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Cedar Rapids is a city of approximately 126,000 residents, located in Linn County in eastern Iowa. Federal and local law enforcement have fought pervasive sex trafficking and prostitution in the area for decades. Included in their array of tactics have been those addressing consumer-level demand for prostitution. The first known instance of reverse stings in the city occurred in 1994. A three-week crackdown focusing on “customers” yielded 52 john arrests. Cedar Rapids police have periodically conducted both street level and web based reverse stings, averaging about 1-2 operations each year since 2007. In 2012, a three day web-based operation netted 37 arrests occurring in local hotels. The names, ages, and hometowns of arrested sex buyers have been reported to the public. The police also noted using surveillance cameras in pursuit of demand reduction efforts.
In May, 2019, Cedar Rapids announced it was assessing whether a “john school” would be a good fit in the community. Interest in that approach surfaced as Cedar Rapids considered adopting an ordinance intended to crack down on illegal massage businesses and help women who may be caught up in the business because of human trafficking. The concept was to provide sex buyers education about the negative effects of prostitution and sex trafficking in hopes they will be deterred after learning the consequences of their behavior. In exchange, the men would not be saddled with criminal charges. The city’s nuisance property abatement program manager was tasked with assessing the program, and concluded that the program would be best done pre-arrest as opposed to post-arrest, which then makes it a program run by the city of Cedar Rapids. They also considered a one or two day educational program similar to programs for those who’ve received a drunken driving charge, and would be geared to first-time offenders and not egregious cases. It was unclear whether the Linn County Attorney’s Office supported the program, but officials were exploring it.
Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred within the county. For example, in October, 2011, a Cedar Rapids minister who was arrested in a prostitution sting in Marion resigned. The minister was among nine men arrested after police said they responded to an online advertisement and offered money to an undercover female officer posing as a prostituted woman. The man had been the senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church. He was not in church the day after his arrest. Members were later told he resigned for personal reasons.
National Assessment Survey
- “Prostitution Arrest at C.R. Puzzles Former Senator”, Spencer Daily Reporter, October 14 1981.
- “State Official Vows to Clear Name on Prostitution Charge”, Spencer Daily Report, October 15 1981.
- “Prostitution Sting Results in 52 Charges”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 5 1994.
- “Sting Nabs Former Teacher”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 6 1994.
- “51 Convictions for Prostitution”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 20 1995.
- “6 Nabbed for Soliciting”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 29 1996.
- “Deputy Nabbed in Prostitution Sting Quit the Linn Sheriff’s Department”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, September 9 1996.
- “Police Sting Nets 3 Men on Prostitution Charges”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, August 26 2004.
- “2 Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting in C.R.”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, September 16 2004.
- “Cedar Rapids Police Target Prostitutes’ Customers in Weekend Sting”, ABC/KCRG-TV 9, November 8 2010.
- Web Stings:
- “CRPD Insists Recent Prostitution Stings Are Not Part of Larger Problem”, ABC/KCRG-TV 9, February 23 2010.
- “More Than 30 People Arrested Following Prostitution Sting in Linn County”, ABC/KCRG-TV 9, June 22 2012.
- https://elev8.hellobeautiful.com/500355/pastor-arrested-for-involvement-in-prostitution-ring/ (2019)
- John School:
- https://www.thegazette.com/john-school-cedar-rapids-human-trafficking-prostitution (2019)
Loss of Employment, Shaming:
- https://www.southeastiowaunion.com/pastors-arrest-in-prostitution-sting/ (2011)
- https://www.thegazette.com/news/cedar-rapids-pastor-among-nine-men-charged-in-prostitution-sting/ (2011)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “CR Factions Disagree on Prostitution Extent”, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, May 6 1984.
- “Prostitution Investigation Gets Results”, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, June 1 1984.
- “No Teen Sex Ring in Cedar Rapids”, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, June 26 1984.
- “Cedar Rapids Police Deny Teen Sex Ring”, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, April 7 1985.
- “C.R. Man’s Sex Abuse, Prostitution Trial Set”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 9 2001.
- “Cedar Rapids Police Charge Man with Pornography, Prostitution”, Radio Iowa, April 6 2010.
- “Bipartisan Effort to Combat Human Trafficking of Underage Girls”, Radio Iowa, April 4 2012.
- “Milwaukee Pimp Gets 20 Years for Trafficking 2 Girls,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 17 2015.
- https://www.kcrg.com/2021/04/01/addressing-human-trafficking-in-eastern-iowa/ (2021)
- https://www.kcrg.com/2021/09/28/manchester-man-convicted-sex-trafficking-other-crimes/ (2021)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Vice Squad Finds Prostitutes Carry Condoms in Their Purses”, Modesto Bee, November 21 1987.
- “Seizure of Maclin’s Car Alters Prostitution Fight”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 17 1992.
- “Cedar Rapids: 2 Arrested for Prostitution”, Cedar Rapids Gazete, April 3 1993.
- “Prostitution Sting Succeeds”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 10 1993.
- “Expert: Prostitution Leads to Other Crimes”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 5 1994.
- “Accused Try to Keep Names Out of Media”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 6 1994.
- “Gazette to Go to Top Court”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 7 1994.
- “Woman: Escort Service Is Ministry, Not Prostitution”, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, October 9 1994.
- “East Iowa Journal”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, January 10 1997.
- “6 Women Charged in Prostitution Sting”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, October 19 2002.
- “C.R. Police Arrest 2 in Prostitution Sting”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, October 22 2003.
- “C.R., I.C. Make Few Prostitution Arrests”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 18 2003.
- “Woman Accused of Prostitution in C.R.”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 9 2005.
- “Minor Arrested in C.R. Prostitution Sting”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 4 2006.
- “Pregnant Woman Arrested in ‘Banner Year for Prostitution”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, August 5 2006.
- “C.R. Police Make First Prostitution Arrest of Year”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 14 2007.
- “Cedar Rapids Police Make Drug, Prostitution Arrests”, ABC/KCRG-TV 9, April 17 2008.
- “Police Arrest 4 Women in C.R. Prostitution Investigation”, Cedar Rapids Gazette, August 14 2008.
- “Cedar Rapids Cops Go Undercover at Happy Hour Health Spa”, Radio Iowa, April 8 2010.
- “Two Women Arrested for Prostitution in Cedar Rapids”, ABC/KCRG-TV 9, August 30 2010.
- “Woman Arrested for Prostitution in Cedar Rapids”, ABC/KCRG-TV 9, April 12 2012.
- https://www.thegazette.com/news/two-arrested-in-prostitution-sting (2021)