Grove City, OH

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Grove City is a city in Franklin County, Ohio. It is a suburb of Columbus and has a population of about 42,000 residents. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the Franklin County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious problems associated with commercial sex in the area include child sex trafficking. For example, in March 2016, Grove City police arrested a woman for soliciting prostitution at a hotel on Stringtown Road. A police detective noticed an ad on a website offering escort services in Grove City, and called the telephone number listed in the ad and received a text message advising him to come to a specified room at the hotel, and that it would cost $160. The officer arrived at the hotel room wearing a communications wire so the transaction could be monitored. He was greeted by the 51-year-old woman, entered the room, pulled out the money, and indicated what he was seeking and the woman agreed to the arrangement. The woman was then arrested and charged with prostitution.

In January 2017, two men were arrested and could face life in prison if convicted of all charges associated with their exploiting a Grove City girl as part of a sex trafficking operation. Prosecutors alleged that the suspects took pictures of a girl under the age of 18 as she was being sexually exploited, then posted the images on an online classified advertisement site. The U.S. Attorney said the men took the girl from Grove City to Youngstown, Ohio to make money by having her engage in prostitution. The two men were charged with production of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, interstate transportation of a minor for the purpose of engaging in unlawful sexual activity, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, and sex trafficking of a child. One of the men faced a maximum total sentence of life imprisonment, and a fine of $1 million. The other could have been sentenced to life in prison and $750,000 fine. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Grove City Police conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in the case, which was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative of the Department of Justice to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.

To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking. For example, in January 2017, Grove City Police noticed an increase in prostitution occurring in local hotels, and an increase in online advertising for escort services or massages providing cover for prostitution ads. Grove City Police and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office investigators responded with a sting, posting their own ad on one of the websites. Moments later, they began receiving responses from individuals looking to buy sex. Officers ended up arresting 21 men during the sting, charging them with solicitation. In October 2021, Grove City police conducted a web-based reverse sting as a local element of a statewide operation called “Operation Ohio Knows.” In less than six hours of posting ads online, Grove City officers received over 100 messages from men, some traveling from over an hour away. At least three men were arrested and charged with soliciting.


In 2021 Ohio prostitution laws were strengthened, with increased penalties for men buying sex intended to decrease demand. House Bill 431 separated the act of buying sex from the act of selling sex. Now, those who purchase sex face a first-degree misdemeanor and a fine of up to $1,500.

Key Partners

  • Grove City Police Department
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Franklin County Sheriff’s Office
State Ohio
Type City
Population 41787
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