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Champaign County, Illinois has approximately 210,000 residents, and is the 10th-most populous county in Illinois. The twin cities of Urbana and Champaign are the only cities in the county and they abut the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in May 2018, a Springfield man was charged by federal law enforcement with sex trafficking in Champaign County. He was arrested by Urbana police and was later investigated for federal charges, based on the man’s violation of the commercial sex trafficking act. The defendant was alleged to have arranged for prostituted women to have paid sex and for him to collect the money, and transport them to and from hotels in Champaign and Urbana between September and December 2017. Urbana detectives matched 15 phone numbers involved in text messages to several prostitution ads on a classified ad website known for selling sex. Investigators also located a woman in the Champaign County Jail who began working for the defendant to make money to support her heroin habit. The man would collect any money the sex buyers left, calling it payment for the room and the drugs he was providing her, and if she refused, he hit, berated, and strangled her, and also fed her narcotics to keep her under his control. That woman identified two others who were drug addicts similarly indebted, who would “service as many as 10 to 15 clients per night,” while she had sex with three per night. The trafficked sexual abuse took place at various hotels around the Champaign area. In January, 2021, the U.S. District court sentenced a Central Illinois man to multiple life prison terms for trafficking young women for sexual abuse. The man ran his prostitution/trafficking enterprise from a motel in Champaign where he lived, and used women he recruited from Champaign, Sangamon, and Peoria counties.
To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking. For example, in June 2018, an Illinois State Police trooper was accused of trying to hire a prostituted woman while on duty during two separate occasions, and was charged with two counts of official misconduct. The investigation revealed the suspect had contacted a person he believed to be prostituting that had been advertised on Backpage via text and offered that person money in exchange for sex. Both counts are “Class 3” felonies punishable by two to five years in prison.
- Champaign County Sheriff’s Office
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
- http://foxillinois.com/isp-trooper-charged-with-solicitation-of-prostitution-while-on-duty (2018)
- https://jg-tc.com/news/local/state-trooper-from-charleston-admits-soliciting-prostitute/ (2018)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- http://www.wandtv.com/four-men-arrested-in-prostitution-sting (2009)
- http://www.wandtv.com/police-man-sexually-assaulted-woman-after-demanding-prostitution (2018)
- http://www.news-gazette.com/two-champaign-accused-aiding-alleged-sex-trafficking-ring.html (2018)
- http://www.news-gazette.com/springfield-man-charged-with-sex-trafficking-champaign-county.html (2018)
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdil/pr/central-illinois-sex-trafficker-sentenced-life-prison (2021)