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Golden is a city and former gold rush town of approximately 20,000 residents, located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It is the county seat of Jefferson County, CO. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been documented in the city and surrounding areas. This activity and its ancillary crimes have generated residential complaints to local law enforcement. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2015, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit arrested and charged seven individuals for sex trafficking a homeless teenage girl. According to reports, a Lakewood couple met the teenage girl near a liquor store on West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood in June 2014. At first they told the girl that she could sleep at their house, but after arriving at the apartment, she was sex trafficked in exchange for a place to stay. The couple took photos of the girl and posted them on websites known for prostitution and sex trafficking. The teen was given a pre-paid phone card to communicate with potential sex buyers and arrange locations and prices to engage in sexual activity. The couple was arrested on charges of pimping a child, pandering of a child, soliciting for child prostitution, keeping a place of child prostitutes, inducement of child prostitution, and contributing to the delinquency of a child. In addition, five men were arrested and charged with counts including solicitation of child prostitution (i.e., child sex trafficking).
To combat consumer-level demand for commercial sex, the Golden Police Department has participated in web-based reverse sting operations. For example, in 2015, the GPD participated the FBI’s annual child sex trafficking operation, Operation Cross Country IX, focused on apprehending sex buyers and sex traffickers in addition to identifying and rescuing child sex trafficking victims. As a result of the investigation, the Denver FBI Task Force and participating local agencies successfully identified and rescued 20 child sex trafficking victims and arrested seven sex traffickers.
Loss of employment and identity disclosure are also consequences of buying sex in the city. For example, in 2011, the operator of several strip clubs in the Denver metro area and high school tennis coach at Golden High School was arrested in a prostitution sting on West Colfax Avenue. According to court documents, the sex buyer was cited for furthering the act of prostitution after allegedly approaching and engaging with an undercover Denver policewoman during a prostitution sting. In addition to owning several strip clubs, the sex buyer had been the tennis coach at Golden High School since 2009. After finding out about the arrest, Jeffco Public Schools fired the tennis coach and sent a letter to school parents informing them of the incident and the termination of the coach’s employment. The sex buyer’s identity and image were included in reports by local media outlets.
Web-Based Reverse Sting:
Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:
- https://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/highschool-prep-rally/prep-coach-fired-furthering-prostitition-charge (2011)
- https://www.denverpost.com/strip-club-owner-arrested-in-prostitution-sting-loses-job-as-golden-high-school-tennis-coach (2011)
- https://denver.cbslocal.com/golden-high-school-tennis-coach-arrested-in-prostitution-case (2011)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://denver.cbslocal.com/customers-offered-massages-happy-feet (2013)
- https://denver.cbslocal.com/authorities-cracking-down-on-prostitution-human-trafficking-in-colorado (2013)
- https://kdvr.com/7-charged-in-child-trafficking-and-prostitution-case-near-golden (2015)
- https://www.cbsnews.com/news/colorado-couple-accused-of-pimping-out-homeless-teen (2015)
- https://www.denverpost.com/jeffco-accuses-two-of-forcing-17-year-old-girl-into-prostitution (2015)
- https://www.9news.com/article/news/crime/man-found-guilty-of-pimping-17-year-old (2016)
- https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/crime/former-westminster-officer-jeffco-investigator-charged-with-alleged-sexual-assaults (2021)