting-nets-9-arrests (2009)
- https://www.seattletimes.com/9-arrested-in-bend-ore-prostitution-sting/ (2009)
- https://www.bendsource.com//bendandaposs-brothels-the-sin-dustry-that-built-our-city/ (2010)
- http://www.ktvz.com/news/human-trafficking-survivor-speaks-in-bend (2017)
- https://www.oregonlive.com/teen_bend_man_forced_her_into_sex_work (2017)
- https://www.mycentraloregon.com/just-in-prostitution-arrests-made-in-bend/ (2019)
- https://kobi5.com/police-rescue-15-year-old-girl-from-possible-sex-trafficking-ring (2019)
- https://kbnd.com/kbnd-news/local-news-feed (2022)
- https://ktvz.com/man-sentenced-8-plus-years-federal-prison-sex-trafficking-woman-to-bend (2022)