Brattleboro, VT

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

Brattleboro is a town of about 12,000 residents in Windham County, Vermont.  It is located in the southeastern part of the state, and is the most populous municipality abutting Vermont’s eastern border with New Hampshire.  Prostitution and sex trafficking are known to have occurred in the city, particularly in massage-parlors and residences, as well as in surrounding areas and throughout the state. In September, 1983, local officials announced that they had broken a “prostitution ring run by children.” While local and state officials emphasized that the matter was one of child sexual abuse, not prostitution, the police at the time said in court affidavits that the children accepted money, some apparently repeatedly, for sexual acts. Two Brattleboro men faced felony charges stemming from the cases, including counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child, and sexual assault. The affidavits for the case charged that the children had sexual contact with and were paid to be sexually abused by the two men over a period of months. At least 10 children were victimized in this case. Other local prostitution cases have included drugs, weapons offenses, violence, and witness intimidation.

In a more recent case, a woman from a Brattleboro spa was arrested in August, 2022 and charged with “appropriating/levying upon the earnings of prostitutes.” The arrest came after a multi-agency investigation into human trafficking and other illegal activity at the spa. A Vermont State Police Detective wrote that there were:

“…no signs that the female employees ever leave the business.  There have been no signs of the females coming or going from the business during both in-person and video surveillance. It is believed that the females who work inside the business also live and sleep inside the building and that they do not have the freedom to come and go as they please.”

Beginning in April, 2022, local, state and federal law enforcement conducted video surveillance of the spa on Putney Road in Brattleboro. The surveillance “yielded a high number of males entering and exiting the business” and more than 20 males were identified and admitted to paying for sex acts within the spa. The men came from all over the tri-state region, including Northampton, Winchendon and Belchertown, Mass., Keene, Swanzey and Winchester, N.H., and in Vermont, Brattleboro and Dummerston. Two of them came from as far away as Schuylerville, N.Y., and Clearwater, Florida. Sex buyers would enter the business, either by walk-in or appointment, and they would be greeted by an older woman who would open the door and collect $80 for a massage. Following the massage, they would be offered the option of receiving sex acts for an additional fee. The affidavit includes 10 pages of posts to a website where men posted and rated their experiences at the spa. The affidavit also noted that the spa was operated by the son of a woman who was arrested in 2015 in Mobile, Alabama, for running a similar illegal operation. The identities of the alleged sex buyers named in the affidavits were included in news reports, but at the time of the initial reports, the Vermont State Police had not issued a press release nor indicated whether any of the men identified during the investigation would be charged as a result of their activities. The investigation was conducted by the Vermont State Police, Homeland Security Investigations, the Brattleboro Police Department and the Vermont Office of Professional Regulation.

Since 2013, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Vermont Attorney General’s Office had worked to facilitate a collaborative effort to eliminate and prevent the trafficking of persons within the State, and also pursue the links between opioids and other drugs to human trafficking. In June, 2018 it was announced that the Vermont Human Trafficking Task Force (VT HTTF) would formally pursue the state’s multidisciplinary approach to combating human trafficking affecting the State of Vermont.

While Brattleboro is not known to have conducted reverse sting operations to proactively identify and sanction sex buyers, there have been arrests made in response to investigations of suspicious activity or other crimes, and in response to allegations of offenses against real victims.  For example, in June, 2020, Vermont State Police arrested an officer with the Vermont Department of Corrections who was accused of paying for sex with a woman he was supervising. The woman reported to Brattleboro Probation and Parole that her supervisor had paid her for oral sex several times, starting in January, 2020. The case was initially referred to police in Brattleboro. State police became involved when investigators learned of incidents that took place outside of the city, in Newfane. The man was arrested on charges of sexual exploitation of an inmate and prostitution. He was ordered jailed for lack of $5,000 bail pending his arraignment, and was also placed on administrative leave.

In March, 2021, officers of the Brattleboro Police Department responded to a business on Putney Road for a complaint about suspicious activity. Officers made contact with a subject and an initial investigation revealed that he had been operating a motor vehicle and was under the influence of alcohol. It was also discovered that the man had paid a female cash with intent of receiving prostitution “services.” The man was placed under arrest and transported to the Brattleboro Police Department where he was processed, issued a citation and released. He was scheduled to appear in Windham County Superior Court to answer to the charges.

In July, 2021, Brattleboro Police responded to a motel on Putney Rd. for a reported disturbance.  The investigation revealed that a man propositioned and attempted to pay a woman for sex, instigating an argument.  The man was issued a citation for “Soliciting Prostitution” and ordered to appear at Windham County Superior Court to answer his charge.

Key Partners

  • Brattleboro Police Department
  • Brattleboro Probation and Parole
  • Windham County Superior Court
  • Vermont State Police

Key Sources

Arrest of Sex Buyers, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:

State Decriminalization of Prostitution:

State Vermont
Type City
Population 12046
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