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Erath County is a county located in Northeast Texas and has a population of roughly 43,000 residents. The county seat is Stephenville, TX. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented within the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious problems associated with commercial sex in the area include instances of prostitution and sex trafficking operations. For example, in 2017, an investigation into a local massage parlor resulted in the discovery of a prostitution ring and the arrest of an employee. The investigation was initiated after the Stephenville Police Chief received reports from concerned citizens of possible prostitution-related activity occurring at the massage parlor. The employee was arrested and charged with solicitation of prostitution after allegedly offering an undercover officer sex acts in addition to a massage for $50. The offender’s identity, photo, age, location, and charge were released to local news sources. In 2018, a man was charged with the continuous trafficking of persons in Erath County. Prior to the sex trafficker’s charges in Erath County, he was indicted in McLennan County for trafficking of persons and promotion of prostitution, in addition to charges for assaulting the mother of his child. However, in 2019, the offender pleaded guilty in McLennan County to lesser charges of unlawful restraint and continuous violence against the family. In accordance to a plea agreement with the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office, the offender was sentenced to two years in prison and was not required to register as a sex offender. Although the offender was eligible for parole on the McLennan County charges in 2019, the sex trafficker is still facing continuous trafficking of persons charges in Erath County. According to the affidavit, the offender allegedly sex trafficked 15 women in various cities throughout the states of Texas and Louisiana such as, New Orleans, Austin, San Antonio, College Station, Killeen, and Waco. Investigators found at least 164 online advertisements affiliated with a phone number one of the victims provided for the sex trafficker and identified at least four other women that the offender reportedly had trafficked between 2013 and 2017.
Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred within the county. For example, in May of 2018, a 57-year-old Stephenville attorney was arrested after allegedly requesting a female client engage in sex acts with the attorney in order to satisfy her outstanding legal fees. The victim had recorded the attorney’s attempt to use the victim’s outstanding legal fees as a threat to compel the victim to engage in sex acts with the attorney with her phone. After a complete investigation by both the Stephenville Police Department and the Erath County District Attorney’s Office, the attorney was arrested and booked at the Erath County Jail on the charge of criminal attempt of compelling prostitution. The offender’s identity, photo, age, location, and charge were released to local news sources. In December of 2019, rather than face disciplinary action, the offender submitted a letter of resignation to The Texas Supreme Court, which has the same legal impact as disbarment. The convicted attorney is unable to practice law for five years. Upon the conclusion of the five-year term, he is eligible to reapply for his law license.
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- A Stephenville woman was arrested after officers suspected she was operating a prostitution ring at local massage parlor (2017)
- Waco man charged with trafficking woman for several years (2018)
- Plea deal may free defendant in sex trafficking case (2019)
Sex Buyer Arrest, Shaming, Resignation and/or Termination from Employment:
- Local attorney arrested for attempted prostitution (2018)
- Local Attorney Arrested for Compelling Prostitution According to District Attorney’s Office (2018)
- Full Report-Local attorney arrested for compelling prostitution (2018)
- Sex for Legal Services? How a Texas Attorney Lost His Law License (2019)
- Grand jury issues indictments on 2 big cases (2019)