Eugene is the second largest city in Oregon with a population of approximately 170,000. Prostitution and sex trafficking are known problems in the city and surrounding areas of Lane County. The Eugene Police Department began arresting johns as a strategy for reducing prostitution and related crimes in the area, much earlier than most US cities. The city passed an ordinance in 1973 that held the customers of prostitution just as responsible as prostituted persons, and police adapted their enforcement tactics accordingly.
Reverse sting operations were initiated in 1975, and the names of the arrested johns were publicized that same year. In July 2014, EPD officers expanded the strategy to target johns soliciting sex online. In just under six hours, six men were arrested after responding to decoy advertisements. One of the ads claimed to be an underage girl looking for companionship, the other a 27-year-old female. All six of the arrestees were charged with prostitution; the two individuals who solicited what they thought was an underage girl were also charged with Online Sexual Corruption of a Minor. All of the men’s names were released to the public. In August 2017, a web based operation focused on apprehending those seeking to buy sex with children. Three men were arrested in the human trafficking and child prostitution sting conducted by Eugene police. A detective posing as a 15-year-old girl posted an advertisement online and received a text message from the suspects, who set up meetings with the detective at a hotel on Franklin Boulevard. Charges included first-degree online sexual corruption of a child, promoting prostitution, and a warrant for a parole violation. Eugene police declined to release the names of the hotels where the sting took place, but did release the identities of the arrested men.
Johns convicted in Eugene are sometimes sentenced to perform visible community service for the city, as a way of shaming them in the public as well as having offenders give something back to the community to offset damage caused by prostitution and the crimes it attracts and generates.
The sex-trafficking of minors is reportedly common in this area. Detective Curtis Newell won the 2010 National Exploited Children’s Award for his work in uncovering a prostitution ring that consisted mostly of underage girls. In the fall of 2011, a man was tried for trafficking two teenage girls, and the investigation led to uncovering over 100 local girls and women serving in prostitution. In March 2014, two local men were charged with sex trafficking a minor after an EPD officer, working with the support of the FBI, posed as a john and arranged to meet the underage female for commercial sex at a nearby motel. Following their arrest, the 16-year-old female reportedly told authorities that “she generally gave [the men] all of the money she made working as a prostitute” and that least one of the men knew she was underage, and “yelled at her to control her… she was afraid of him.”
While the city of Eugene is not known to have its own john school program, sex buyers arrested in Eugene have been given sentences including participation in the Sex Buyer Accountability course offered in Portland. In 2017, a Eugene detective used a teenage girl’s phone to pose as her and texted a suspect, and was eventually arrested in a web-based reverse sting. The man was sentenced to three years’ probation, 90 days of incarceration in Lane County Jail, 60 of which he was eligible to serve in an alternative program, and was required to take an eight-hour Sex Buyer Accountability class ran by LifeWorks NorthWest in Multnomah County.
In March 2019, a web-based reverse sting was conducted in Eugene, and the photos and identifying information of the arrested man were publicly released. The newly-formed Eugene Police Street Crimes Unit helped make the arrest, which was the result of a child prostitution sting. Detectives posed online as a 12-year-old girl, and a 34 year old man from Springfield responded and arranged to meet the girl at a Eugene location the next day. When he arrived, he was arrested by the Street Crimes team and then charged with online sexual corruption of a child and possession of a firearm. In the first quarter of 2019, there had been three arrests in Eugene that included a charge of online sexual corruption of a child.
In February, 2021 a Eugene Police Department Special Investigations detective conducted a web-based reverse sting for child sex trafficking, and posed online as a teenaged girl. Two men responded separately to the posting and made an agreement to meet the “girl” who identified herself as age 15, and then was arrested when they arrived up at the designated meeting location. The men, 53 and 58 years of age, responded to the undercover ad and solicited the “15-year-old girl” for intercourse (one also sent pornographic images of himself) and were charged for Online Sexual Corruption of a Child in the First degree.
Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “Five Adults, One Juvenile Charged; Citations Also Issued to 15 Men”, Eugene Register-Guard, May 17 1975.
- “Police Wrap Up Two-Day Sweep for ‘Johns'”, Eugene Register-Guard, July 8 1978.
- “Alleged ‘Johns’ Submit Walkouts-Pleas in Circuit Court”, Eugene Register-Guard, July 15 1978.
- “Police Arrest 10 in Crackdown on Prostitution”, Eugene Register-Guard, August 27 1980.
- “‘Johns’ Get Stung in Police Sting”, Eugene Register-Guard, July 29 1988.
- “15 Customers in Sting Case Plead Guilty”, Eugene Register-Guard, August 12 1988.
- “28 Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Eugene Register-Guard, September 30 1989.
- “Prostitution Sting Ends in 35 Arrests”, Eugene Register-Guard, February 2 1991.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 17 Men on Solicitation Charges”, Eugene Register-Guard, September 29 1998.
- https://www.eugene-or.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=3826 (2019)
Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “Eugene Police Arrest 6 Men in Prostitution Sting”, Eugene Register-Guard, July 31 2014.
- “Police Arrest 6 Men in 6 Hours on Prostitution Charges”, NBC/KTMR-TV 16, July 31 2014.
- “Police Post Fake Ads, Nab 6 Men in 6 Hours on Prostitution Charges”, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, July 31 2014.
- http://www.registerguard.com/rg/news/local/35829093-75/three-men-arrested-in-eugene-child-prostitution-sting (2017)
- https://www.kezi.com/content/news/Springfield-man-arrested-in-child-prostitution-sting (2019)
- https://www.kezi.com/content/news/Sutherlin-man-arrested-in-child-prostitution-sting (2019)
- https://www.eugene-or.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=3815&ARC=10441 (2019)
- https://kval.com/news/local/two-lane-county-men-arrested-for-sexual-corruption-of-minor-in-online-sting (2021)
- “Secrecy of ‘Johns’ Arrests Explained”, Eugene Register-Guard, August 28 1980.
- “Eugene, OR., Neighborhoods’ Threat Puts End to Prostitution”, Vancouver Columbian, May 29 2001.
- https://www.registerguard.com/eugene-school-safety-officer-former-epd-officer-accused-of-sex-with-prostitute (2019)
- “Suspects in Sting Get Offer: They’d Be Required to Aid Neighborhood”, Eugene Register-Guard, February 8 1991.
- “Eugene Tackles Prostitution”, Vancouver Columbian, March 25 2000.
- “Eugene, OR., Neighborhoods’ Threat Puts End to Prostitution”, Vancouver Columbian, May 29 2001.
SOAP Orders/Exclusion Ordinance:
- “Police Address Prostitution with Some Help”, Daily Emerald, June 27 2000.
- “Law Banning Criminals from Downtown Takes Effect in September”, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, August 13 2008.
- “Crooks: Stay Out of Downtown”, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, September 22 2008.
- “Is the Downtown Exclusion Zone Working?, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, October 6 2009.
- “Police Ask for 150-Day Extension on Downtown Public Safety Zone”, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, July 26 2010.
- “Exclusion Zone ‘an Experiment… About the Crime Problem Downtown'”, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, October 5 2010.
- “Downtown Exclusion Zone May Get Another 18 Months”, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, October 26 2010.
- “City Council Extends ‘Exclusion Zone’ through April 2012”, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, December 8 2010.
- “Downtown ‘Exclusion Zone’ Expires in April”, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, December 14 2011.
- “Citizens Speak Out About Downtown Exclusion Zone”, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, February 22 2012.
- “Downtown ‘Exclusion Zone’ Extended”, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, February 27 2012.
- “Downtown Eugene Exclusion Zone Debate”, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, September 14 2012.
- https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2012/02/52_portland_men_undergo_johns.html (2012)
- http://www.portlandcriminaldefenseblog.com/2012/02/multnomah-county-diversion-program-seems-to-discourage-sex-crimes.shtml (2012)
- https://www.pokrov.org/eugene-priest-gets-90-day-sentence-paying-teen-sex/ (2017)
- https://www.registerguard.com/eugene-priest-gets-90-day-sentence-for-paying-teen-for-sex.html.csp (2017)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Man Gets 13 Years for Running Prostitution Ring”, Eugene Register-Guard, August 2 1991.
- “Man Convicted: Prostitution Ring Preyed on Runaways”, Seattle Times, December 21 1997.
- “Unrepentant Defendant Asks Judge for a Kiss”, Vancouver Columbian, March 6 1998.
- “Man Charged in Eugene Underage Prostitution Ring”, Ashland Daily Tidings, August 3 2009.
- “Eugene Man Goes to Prison for Role in Prostitution Ring”, Eugene Register-Guard, August 8 2009.
- “Teenage Prostitutes in Eugene: ‘Our Mail Goal… Is to Rescue These Girls'”, ABC/KATU-TV 2, November 7 2009.
- “Vice Detective Honored for Rescuing Girls from Prostitution”, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, May 18 2010.
- “Prostitution Sting Leads to Arrest in Eugene”, FOX/KPTV-TV 12, December 7 2011.
- “Pimping Teens in Eugene Gets Man 15 Years in Prison”, CBS/KVAL-TV 13, March 15 2012.
- “Local Girls Escorted to Seamy Side of Life”, Eugene Register-Guard, April 1 2012.
- “Albany Man Indicted in Eugene on Sex Charges”, Albany Democrat-Herald, January 19 2013.
- “2 Men Accused of Trafficking in Sex with 16-Year-Old Girl”, Eugene Register-Guard, March 5 2014.
- “Human Trafficking Victim Rescued at Valley River Inn,” Eugene Register-Guard, May 5 2015.
- “Ex-Lake Oswego Cheerleader Admits Transporting Teen Schoolmate for Prostitution,” Portland Oregonian, June 16 2015.
- “Former Lake Oswego Cheerleader Gets 4 Years in Prison in Prostitution Case,” Portland Oregonian, September 28 2015.
- https://lawandcrime.com/crime/former-elementary-school-teacher-pleads-guilty-to-sex-trafficking-in-abuse-of-15-year-old-girl/ (2021)
Background on Prostitution in the Area: