Eugene, OR

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

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.

 

Key Partners

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:

Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:

Shaming:

Community Service:

Cameras:

Neighborhood Action:

SOAP Orders/Exclusion Ordinance:

John School:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Oregon
Type City
Population 168196
Location
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