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Chelan County is a county in the U.S. state of Washington, of approximately 80,000 residents. The county seat and largest city is Wenatchee, WA. Prostitution is documented to have occurred in the county since the 1800s, and efforts to combat prostitution in the city date back to the 1930s. More recently, there have been cases of sex trafficking, and among the more serious crimes associated with the county’s commercial sex market have been the commercial sexual exploitation of children. For example, in 2018, man who allegedly held two prostituted women against their will at a local hotel in Wenatchee was arrested. Wenatchee police said that a woman came into the police department and told officers that she and her cousin had been assaulted, robbed, and were imprisoned overnight in the hotel room. The two cousins had managed to escape and told police that they were working as prostituted people in the hotel room when the suspect came into the room and attacked both of them. The suspect then allegedly took one of the women’s wallet and money, refused to allow them to leave the room, and threatened to kill them if they tried to escape or contact police. The suspect told the women that they now “work for him.” Officers sent to locate the suspect spotted him in his car as he was entering the hotel parking lot and arrested him without incident. He was charged with robbery in the first degree, two counts of unlawful imprisonment, two counts of threats to kill, assault in the fourth degree, violation of a domestic violence no contact order, assault in the second degree and driving while his license was suspended in the third degree.
To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office has conducted at least one web-based reverse sting operation. In 2017, twenty men responded to ads or social media invitations to have sex with a prostitute, and were arrested by the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office deputies during a sting operation. Three of the men arrived to the predetermined location to knowingly sexually exploit a minor in exchange for money. They were arrested and booked into the Chelan County Regional Justice Center for communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. The other 17 male sex buyers were cited for soliciting prostitution and were released. The names and ages of the three men charged with felony communicating with a minor for immoral purposes were reported in news report.
Sex buyers have also been arrested as the result of residential reports to local law enforcement. For example, in 2019, Chelan County Sheriff’s deputies received a call from a 21-year-old woman claiming to have been kicked out of a man’s home after an argument, leaving her with no vehicle four miles from Manson and nine miles from Chelan. When police arrived at the suspect’s home, he allegedly answered the door fully nude, another woman was also present in the home when deputies entered. The 62-year-old wealth-advice executive reportedly told police that he had met one of the women online a few weeks ago and the other in Seattle, WA, and invited both to stay in the house with him. One of the women told deputies the suspect had promised her $800 to join him for one night, and the other said she had been paid “an allowance in exchange for having sex with [the suspect].” The sex buyer told police that he had given the 21-year-old woman $300 to “take an Uber to Seattle” before she left the house. According to deputies, the sex buyer had an estimated $1,200 cash in his travel pack. The alleged sex buyer was cited and released with patronizing prostitution. Neither of the women were arrested and police escorted one of the women to Chelan so she could await transport home to Seattle. Later that same year, the sex buyer pleaded guilty to patronizing a prostitute and was sentenced to serve a two-year deferred sentence, meaning he was not prosecuted for the charge if he committed no further crimes during that period. The sex buyer, the president and CEO of a wealth management firm with $280 million in assets, was also required to pay almost $1,900 in fees and fines levied by Chelan County District Court Judge.
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.wenatcheeworld.com/20-men-arrested-in-prostitute-sting/ (2017)
- https://www.heraldnet.com/police-make-20-sex-offense-arrests-in-wenatchee/ (2017)
- https://www.wenatcheeworld.com/three-charged-with-felonies-after-wenatchee-prostitution-sting/ (2017)
- https://www.kpq.com/20-arrests-human-trafficking-investigation/ (2017)
- https://www.ifiberone.com/defendant-in-federal-sex-sting-pleads-to-non-sex-charge/ (2018)
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.ifiberone.com/former-financial-manager-charged-after-manson-dispute-with-two-sex-workers/ (2019)
- https://www.ifiberone.com/seattle-money-manager-pleads-guilty-to-hiring-a-prostitute-after-manson-arrest/ (2019)
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- “Time Was: In 1907, Wenatchee Feared Prostitutes Would Taint Genes,” Wenatchee World, May 23 1993.
- “Woman Arrested in Craigslist Prostitution Sting,” Wenatchee World, June 11 2009.
- https://www.justice.gov/wenatchee-man-sentenced-ten-years-federal-prison-possession-child-pornography (2014)
- http://www.kptv.com/you-work-for-me-now-prostitutes-say-man-threatened-to-kill-them-at-wenatchee-hotel (2018)
- http://www.ifiberone.com/frantic-prostitute-alerts-wenatchee-police-about-her-attacker-two-arrested (2018)
- https://www.wenatcheeworld.com/pimp-arrested-after-hotel-room-attack-robbery/ (2018)
- https://www.heraldnet.com/tv-series-to-explore-discredited-wenatchee-child-sex-scandal/ (2021)
- https://www.kxly.com/news/chelan-county-sheriffs-office-searching-for-human-trafficking-suspects/ (2023)
- https://www.ncwlife.com/news/suspects-in-massage-parlor-sex-enterprise-still-sought-by-police/ (2023)
- https://www.fox41yakima.com/columbia-river-drug-task-force-contact-human-trafficking-victims/ (2023)