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Cambridge is a suburb of Boston, with a population of about 110,000. Prostitution, particularly that conducted indoors and facilitated through websites, is well documented in the city. Among the resulting problems are cases in which young children have been brought to commercial sex transactions. For example, in January 2014, the driver of the car that delivered a prostituted woman to an “outcall” was found waiting with a 2-month-old baby in the back seat. The man reportedly told them he was waiting for “his girl.” The man was found to have a suspended license and was told he could not drive. Police filed a 51A report that is required under state law when police suspect that a child is being neglected, abused, or subject to endangerment.
An annual crime report produced in 1999 by the Cambridge Police Department mentions “aggressively targeting” sex buyers over the previous decade with seasonal reverse sting operations. More recent annual reports continue including similar statements. Media reports on prostitution – and police responses to it – contain accounts of complaints by members of the community, which contribute to police deciding when and where to conduct operations.
In April, 2017, seven men were arrested for attempting to purchase sex from an undercover detective at a Cambridge hotel as part of a larger bust that led to a total of 29 arrests across the state, according to the Attorney General’s Office. In a push to reduce demand for commercial sex, the Attorney General’s Office partnered with the Barnstable, Cambridge, Northampton and Springfield Police Departments to locate and arrest sex buyers. Healey’s office and the Massachusetts State Police’s Human Trafficking Unit had been working with these four communities’ police departments since March 2017 as part of a sting operation, the biggest since 2009. The Cambridge reverse sting involved a hotel on Monsignor O’Brien Highway; police would not provide the name of the hotel. In each of the arrests, the female CPD detective lured the men in by claiming she was someone who performed sex in exchange for money. All seven men who were arrested allegedly propositioned the undercover detective. Police would not provide specific details about how the detective lured the men, but said there was an “online component.”
- Cambridge Police Department, Special Investigations Unit
- Reverse Stings:
- Annual Crime Report: Sexual Offenses, Cambridge Police Department, 2000.
- http://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/news/20170501/police-7-busted-for-attempting-to-buy-sex-in-cambridge-29-arrested-across-state (2017)
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Central Square: Cambridge’s ‘Real World'”, Boston Globe, May 15 1994.
- “Shop Owner Arrested on Prostitution Allegations”, Harvard Crimson, October 17 2005.
- “Cops: Internet-Savvy Prostitute Busted in West Cambridge”, Cambridge Chronicle, January 15 2008.
- “Cambridge Police Hotel Sting Nets Prostitutes”, Wicked Local Cambridge, November 16 2009.
- “Man Accused of Operating Cambridge Brothels”, Harvard Crimson, July 20 2011.