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Ghent is a census-designated place in Raleigh County, West Virginia, near the city of Beckley. As of the 2020 census, its population was less than 600. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the county and its other communities in the immediate area. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. In 2006, Ghent resident was caught in a prostitution sting operation in Beckley. On at least one occasion, local law enforcement has employed tactics in Ghent that are used to combat demand for commercial sex that drives all prostitution and sex trafficking. In October, 2020 Troopers with the West Virginia State Police arrested a man for attempting to pay to sexually abuse a child. The man was charged with Patronizing a Victim of Sex Trafficking, and his identity was included in news reports. The investigation began on Sept. 30 after the man responded to an advertisement where two children were being sold “for sexual activities.” He traveled to the pre-arranged location in an attempted to meet with the child at an adult bookstore off Exit 28 of I-77 in Ghent, WV, but left the scene instead. Law enforcement officers followed the man to Mercer County then pulled him over and arrested him. Investigators said he is a registered sex offender. During questioning, the man claimed to be responding to the post in order to tell authorities, but had made no effort to do so prior to the arrest.
- West Virginia State Police
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- https://www.register-herald.com/news/local_news/stung (2006)
- “Raleigh Judge Finds Probable Cause in Alleged Child Sex Solicitation Case”, Beckley Register-Herald, July 17 2014.
- “Solicitation of a Minor: Case Heading to Grand Jury”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, July 17 2014.
- https://www.bdtonline.com/jurors-hear-champs-side (2015)
- https://wchstv.com/raleigh-county-man-found-guilty-attempting-to-entice-girl-sending-sexual-images (2022)
- https://www.wvnstv.com/business-owners-fed-up-with-prostitution-in-the-area/ (2018)
- https://www.facebook.com/raliegh county woman arrested prostitution (2019)
Local Prostitution Ordinance: