Circleville, OH

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

Circleville is a city of about 14,000 residents located in Pickaway County, Ohio, situated about 25 miles south of Columbus. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas, generating complaints to police by residents. For example, in January 2018, officers with the Circleville Police Department responded to a report of suspicious activity and while in route to the scene, officers were advised of a female inside a tractor trailer parked on the lot who was actively exposing herself to the driver. Once on the scene officers contacted the suspects who were actively engaged in sexual activity inside the vehicle. During the investigation, it was discovered that the male suspect had stopped the woman and solicited her for sex in exchange for money. Both suspects were arrested and charged with solicitation and loitering to engage in solicitation.

In December 2021, a woman on probation was arrested for prostitution when the Circleville Police department went undercover and arranged to meet with the prostituted woman. According to the Circleville Police Department, officers had become aware of the woman’s activities and found that she had been engaged in prostitution in multiple cities throughout Ohio. According to reports, officials were concerned that the woman was unaware of the dangers of what she was doing. The woman had been arrested before for prostitution offenses, and in previous arrests had told police that “she was done with this activity.” Upon further investigation, officers discovered that the woman was once again posting ads through an online app. Undercover officers contacted and arranged a meeting time with the woman, and when she arrived Circleville Police were there to meet her and took her into custody. She was charged with solicitation and violation of probation.

Among the efforts to address such problems have been both street-level and web-based reverse stings, focused on apprehending sex buyers in the area. For example, in 2017, Mayor Don McIlroy implemented a standing order that all efforts must be made to make the citizens of Circleville safe from narcotics and related crimes. On this order, a collaboration of law enforcement agencies conducted a 2-day operation. On November 1 and 2 of 2017, the Circleville Police Department conducted Criminal Saturation Enforcement with the assistance of the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office, Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office, the Chillicothe Police Department, the Circleville Municipal Court Probation Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio Investigative Unit, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Homeland Security, and a Victims Advocate from the FBI. During the operation, the Circleville Police Department responded to a total of ninety-three calls for service. Among those arrested were three male sex buyers on charges of soliciting prostitution and loitering to engage in solicitation of prostitution. The offenders’ identities were included in reports by local news sources. In addition, one of the arrested sex buyers was the lead elder for New Life Church. Church leaders said the facts in the case were still being put together so it was up in the air how they would deal with the sex buyer’s unpaid position at the church. In April 2018, the sex buyer was sentenced to a 12-month probation, 40 hours of community service, and monetary fines. The sex buyer is no longer employed or affiliated with the church, according to their website.

In 2021, the Circleville Police Department participated in the largest sex trafficking investigation in the state of Ohio’s history. As a result of the statewide investigation, over 161 arrests were made, and officials also located several missing children. Operation Ohio Knows, coordinated through AG Yost’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC), was a collaborative effort that took place from Sept. 24 to Oct. 1, 2021, to address issues that fuel sex trafficking in Ohio. According to Attorney General David Yost, sex trafficking and prostitution are serious and widespread issues within the state of Ohio. He stated:

“People who traffic other humans are doing it for a really simple reason — money. And if there’s no demand then there will be no market. Reducing the demand means we reduce the number of people who are victimized by human trafficking. We will not rest until no one in Ohio buys or sells human beings.”

The operation included the arrest of 161 sex buyers – three of whom sought to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. During the course of the operation, law enforcement officers also arrested individuals who possessed drugs and/or firearms. Most were charged with engaging in prostitution, a first-degree misdemeanor. A change in state law passed in the spring requires those convicted to undergo human trafficking education, a provision promoted by Attorney General Yost to decrease the demand for prostitution. Among those arrested were a teacher, a professor, a firefighter, a pilot, municipal employees, and a city councilman. Additionally, fifty individuals offering to sell sex – men and women – were arrested. Law enforcement officers interviewed 51 potential human trafficking victims, who were provided services from health care and social services organizations. A simultaneous operation carried out by the U.S. Marshals Service recovered 10 missing children. The Attorney General’s Office also hosts an annual human trafficking summit and provides coordination, education, and outreach on the subject.

Key Sources

Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution:

State Ohio
Type City
Population 14106
Comments are closed.