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Hendersonville is a city of approximately 62,000 residents, located just north of Nashville in Sumner County, in central Tennessee. Hendersonville is the largest city in Sumner County, and the fourth-largest city in the Nashville metropolitan area after Nashville, Murfreesboro, and Franklin and the 10th largest in Tennessee. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Sumner County. 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 child sex trafficking.
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Hendersonville Police Department, Sumner County Sheriff’s Office and other collaborating agencies have conducted reverse stings. For example, in August 2016, three-day operation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and partner agencies to combat human trafficking in Nashville has resulted in the arrest of 41 individuals on prostitution-related charges; 34 men, six women and one juvenile. More than half of the men responding to ads tried to buy access to sexually abuse a minor. Among those arrested was a Hendersonville resident who was charged with Patronizing Prostitution. The Nashville-based anti-trafficking operation, called “Operation Someone Like Me” was the sixth of its kind in the state between the TBI and partner agencies to help identify, investigate and prosecute trafficking, and rescue victims. Those arrested include a high school teacher, a college football player, a truck driver, a student and a state IT Specialist.
In February, 2022, an undercover operation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and several other agencies resulted in the arrest of 13 men accused of seeking illicit sex from minors in Hendersonville. The investigation was a combined effort of the TBI Human Trafficking Unit, Hendersonville Police Department, Sumner County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, and Tennessee Human Trafficking Task Force. Officials said that over two days starting on Feb. 3, undercover officers placed several decoy advertisements on websites known to be linked to prostitution and commercial sex. The focus of the operation was to identify individuals seeking to engage in commercial sex acts with minors. The identities of all the arrested men were publicly disclosed.
Not all local arrests are the result of sting operations using police decoys. For example, in October 2016, three people faced prostitution-related charges in Hendersonville. Police officers were patrolling an area due to recent burglaries, and had approached a man inside a vehicle in the 200 block of Sanders Ferry Road. They made contact with the driver, and eventually determined that his “girlfirend” was inside a residence having sex for money. The woman was charged with prostitution, the man in the car was charged with promoting prostitution and driving on a revoked license, and the sex buyer was cited for patronizing prostitution. All three were issued an order to appear in the Sumner County General Sessions Court. In January, 2018 the Hendersonville Police Department received a complaint from a victim who was staying at a local hotel. The victim stated that he made contact with a suspect on a dating app and requested he come to the hotel, and the subject came to his hotel room. Once in the room the suspect robbed the victim. The robbery victim was charged with patronizing prostitution and held in the Sumner County Jail under a $5,000.00 bond.
- Hendersonville Police Department
- Sumner County General Sessions Court
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Disclosure of Identities:
- https://www.tennessean.com/hendersonville-police-3-face-prostitution-charges (2016)
- https://fox17.com/three-arrested-on-prostitution-charges-in-hendersonville (2016)
- https://sumnerhomepage.com/hotel-robbery-victim-charged-patronizing-prostitution/ (2018)
- https://www.wsmv.com/major-sex-trafficking-bust-in-hendersonville/video (2022)
- https://www.wsmv.com/tbi-bust-highlights-growing-sex-trafficking-problem-in-tennessee (2022)
- https://www.hendersonvillestandard.com/13-charged-in-human-trafficking-sting/ (2022)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://www.gallatinnews.com/news/gallatin-woman-arrested-for-prostitution-near-a-school (2013)
- https://www.tennessean.com/homeless-woman-faces-prostitution-drug-charges-hendersonville (2016)
- https://www.wkrn.com/news/fairview-reserve-officer-resigns-after-prostitution-bust (2016)
- https://www.wate.com/42-arrested-in-middle-tenn-human-trafficking-sting-operation/ (2017)
- https://www.tennessean.com/millersville-lynn-crouch-prostitution-drugs-arrest (2017)
- https://www.wsmv.com/news/woman-charged-with-prostitution-details-relationship-with-city-official (2017)
- https://smokeybarn.com/former-millersville-commissioner-charged-with-felony-coercion/ (2018)
- https://www.wsmv.com/news/tbi-bust-highlights-growing-sex-trafficking-problem-in-tennessee (2022)
- https://www.wsmv.com/news/sumner-county-officials-to-address-human-trafficking/ (2022)
- https://www.hendersonvillestandard.com/news/13-charged-in-human-trafficking-sting (2022)