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Fort Collins is a city of roughly 169,000 residents, situated 65 miles north of Denver 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. Numerous cases of prostitution, solicitation of prostitution, commercial sexual exploitation, and child sex trafficking have also been documented.
Although media outlets have reported sex buyer arrests in Larimer County dating back to the mid-1990s, evidence of demand-focused stings by local law enforcement first appeared in 2015. In late March and early April of 2015, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, in collaboration with the Fort Collins Police Department, conducted an investigation to identify individuals attempting to purchase sex online. Officers placed decoy advertisements on websites known for commercial sex activity and arranged to the meet the individuals who responded to the listings at local hotels. Over a two-week period and two web-based reverse stings, 10 sex buyers were arrested. Both operations were conducted with the cooperation of local hotels in the area. An additional operation was conducted later that same year (2015), resulting in the arrest of five male sex buyers. Regarding the success of these operations, NET Officer Annie Hill said:
“We’ve definitely noticed a decrease in prostitution activity since we’ve started conducting these operations.”
Following the investigations, all of the arrested sex buyers’ identities and mugshots were publicized in the press, each photo being indicated as taken by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.
In January 2018, 21 male sex buyers were arrested in a web-based reverse sting in Larimer County. The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Collins Police Department posted false advertisements on various “escort sections of common buy/sell/trade websites.” In only one day, a total of 444 people responded to the ads, with a total of 21 men arranging appointments for what they believed to be commercial sex transactions, which were actually a web-based reverse prostitution sting.
In late July 2018, 11 male sex buyers were arrested during a “Human Trafficking Demand Reduction Operation” that attracted hundreds of men looking to buy sexual services. During the one-day operation, 282 potential sex buyers responded to false advertisements placed online by Fort Collins police. Eleven men scheduled appointments and agreed to pay for various sex acts, totaling $1,825 in monetary exchanges ($165 per male sex buyer).
In the spring of 2020, the owners of Fort Collins Chinese Foot Massage, as well as Touch of Heaven Massage, were arrested and charged with the following:
- Keeping a Place of Prostitution – a Class 2 Misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $250-$1,000 and/or 3-12 months in jail
- Pimping – a Class 3 Felony punishable by a fine of $3,000-$750,000 and/or a jail term of four to 12 years
Records indicate that the individuals were charged on numerous other related offenses in addition to having their licenses suspended, which were ineligible for renewal.
John School: First Offender Restoration Initiative
An option prosecutors may utilize for arrested sex buyers in Larimer County is an 8-hour, 1-day mandatory “John School” class for first-time offenders. First Offender Restoration Initiative (FORI) is an educational alternative sentencing program in Northern Colorado designed for men charged with patronizing and/or soliciting a prostitute. FORI is an interactive seminar that includes education and “exposure to the realities of prostitution and sex trafficking in Northern Colorado.” 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 is $375. Classes begin at 8 a.m. and finish no later than 6 p.m. Specific locations are 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 complete the FORI course and receive a certificate of completion may have their charges reduced or dismissed.
Web-Based Reverse Stings with Identity Disclosure:
- “Fort Collins Prostitution Sting Jails 10,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, April 10 2015.
- “Five Arrested in Undercover Prostitution Sting in Fort Collins,” FOX/KDVR-TV 31, November 18 2015.
- “9 Johns Jailed in Latest Fort Collins Prostitution Sting,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, July 31 2016.
- https://collegian.com/10-arrested-in-latest-fort-collins-undercover-prostitution-sting (2016)
- http://www.reporterherald.com/news/larimer-county/fort-collins-police-conduct-sting-arrest-11-soliciting (2018)
- https://www.coloradoan.com/fort-collins-prostitution-sting-attracting-hundreds-effort-reduce-trafficking (2018)
- https://collegian.com/prostitution-sting-leads-to-9-citations-2-arrests-in-fort-collins (2018)
- https://newcountry991.com/8-arrested-in-fort-collins-area-prostitution-sting (2019)
- https://www.reporterherald.com/8-men-arrested-in-prostitution-sting-along-i-25 (2019)
- https://patch.com/colorado/across-co/human-trafficking-officers-arrest-21-fort-collins-sex-sting (2018)
- http://www.reporterherald.com/fort-collins-police-fight-human-trafficking-enforcement-education (2018)
- https://northfortynews.com (2018)
- https://www.fcgov.com/news/index.php (2018)
- https://www.restorationcounselingnoco.com/fori (2018)
- https://www.coloradoan.com/fort-collins-police-lcso-make-contact-more-than-400-prostitution-sting (2018)
Employment Loss, Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:
- “Prosecutor Evaluating Evidence in Case of Alleged Solicitation,” Colorado Springs Gazette, April 8 1988.
- Prosecutor in banker sex case quits (1988)
- “Briefing; Residents Want Banker Punished,” Colorado Springs Gazette, June 12 1988.
- Residents to boycott bank, want apology by executive (1988)
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/video/news/crime/about-that-viral-post-about-foco-sex-trafficking (2018)
- Owners of Fort Collins Chinese Foot Massage & Touch of Heaven Massage Arrested on Pimping Charges (2020)
- https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/woman-arrested-for-pimping-prostitution-in-fort-collins (2022)
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.
- https://www.coloradoan.com/fort-collins-police-prostitution-sting-attracting-hundreds-reduce-trafficking (2018)
- https://www.greeleytribune.com/2-arrested-pimping-keeping-place-of-prostitution-fort-collins-spas (2020)
- https://999thepoint.com/another-fort-collins-massage-parlor-busted-for-prostitution (2020)
- https://www.shorenewsnetwork.com/fort-collins-couple-prison-for-operating-prostitution-ring (2021)
- https://www.1310kfka.com/news/fort-collins-woman-arrested-in-prostition-sting (2022)
- https://www.fcgov.com/news (2022)