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Eau Claire is a county of about 106,000 residents located in western Wisconsin, near Minneapolis. Child sex trafficking and prostitution have been documented within the county. For example, in April, 2021, a total of 34 charges were filed against two individuals arrested in Eau Claire after they tried to sell a child under the age of 13 for paid sexual abuse.
Among the tactics used to address the wide range of problems stemming from the commercial sex market are those targeting consumer-level demand. For example, in May 2014, five men were arrested in a sting operation targeting those seeking to buy access to sexually abuse minors. The men believed they would be paying to sexually abuse a 15-year-old boy, and were charged with felony counts including attempted child enticement, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, and attempted sexual assault of a child younger than 16. The two-day operation resulting in the arrests was conducted in September of 2013, when police placed ads on various Internet sites, and meetings were arranged in places such as motels and parking lots. Four of the arrests were in Eau Claire County, and a fifth occurred in Dunn County. The sting was conducted by Eau Claire County sheriff’s deputies, Eau Claire police and other law enforcement agencies. Police responses have included other kinds of operations to arrest sex buyers. In April 2014, local authorities arrested 11 men who responded to an online prostitution ad for an adult woman. The Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office said the success of that operation led to the decision to conduct stings targeted specifically at people seeking to sexually abuse minors.
In February, 2018, a former Menomonie school board president was arrested in a web-based reverse sting and charged with soliciting prostitution in Eau Claire County court. He was charged with a single criminal misdemeanor count of prostitution, and the judge deferred a guilty plea for 12 months contingent upon several conditions: the offender must not commit any new crimes, avoiding using Backpage.com, complete an education program for those arrested for buying sex known as “John School,” perform 40 hours of community service, and pay a $250 fee.
- Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office
- Eau Claire Police Department
- Eau Claire County Court
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:
- https://www.leadertelegram.com/police-man-sex-trafficked-two-women-in-eau-claire (2023)
- https://www.wqow.com/eau_claire/options-available-to-regency-inn-residents-that-may-lose-housing (2023)