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Dane County, Wisconsin has a population of approximately 564,000 and its county seat is Madison, which is also the state capital. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the county, 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.
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. Seeing no benefit from decades of attacking prostitution problems by focusing solely on the providers, in 1983 police began addressing the demand side of the market by conducting reverse stings. Through the present, various agencies and organizations in Madison and within the county have targeted the demand for commercial sex in their efforts to reduce the prevalence and impact of prostitution and sex trafficking in the city. A number of tactics have been used, including public education/awareness efforts, reverse stings, identity disclosure, sending “dear john” messages letters to the homes of alleged sex buyers, and a john school program for men arrested for buying sex. Much of the police attention to prostitution is driven by community member complaints.
In September 2017, the Wisconsin’s Attorney General announced the arrest of 25 males in sex trafficking operations conducted across the state. The web-based reverse stings were focused in northern and eastern Wisconsin, and operations focused on people seeking children for paid sex and who solicit prostituted adults. Some of the sex buyers arrested were seeking to sexually abuse 14-and 15-year-old children. Charges include soliciting a prostitute, pandering, soliciting a child for prostitution, attempted second degree sexual assault of a child, child enticement, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, exposing a child to harmful material, and exposing a child to harmful narrations. The Dane County Sheriff’s Office was one of the agencies collaborating in these operations. The Wisconsin reverse sting were part of the National Johns Suppression Initiative. In a news release announcing the results of the operations, the Attorney General said:
“The only reason human trafficking exists is because there is a demand for buying sex. Those creating the demand – the johns who buy victims and the pimps who are exploiting them – are not safe to exploit and coerce people in our state. When I was sworn in as attorney general, I put johns on notice. We are coming for you, and for some – we already got you. DOJ’s Human Trafficking Bureau’s arrests this summer will not be the last.”
- Dane County Sheriff’s Office
- Eagle River Police Department
- Juneau County Sheriff’s Office
- Kohler Police Department
- McFarland Police Department
- Monona Police Department
- Rock County District Attorney
- Sheboygan County District Attorney
- Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office
- Sheboygan Falls Police Department
- Sturgeon Bay Police Department
Web Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.wbay.com/25-arrested-in-Wisconsin-sex-trafficking-stings (2017)
- https://wausaupilotandreview.com/ag-25-arrested-in-human-trafficking-sting/ (2017)
- https://www.channel3000.com/dozens-arrested-in-sex-predator-sting-in-northern-eastern-wisconsin (2017)
- https://fox6now.com/were-coming-for-you-25-arrested-in-doj-stings-related-to-sex-trafficking/ (2017)
- https://www.tmj4.com/photos-25-arrested-in-wisconsin-sex-trafficking-sting (2017)
- http://www.starjournalnow.com/wisconsin-attorney-general-announces-sex-trafficking-arrests/ (2017)
- https://madison.com/crime-and-courts/prostitution-sting-ex-doc-sex-assault-lead-list-of-notable (2019)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Young Girls, 15-20, Said Forced into Prostitution in Madison Sauna Bath,” Minneapolis Star-News, January 18 1972.
- “Madison Prostitute Tells Court of Beating,” Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, June 6 1972.
- “2 Charged with Turning Teens into Prostitutes,” Madison Capital Times, March 20 1991.
- “Former Lawmaker, 7 Others Charged in Sex with Girl, 14,” Wisconsin State Journal, March 23 1991.
- “13th Man Faces Teen Sex Count, Girls, 14, Involved in Monthlong Spree,” Wisconsin State Journal, March 26 1991.
- “Teens Detail Paid Sex Encounters, Two Runaways, 14, Testify about Paid Sex Encounters,” Madison Capital Times, March 29 1991.
- “Child Prostitution Ring Suspect Found in Illinois,” Madison Capital Times, April 24 1991.
- “5 Men Arrested in Rape of Girl, 15,” Wisconsin State Journal, June 16 1991.
- “Woman Convicted of Sexual Assault to Minor,” Wisconsin State Journal, October 22 1991.
- “Prostitution Backer Gets 12 Years,” Wisconsin State Journal, January 9 1992.
- “Man Gets Jail in Teen Prostitution Case,” Madison Capital Times, January 23 1992.
- “Man Guilty of Sex Assault,” Madison Capital Times, February 24 1992.
- “Mother Charged in Child Sex Case,” Wisconsin State Journal, April 10 1992.
- “Innocent Plea in Prostitution Case,” Wisconsin State Journal, May 27 1992.
- “2 Charged in Sex for Coke Case,” Madison Capital Times, October 7 1992.
- “Madison Man Charged with Child Enticement,” Wisconsin State Journal, February 28 1996.
- “Man, 27, Charged with Trying to Solicit Boy for Prostitution,” Wisconsin State Journal, September 20 1996.
- “Girl, 17, Arrested in Sex Case,” Madison Capital Times, August 26 1997.
- “Alleged Partner Charged in Teen Prostitution Case,” Wisconsin State Journal, August 29 1997.
- “Men to Be Tried for Allegedly Hiring Juvenile for Sex Acts,” Wisconsin State Journal, October 14 1997.
- “Man Caught in Escort Sting Is Convicted,” Wisconsin State Journal, March 17 1998.
- “Madison Man Gets 10 Months for Soliciting Child for Sex,” Wisconsin State Journal, May 20 1998.
- “‘Stooge’ Sentenced in Teenage Sex Ring,” Madison Capital Times, May 20 1998.
- “Man Ordered to Stand Trial on Child-Prostitution Charge,” Wisconsin State Journal, April 3 1999.
- “Man Gets Eight Years in Prostitution Ruling,” Wisconsin State Journal, October 14 1999.
- “Streetwise in Madison: Adults Often Take Advantage of Homeless Teens and Runaways”, Madison Isthmus, February 27 2009.
- “Police Seeking Man in Child Prostitution Case,” Wisconsin State Journal, June 27 2009.
- “‘Country Cane’ Charged with Child Trafficking,” Wisconsin State Journal, June 28 2009.
- “Madison Woman Convicted of Pimping/Pandering and Multiple Other Crimes,” States News Service, October 18 2012.
- “Madison Woman Convicted of Coercing Learning-Disabled Teen into Prostitution”, Wisconsin State-Journal, October 19 2012.
- “Dane Co. Officials Raise Awareness About Sex Trafficking”, ABC/WKOW-TV 27, January 10 2013.
- “Milwaukee Man Charged with Sex-Trafficking a Minor from Wisconsin to Illinois to Engage in Prostitution,” States News Service, September 17 2013.
- “Man Sentenced for Offering Teen Money for Sex,” Wisconsin State Journal, November 28 2013.
- https://www.wisconsingazette.com/wisconsin-lawmakers-combat-state-s-growing-human-trafficking-problem (2014)
- “Madison Man Convicted of Human Trafficking, Supplying Heroin to Underage Victims,” States News Service, January 30 2015.
- “Lodi Man Indicted on Sex Trafficking Crimes,” Wisconsin State Journal, January 20 2016.
- https://disparitydialogue.journalism.wisc.edu/its-sex-trafficking-not-prostitution-and-its-happening-here/ (2018)
- https://www.channel3000.com/madison-man-sentenced-to-25-years-for-sex-trafficking (2019)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Increase in Prostitution a Problem for Madison,” Milwaukee Sentinel, June 17 1980.
- “Focus Is on Arrest of Men,” Milwaukee Sentinel, December 7 1981.
- “Pruning Roots of Prostitution,” Milwaukee Journal, August 18 1989.
- “Police Clean up Downtown; Prostitution Serious Problem in 1970s, ’80s,” Wisconsin State Journal, April 17 1995.
- “Prostitution on the Wane,” Madison Capital Times, October 13 1995.
- “Prostitution Reports Double This Year in City,” Madison Capital Times, November 2 1999.
- “South Side Arrests Part of Crackdown on Drugs, Prostitution,” Wisconsin State Journal, May 7 2001.
- “Madison Has Jurisdiction to Prosecute Prostitution Advertisements Online,” Wisconsin State Journal, April 22 2010.
- “Sex for Sale,” Madison Isthmus, August 6 2010.
- “Police Search Massage Parlor Officials Investigating Possible Prostitution at Madison Business,” Wisconsin State Journal, October 21 2010.
- “When Sex Ruled the Square,” Madison Isthmus, November 1 2013.
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Man Pleads No Contest to Rape, Beating Charges,” Madison Capital Times, August 21 1989.
- “Prostitution Suspect Rams Officer with Car,” Madison Capital Times, June 26 1992.
- “Officers Hurt in Prostitution Arrests,” Wisconsin State Journal, June 27 1992.
- “Man Who Fled Police Gets New Trial,” Madison Capital Times, January 13 1995.
- “Trial in Rape Case Begins, Man Also Accused of Beating Woman,” Madison Capital Times, October 31 2001.
- “Rape/Beating Trial Produces Starkly Differing Accounts,” Madison Capital Times, November 1 2001.
- “Close Encounter Ends in Road Rage, Alleged Hooker Fled with Cash,” Madison Capital Times, August 2 2007.
- “Man Accused of Badger Rd. Rape, Could Get Life Sentence,” Madison Capital Times, August 21 2007.
- “Prostitutes and Johns Are on Cops’ Radar, Explosion of Illegal Activity along One Section of Badger Road Prompts a Sting Operation,” Wisconsin State Journal, December 2 2007.