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Fayette County, West Virginia has a population of approximately 46,000. Its county seat is Fayetteville, and it is part of the Beckley Metropolitan Statistical Area in Southern West Virginia. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the county, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. Some cases of local sex trafficking have also involved child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often referred to in state laws as “child pornography). For example, in September, 2021, a West Virginia woman admitted in federal court that she arranged for a local police chief to rape a teenage girl in her family for as little as $50. The woman was present during both assaults, and received $100 for the first incident and charged $50 for the second. The Fayette County woman was arrested the prior March following a months-long investigation. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a minor. The crimes were uncovered after the victim contacted law enforcement to report the abuse, which allegedly took place in June 2020. In the first incident, the woman drove the teen to a spot within the County near a river and watched as the man, wearing his police uniform, forced the girl to perform oral sex on him and then raped her outside his squad car. The second incident took place in an old high school building that is now a city-owned community center in Gauley. The woman also took photos of the victim’s buttocks and breasts and ordered her to take similar pictures at times, and then sent those images to people who paid her through Cash App.
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. Demand reduction tactics used within the county include the arrest of sex buyers and the public disclosure of their identities. For example, in November, 2018, a Fayette County man was arrested and detained in jail on prostitution charges. He had admitted to police he had paid 20 dollars for oral sex and had “split a bag of dope” with the prostituted person. In the aforementioned sex trafficking case adjudicated in 2021, a man was arrested and faced federal sex trafficking charges for paying to sexually abuse a minor while serving as the Chief of Police for the Gauley Bridge Police Department. Court documents said the man paid a 28-year-old Fayette County woman $50 to $100 to sexually assault her 17-year-old female relative. The man had been Chief of Police at Gauley Bridge Police Department and an employee at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department at the time of the crimes, in June 2020.
- Fayette County Sheriff’s Department
- Gauley Bridge Police Department
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.facebook.com/montgomery-wv-woay-a-fayette-county-man-is-in-jail-on-prostitution-charges (2018)
- https://wvva.com/former-police-chief-fayette-county-woman-to-remain-in-jail-on-sex-trafficking-charges/ (2021)
- https://wvva.com/former-gauley-bridge-police-chief-fayette-county-woman-charged-with-child-sex-trafficking/ (2021)
- https://www.wfxrtv.com/former-police-chief-fayette-county-deputy-found-guilty-of-child-sex-trafficking/ (2023)
Background on Local Prostitution Sex Trafficking, Related CSAM:
- https://www.lipstickalley.com/woman-accepted-100-for-former-police-chief-to-rape-her-teen-relative/ (2021)
- https://www.lootpress.com/man-walking-up-the-road-with-only-a-bra-and-panties-on-arrested-for-obstructing-and-battery/ (2022)
- https://www.register-herald.com/human-smuggling-becoming-problem-in-west-virginia/ (2023)