Denver has longstanding and substantial problems associated with prostitution and child sex trafficking, according to numerous sources. To combat consumer demand driving both of these crime types, Denver has employed reverse stings, john schools, systematic shaming efforts (John TV and media releases), geographic restraining orders, community service requirements, and auto seizures. A recent example of a reverse sting in the city is a web-based operation conducted in December 2013. Six men were arrested and their identities disclosed to the media. Denver police hope publicity of prostitution stings will help curtail the crime that surges during big events in the city, like the National Western Stock Show. In a news report following the incident, Sgt. Dennis Bedenbender, supervisor of DPD’s vice unit, is quoted as saying, “girls get raped during these operations so we are trying to go after the johns so they understand we are out here looking for them.”
Denver’s First John School
Denver was one of the “early adopters” of the john school program approach to combating demand for commercial sex. A program offered by a private therapist, Michael Holtby, was used by the City Attorney’s Office beginning in 1999, and through 2011 operated at no direct cost to taxpayers and processed more than 500 arrested johns. It was structured as a counseling program, rather than a one-day educational effort. The program was cancelled in 2011.
Denver’s Second John School
A second john school program was reportedly launched in 2009, and was structured as a one-day educational class. During interviews conducted for the National Assessment, it was reported that the second john school program was launched because some within the city attorney’s model wanted a program more similar to the FOPP in San Francisco. For approximately two years, the programs ran concurrently, with some City Attorney staff referring arrestees to the counseling program, and others directing arrestees to the classroom program. Since 2011, the City & County of Denver are currently using the FOPP-styled john school every other month, attended by about a dozen men each session. It is run by Karina Rodriguez, a social worker with the organization, Better Communities Colorado.
- Denver Police Department
- Denver City Attorney’s Office
- Michael Holtby (counselor in private practice, who operated the john school from 1999-2011)
- National Assessment Survey and Interviews
- John Schools:
- Denver Diversion Program
- Denver Application for Adult Diversion
- Denver Alternative Resolution Referral 2009
- Denver Adult Diversion terms and conditions
- Denver John School Reflection Report
- “Prostitutes’ Clients Under Scrutiny in Colorado”, CBS/KCNC-TV 4, March 21 2011.
- Article by therapist operating a john school in Denver, 1999-2011:
- Holtby, M. (2012). Johns Schools and Why Men Pay For Sex.
- Reverse Stings:
- “No Weather to Harsh for Prostitutes’ Clientele”, Rocky Mountain News, June 5 1994.
- “Three Cities Turn Colfax into Street of Many Stings”, Rocky Mountain News, May 17 1995.
- “Denver Digest”, Denver Post, January 17 1996.
- “Denver Man, 31, Arrested in Underage Prostitution Sting”, Rocky Mountain News, February 27 1996.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Park Worker”, Rocky Mountain News, July 10 1999.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 25 Men”, Rocky Mountain News, February 14 2000.
- “Officers Arrest 28 in Prostitution Sting”, Rocky Mountain News, October 16 2000.
- “Stings Fail to Curb E. Colfax Vice; Some Want to Publicize Johns Photos”, Denver Post, June 24 2002.
- “Prostitution in Denver a Two-Way Street”, Rocky Mountain News, March 19 2005.
- “Targeting Prostitutes’ Clients a Tricky Business”, Rocky Mountain News, March 19 2005.
- “Hard Work, Cooperation Bearing Fruit in a Rejuvenated East Colfax”, Rocky Mountain News, May 27 2006.
- “Denver Deputy Snared in Hooker Sting Appeals Firing”, Rocky Mountain News, September 3 2008.
- “Prostitution Charges Against School Tennis Coach Dismissed”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, August 25 2011.
- “John Stings: How Might the 29 People Arrested This Week Be Punished?”, Denver Westword, May 25 2012.
- https://www.westword.com/news/photos-johns-photos-from-denver-cops-reverse-prostitution-stings (2012)
- “The Prostitutes Aren’t the Problem: Targeting the Johns”, Daily Beast, May 22 2013.
- Web Stings:
- Auto Seizure:
- Vehicle Impound: Frequently Asked Questions, Denver Sheriff Department.
- “Denver Man Cleared in Prostitution Sting; Car Still Impounded”, CW/KWGH-TV 2, December 9 2010.
- “City Dials Up ‘Johns TV’ to Combat Prostitution”, Rocky Mountain News, July 2 2002.
- “Denver Aims to Curb Prostitution with TV Show”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, July 3 2002.
- “Denver Taking Page from ‘Scarlet Letter’; City Posting Prostitutes, Johns on Web Site”, Colorado Springs Gazette, July 5 2002.
- “Denver ‘Johns’ to Debut on TV”, Rocky Mountain News, July 22 2002.
- “‘Johns TV’ Garners Praise”, Rocky Mountain News, July 26 2002.
- “Sex and the City of Denver Gets ‘Johns’ on TV”, Norwalk Hour, July 29 2002.
- “Behind the Voice of ‘Johns TV'”, Rocky Mountain News, August 27 2002.
- “Photos: Johns Photos from Denver Cops’ Reverse Prostitution Stings”, Denver Westword, May 31 2012.
- SOAP Orders:
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Denver Police Crackdown on Prostitution Reveals Women Held at Asian Massage Parlors Until They Repay Debts for Being Smuggled into the U.S.”, Denver Post, October 23 2005.
- “Police: Prostitution Ring Employed Children, 50 Women”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, August 11 2008.
- “Sweep Nets 3 Teen Prostitutes, 2 Pimps in Metro Denver”, Rocky Mountain News, February 23 2009.
- “Police: Suspected Pimp Arrested in Child Prostitution Sting”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, July 1 2009.
- “Police, Feds Target Child Prostitution with Operation”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, October 26 2009.
- “Mark Mathias Prostitution Case: Denver Mother Sold Sex with Her Own Daughter”, Huffington Post, March 18 2010.
- “4 Indicted on Charges of Forcing Teen into Prostitution”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, August 18 2010.
- “Child Prostitution, Trafficking Focus of Federal Charges”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, October 1 2010.
- “14 Indicted in Child Prostitution, Human-Trafficking Ring”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, January 30 2012.
- “Three Gang Members, Nine Others Arrested in Connection with Prostitution of Underage Girls”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, December 10 2012.
- “Larimer County Nonprofit Hopes to Rescue Child Prostitutes”, Coloradoan, February 18 2013.
- “105 Kids Rescued from Prostitution Rings; 159 Arrested”, USA Today, July 29 2013.
- “Couple Accused of Running Prostitution Business Out of Massage Parlor”, CW/KWGN-TV 2, February 14 2014.
- “Denver DA Charges Couple with Multiple Sex Crimes, Human Trafficking”, Denver Post, February 14 2014.
- “Man Gets Four Years in Prison for Sex Trafficking”, Carbondale Southern, March 12 2014.
- “Pair Accused of Forcing Woman into Prostitution”, CBS/KKTV-TV 11, June 29 2014.
- “Court Documents Outline Jeffco Crime Spree, Sex Trafficking Case”, Denver Post, August 24 2014.
- “Sex Trafficking Lures Increasing in Denver, Officials Say”, CBS/KCNC-TV 4, September 1 2014.
- “Child Trafficking Suspects Accused of Using Death Threats, Violence to Force Girls into Prostitution,” ABC/KMGH-TV 7, February 4 2015.
- “Colorado Grand Jury Indicts 7 in Denver, Interstate Child Sex Trafficking Ring,” Denver Post, January 6 2016.
- “89 Rescued from Trafficking in Denver in 2015,” NBC/KUSA-TV 9, February 25 2016.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Council Aims at Customers of Prostitutes; Denver Proposal Would Subject Johns to the Same Medical Exams Hookers Now Face”, Rocky Mountain News, November 7 1994.
- “Denver Woman Accused of Knowingly Spreading HIV”, FOX News, December 2 2011.
- “Who Pays? An Assessment of Prostitution Arrests in the City and County of Denver”, Report from the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking, February 2012.
- “Prostitution in Denver: Women Busted More Than Men, Punished More Harshly”, Denver Westword, May 3 2012.
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Stabbing Victim Struck, Killed as She Runs onto Freeway”, Colorado Springs Gazette, April 8 1992.