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Greenville is a city in northwestern South Carolina, with a population of approximately 68,000 residents. It is the county seat of Greenville County, SC. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been known to occur in the city. For example, in 2012 an Upstate man was arrested for child sex trafficking in Greenville. The sex trafficker’s arrest was the result of a prostitution investigation in which officials believed to have identified two child sex trafficking victims, ages 16 and 13, through ads found on websites known for prostitution. Undercover officials arranged to meet the teenage girls, posing as potential sex buyers. According to the arrest warrant, the sex trafficker had responded to undercover officials online and had transported the girls to the location where detectives from the Greenville Police Department had set up the operation. The girls were intercepted after offering sex acts to undercover officers in exchange for money. The sex trafficker was charged with three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, two counts of pimp/aid or abetting prostitution, and two counts of promoting prostitution of a minor. He was held at the Greenville County Detention Center on a $30,940 bond.
To combat demand for commercial sex, the GPD has been conducting street-level reverse stings using undercover female officers since at least 1989, if not earlier. In a 1991 operation, 12 male sex buyers were arrested by undercover female officers, in addition to their encounters being videotaped. Arrested sex buyers frequently have their names and other identifying details released in reports by news outlets. Some of the reversals have been large-scale, spanning up to three days and resulting in the arrest of up to 48 male sex buyers. For example, in August of 2014, GPD officers conducted a four-day reverse sting that resulted in the arrest of 33 male sex buyers. The identities and photos of arrested sex buyers were released to the public.
Web-based reverse stings have also been conducted in Greenville, targeting predators buying sex with children as well as those buying sex with adults through websites known for prostitution and sex trafficking activity. For example, in September 2018, a joint undercover and online sting operation in Greenville resulted in the arrest of 10 male sexual exploiters and 11 male sex buyers. “Operation Intercept” was led by the Greenville Police Department under the direction of the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, in addition to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, Richland County Sheriff’s Office, Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, York County Sheriff’s Office, and Florence County Sheriff’s Office, in addition to participation by the Mauldin Police Department and the Simpsonville Police Department. Undercover officers posed as prostituted women and communicated with potential sex buyers online, while another team initiated online conversations posing as a 14-year-old girl, to identify individuals seeking to sexually exploit children in exchange for money. A Captain with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said that as soon as they posted online, the response was immediate.
John School & Public Education
In 2013, a faith-based organization (Switch 42:16) that seeks to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation developed a john school program in cooperation with the Greenville Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office. The goal of the school is to offer a place where men who are charged with soliciting sex can come and learn about the many effects of their actions – such as legal ramifications upon themselves, STD’s, drug and alcohol abuse the women suffer, sex trafficking, and effects on the community in which they are buying sex. The organization also employs “Demand Teams” consisting of men who teach other men and boys about the negative consequences of sex trafficking, prostitution, stripping, and pornography. The first session of the john school had been scheduled to occur in mid-November 2013. As of 2021, we cannot confirm whether or not the program is still operating.
Street-Level Reverse Stings and Shaming:
- Police arrest 14 men in prostitution sting operation (1989)
- Prostitution sting results in 12 arrests (1989)
- Police snag 12 in prostitution sting (1991)
- “Prostitution Arrests: 20 Men’s Names Released”, NBC/WYFF-TV 4, April 28 2008.
- “17 Arrested in Reverse Prostitution Sting”, CBS/WSPA-TV 7, September 22 2008.
- “Greenville Pastor Among 48 Arrested in Stings”, FOX/WHNS-TV 21, July 2 2012.
- https://patch.com/south-carolina/taylors/fifteen-arrested-in-prostitution-sting (2012)
- “59 Arrested in 3-Day Prostitution Sweep in SC Town”, CBS/WBTW-TV 13, September 18 2013.
- “59 Arrested By Greenville Police In Latest Prostitution Sting”, CBS/WNCT-TV 9, August 20 2014.
- https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna55906004 (2014)
- “GPD Releases Mug Shots in Major Prostitution Sting; 33 Arrests; Drugs, Money Seized”, NBC/WYFF-TV 4, August 20 2014.
- “Nearly 60 Arrested in SC town’s 4-day Prostitution Sting”, CBS/WBTW-TV 13, August 20 2014.
- “Greenville Police Arrest 20 on Prostitution Charges,” Greenville News, May 15 2015.
- https://www.cbs17.com/news/25-nabbed-in-major-one-day-prostitution-sting-in-sc-town/ (2016)
- https://www.wbtw.com/news/prostitution-sting-in-sc-results-in-43-arrests/ (2016)
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- https://www.wyff4.com/article/21-arrested-in-upstate-sting-that-targeted-child-sex-predators-men-soliciting-prostitutes (2018)
- https://www.foxcarolina.com/news/sheriff-more-than-arrested-in-operation-intercept-targeting-child-predators (2018)
- https://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article220371520.html (2018)
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking, Child Sexual Exploitation, Prostitution in the Area:
- Prostitution – An Institution? (1975)
- “SC Man Was ‘Pimp’ for 2 Teen Prostitutes, Officials Say”, CBS/WBTW-TV 13, December 4 2012.
- https://www.live5news.com/story/20257540/police-man-pimps-girls-13-16/ (2012)
- https://www.wyff4.com/article/police-man-pimps-girls-13-16/7002833 (2012)
- “Raleigh Man Arrested, Accused of Forcing Teen into Prostitution”, NBC/WNCN-TV 17, June 28 2013.
- “Greenville Mom Fights Parole of Daughter’s Killer”, Greenville News, July 7 2014.
- “Greenville Brothel Busted in Sex Trafficking Sweep, Feds Say,” NBC/WYFF-TV 4, October 30 2015.
- https://hooversun.com/news/sc-man-gets-20-years-in-prison-after-pimping-teenage-girls/ (2015)
- https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/2018/11/15/greenville-man-gets-10-years-federal-prison-prostitution-/ (2018)
- https://www.greenvilleonline.com/greenville-south-carolina-motels-receive-little-county-inspections (2021)
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: