Fort Collins is a city of roughly 150,000 residents, situated 65 miles north of Denver in Larimer County, Colorado. Commercial sex sales, particularly those arranged online and conducted within city hotels and adult-oriented businesses, have been reported in the community for at least two decades. Several cases of solicitation, commercial sexual exploitation, and trafficking of minors for prostitution have also been documented.
Although media outlets have reported john arrests in Fort Collins dating back to the mid-1990s, local law enforcement do not appear to have conducted demand-focused stings until 2015. In late March and early April of that year, the Fort Collins Police Department launched an investigation to identify individuals attempting to purchase sex online. Officers placed decoy advertisements to websites known for commercial sex activity, and arranged to the meet the individuals who responded to the listings.
Over a two-week period, 10 johns were arrested during two reversals. Both operations were staged at and with the cooperation of local hotels in the area. When asked about the stings, a FCPD representative commented:
“I think it’s going to be part of our everyday policing strategy. That’s what we want it to be, so (Fort Collins) is not a welcome place for this activity.”
Following the investigation, all of the arrested johns’ names and mugshots were publicized in press, with a note stating that the arrest photos had been provided by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.
In January 2017, twenty-one men seeking to buy sex were arrested in a web-based reverse sting. Fort Collins police posted online ads for one day in “escort sections of common buy/sell/trade websites.” A total of 444 people responded to the ads, and 21 men scheduled appointments to pay for sexual services on the day of the sting.
In late July, 2018, eleven men 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 clients responded to false prostitution advertisements placed online by Fort Collins police. Eleven of those men scheduled appointments and agreed to pay for various sex acts, totaling $1,825 in monetary exchanges ($165 per client).
John School: First Offender Restoration Initiative
An option prosecutors may use for sex buyers arrested in Fort Collins 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, Restoration Counseling and local anti-trafficking organizations.
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.
- Fort Collins Police Department
- Larimer County Sheriff’s Office
- Free Our Girls (First Offender Restoration Initiative)
- John Arrests with Shaming:
- “Prosecutor Evaluating Evidence in Case of Alleged Solicitation,” Colorado Springs Gazette, April 8 1988.
- “Briefing; Residents Want Banker Punished,” Colorado Springs Gazette, June 12 1988.
- Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “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/2016/11/10-arrested-in-latest-fort-collins-undercover-prostitution-sting/ (2016)
- http://www.reporterherald.com/news/larimer-county/ci_32049228/fort-collins-police-conduct-sting-arrest-11-soliciting (2018)
- https://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2018/08/03/fort-collins-police-conduct-prostitution-sting-attracting-hundreds-effort-reduce-trafficking (2018)
- https://collegian.com/2018/08/prostitution-sting-leads-to-9-citations-2-arrests-in-fort-collins/ (2018)
- John School:
- https://patch.com/colorado/across-co/human-trafficking-officers-arrest-21-fort-collins-sex-sting (2018)
- http://www.reporterherald.com/ci_31651276/fort-collins-police-fight-human-trafficking-enforcement-education (2018)
- https://northfortynews.com/94350-2/ (2018)
- https://www.fcgov.com/news/index.php?id=7061 (2018)
- https://www.restorationcounselingnoco.com/fori/ (2018)
- https://www.coloradoan.com/fort-collins-police-lcso-make-contact-more-than-400-prostitution-sting (2018)
- Vehicle Seizure:
- Background on 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/73-8105643 (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.