Estes Park, CO
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Estes Park is a city of roughly 6,400 residents, situated about 65 miles north of Denver, CO and is located in Larimer County, CO. For at least two decades, instances of prostitution, particularly those arranged online and conducted within city hotels and adult-oriented businesses, have been reported throughout the county. Several cases of solicitation, commercial sexual exploitation, and child sex trafficking have also been documented.
In efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex, the Estes Park Police Department, often in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, has been known to conduct reverse sting operations focused on arresting sex buyers. For example, in areas of the city where prostitution is more common law enforcement officials pose as decoys on street corners, massage parlors, and online to identify and arrest sex buyers. In Fort Collins, Loveland, and Estes Park police typically charge sex buyers with “Soliciting for Prostitution,” a class 3 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 6 months in the Larimer County Jail and fines of not more $5,000. In addition, police often release the identities, images, and affiliated charges of arrested sex buyers to local media outlets. For example, in 2021, the Estes Park Police Department conducted a prostitution and sex trafficking enforcement operation with assistance from The Avery Center, Loveland Police Department, Longmont Police Department, Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers, and Boulder County District Attorney’s Office Forensic Investigators. The operation focused on citing individuals seeking to solicit prostitution online. According to reports,
“Undercover officers were contacted by over 350 potential buyers who were inquiring about prostitution services in Estes Park. Estes Park Police Officers arrested five men who were cited for Soliciting for Prostitution and released.”
Police also stated that the investigation was initiated because of the city’s close proximity to larger cities where prostitution and sex trafficking are pervasive issues, “As a destination community in close proximity to larger cities, Estes Park is a potential location for prostitution operations and sex trafficking. Prostitution is often viewed as a victimless crime, but it can be exploitative sex trafficking, and is often accompanied by additional criminal activities.” The identities of cited sex buyers were included in reports by local media outlets.
In addition to the possibility of receiving a jail sentence, individuals arrested for soliciting prostitution are often required to pay fines and complete a “john school” program. Since late 2017, courts have the ability to provide convicted sex buyers the option of completing a “john school” program (First Offender Restorative Initiative – FORI). FORI is an educational alternative sentencing program designed for men charged with patronizing and/or soliciting a prostitute and is an 8-hour, 1-day, mandatory session for first-time offenders. This program is designed as an interactive seminar that includes education and “exposure to the realities of prostitution and sex trafficking in Northern Colorado.” As of 2021, the program is delivered by local therapist Chris Bruno, and was developed in partnership with multiple agencies in the Fort Collins area, including the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office, Fort Collins Police Department, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, and a local anti-trafficking organization called Restoration Counseling.
The fee for the First Offender Restoration Initiative class was $375. Classes began at 8 a.m. and finished no later than 6 p.m. Specific locations have been announced one week prior to the class to maintain confidentiality. Only those deemed eligible by the courts may attend. Attendance to the entire class is mandatory in order to receive the Certificate of Completion. In many cases, participants who successfully complete the course have their charges reduced or dismissed.
- Estes Park Police Department
- Larimer County District Attorney’s Office
- Fort Collins Police Department
- Larimer County Sheriff’s Office
- Restoration Counseling
- First Offender Restoration Initiative (directed by local therapist, Chris Bruno)
- The Avery Center
- Loveland Police Department
- Longmont Police Department
- Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers
- Boulder County District Attorney’s Office Forensic Investigators
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.eptrail.com/police-detail-recent-prostitution-enforcement-operation/ (2021)
- https://criminaldefensefortcollins.com/fort-collins-soliciting-for-prostitution-attorney-prostitution-stings-reach-estes-park/ (2021)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Western Empire; Front Range; Stepfather Faces New Sex Charges,” Denver Post, January 3 1996.
- “Molester Gets 56-Year Term,” Rocky Mountain News, September 14 1996.
- “Western Empire; Northern Colorado; Molester Gets 56-Year Term,” Denver Post, September 17 1996.
- “Warrant Issued in Child-Sex Case,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, September 14 2004.
- “Suspect Arrested for Allegedly Soliciting for Child Prostitution,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, November 23 2011.
- “Man Set to Enter Plea in Child Solicitation Case,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, January 20 2012.
- “Fort Collins Man Accepts Plea Deal in Child-Prostitution Solicitation Case,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, June 4 2012.
- “Couple Admits Guilt to Arranging Prostitution at Fort Collins Massage Parlor,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, November 1 2013.
- “Fort Collins Police Investigate Alleged Sex Trafficking Ring in Massage Parlors,” CBS/KCNC-TV 4, November 2 2013.
- “Fort Collins Stabbing Suspect Jailed for Sex Trafficking,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, April 8 2015.
- http://www.9news.com/about-that-viral-post-about-foco-sex-trafficking (2018)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Cops Actions Questioned in 3 Prostitution Arrests; Allegations of Sexual Contact Lead to Investigation,” Denver Post, April 11 1996.
- “Cops Strayed in Parlor Probe; Loveland Suspends 3 for Sexual Contacts during Investigation of Prostitution Case,” Rocky Mountain News, April 11 1996.
- “Western Empire; Front Range; Women Charged in Sex with Cops,” Denver Post, May 2 1996.
- “Questionable Judgments,” Reading Eagle, September 13 1996.
- “Owner of Spa Faces Pimping Charges, Police Say Windsor Woman, Workers Offered Sex Acts to Customers,” Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald, November 4 2008.
- “Police Target Fort Collins Corridor,” Denver Post, August 6 2012.
- “Longmont, Fort Collins Police Investigate Suspected Prostitution at Massage Businesses,” Longmont Daily Times-Call, April 11 2013.
- “Couple Arrested, Accused of Running ‘House of Prostitution’ in Fort Collins Following Massage Parlor Raids,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, June 17 2013.
- “Deputies Investigating Prostitution Report at Fort Collins Hotel,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, September 10 2013.
- “Manager Accused of Pimping Fort Collins Massage Parlor Employees,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, October 31 2013.
- “Woman Convicted of Prostitution Sues Fort Collins after Denial of MMJ License,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, December 16 2013.
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