Bloomington, IN

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

Bloomington, Indiana is a city of approximately 85,000 residents, located in Monroe County, approximately an hour southwest of Indianapolis. Sex trafficking of minors, prostitution, and violence committed during commercial sex exchanges are well documented problems in the city, and have been for decades. For example, in January, 2017, a man alleged he was robbed of his wallet by a woman he intended to pay for sex. Police responded to a call to a convenience store in the 1100 block of West 11th Street, where the man admitted he had gone to the convenience store to meet with a prostituted woman he found on Craigslist. The woman got into his car, and the two didn’t travel far before they stopped to argue about money. Then a man walked up to the sex buyer’s car, briefly spoke to the woman, and then the two demanded money. The man punched the sex buyer in the face and the woman took his wallet. The buyer said he tried to fight back, but his attacker pulled out what appeared to be a handgun.

To combat such crimes, local law enforcement agencies have incorporated the use of primary prevention tactics (those focusing on consumer level demand).  For example, Bloomington police have arrested both prostituted women and male sex buyers through the use of web-based reverse stings, opportunistic arrests, and police informants.  The first known reverse sting in the city occurred in 1984.  The names, ages, and professions of the men arrested have been reported by local media outlets.

In March, 2009, an Indiana University Police officer made an arrest during an undercover sting. The officer says he chatted online with a registered sex offender, who agreed to exchange sex for money. The alleged prostitution agreement took place on Craigslist. The man had only been out of prison for a few months when police received an anonymous tip, and set up the undercover sting.  The offender agreed to meet who he thought was his craigslist acquaintance on the IU campus, and was arrested. The same campus police officer arrested the man several years previously, for an offense involving trying to persuade a 16- and 17-year-old to engage in  prostitution.

In December, 2009, a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy who also worked for the Indiana University Police Department was suspended after Bloomington Police arrested him and he was charged for “patronizing a prostitute.” Police said that they were investigating a report of a 19-year-old woman who claimed that a man, who said he was a photographer, offered her five dollars and a pack of cigarettes in exchange for sex. Police worked with the woman to set up a meeting with the “photographer” at a store parking lot. Bloomington Police said the man showed us as arranged, and again asked for “the same deal” — money and cigarettes for a sex. Police served the man a summons to appear in court for the preliminary charge of patronizing a prostitute. He was suspended without pay by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. Both agencies said his employment status depended on the outcome of the case.

Key Partners

  • Bloomington Police Department
  • Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
  • Monroe County District Court
  • Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Indiana University Police Department

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence Committed Against Persons Involved in Prostitution:

State Indiana
Type City
Population 84691
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