Charlottesville, VA

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

Charlottesville is a city of over 46,000 residents, located in northern Virginia’s Albemarle County. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the city for more than 100 years, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are sex trafficking and prostitution related violence. For example, in June 2014, a human trafficker was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to forcing a 17-year-old girl from Honduras to prostitute herself in Charlottesville and nearby Harrisonburg. Law enforcement has also reported at least one incident of the targeted sexual assault of a prostituted woman, when in 1995 a Charlottesville sex buyer was arrested and charged with raping a woman he arranged to meet through a local escort service.

To curtail prostitution in the community, the Charlottesville Police Department has conducted street-level reverse stings since at least 1998, if not earlier. In May of that year, the CPD sent female officers undercover as decoys in the city’s downtown area. Three male sex buyers were arrested after attempting to solicit sex from the officers. Following their arrests, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reported that two of the men had been charged with felony solicitation using a 206-year-old state law against sodomy. At least one of the men “cut a deal with prosecutors and ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.” His name was publicized by members of the local media.

While it is unclear if Charlottesville Police continued to target demand following this early operation, news reports suggest they may not have conducted stings on a regular basis from 1997 to 2006. In November 2006, CPD officers conducted a three-day sting targeting prostituted women. When asked about the operation, a representative for the department commented told news outlets that “they [had] not carried out a sting like this one since 1997.”

Key Partners

  • Charlottesville Police Department

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Sex Trafficking in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Virginia
Type City
Population 45672
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