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Higginsville is a city in Lafayette County, Missouri, with a population of approximately 4,700. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and nearby communities. 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, and some cases of local sex trafficking have also involved child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often referred to in state laws as “child pornography).
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. For example, in June, 2021 a 60-year-old Higginsville man was arrested and then later charged with more than 30 counts of sex- and pornography-related felonies involving juveniles in Johnson County has a court proceeding scheduled. According to a probable-cause statement, the sex buyer was alleged to have been in possession of nude pictures of numerous youths on his phone and/or laptop and forcibly sexually abused multiple female juveniles over a period of time from 2018 to 2020. According to court documents, the man was charged with felonies that include Exploitation of a Minor, Possession of Child Pornography, Use of Child in Sexual Performance, Promoting Child Pornography in the Second Degree, Patronizing Prostitution, Rape or Attempted Rape and Sodomy or Attempted Sodomy; and sex-related misdemeanors. The man pleaded not guilty in Johnson County Circuit Court.
The local municipal code for prostitution may be found here. The city ordinance distinguishes buying from selling sex, and clearly states that sex of either party is irrelevant to the criminal conduct or determining the roles any party has in the crime.
[Ord. No. 2667 § 1, 4-3-2017]
- A person commits the offense of patronizing prostitution if he/she, pursuant to prior understanding, gives something of value to another person for having engaged in sexual contact with any person, or gives or agrees to give something of value to another person with the understanding that such person or another person will engage in sexual contact with any person, or solicits or requests another person to engage in sexual contact with any person in return for something of value.
- It shall not be an affirmative defense that the defendant believed that the person he/she patronized for prostitution was eighteen (18) years of age or older.
- In any prosecution for prostitution or patronizing a prostitute, the sex of the two (2) parties or prospective parties to the sexual conduct engaged in, contemplated or solicited is immaterial, and it is no defense that:
- Both persons were of the same sex; or
- The person who received, agreed to receive or solicited something of value was a male and the person who gave or agreed or offered to give something of value was a female.
 Note—Under certain circumstances this offense can be a felony under state law.
- Missouri State Highway Patrol
- Johnson County Circuit Court
Sex Buyer Arrest and Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.kmmo.com/higginsville-man-facing-multiple-pornography-related-felonies-has-court-proceeding-set-for-wednesday-august-11/ (2021)
- https://www.kmzu.com/sex-trafficking-among-charges-against-higginsville-man/ (2021)
- https://www.warrensburgstarjournal.com/warrensburg-juveniles-among-victims-in-suspected-child-trafficking (2021)
- https://www.sedaliademocrat.com/police-reports (2021)
Municipal Code Clearly Defining Patronizing Prostitution as a Distinct Offense: