Hocking County, OH
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Hocking County is a county of about 28,000 residents, located southeast of Columbus, Ohio. Its county seat is Logan. Child sexual exploitation has been documented in the county. For example, in March 2022, a Hocking County couple were charged with creating and distributing child sexual abuse materials (i.e., child pornography) of at least three minor children, one as young as 3-4-years-old. The Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a tip regarding the online child exploitation. The couple allegedly produced CSAM through grooming and sexual abuse of minor victims, as well as distributing those images and possessing more than 1,100 images of CSAM.
In November 2017, a man was arrested after conversing online with and soliciting sex in exchange for money from an undercover detective with the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office, who was posing as a 16-year-old girl. The man was arrested after showing up at their arranged meeting location with cash, sex toys, and lingerie in his vehicle. In April 2018, the man was ordered to attend the Columbus John Education Program as part of a plea bargain. This was the first time the Hocking County Common Pleas Court judge ordered an offender to john school. His original charge of two fifth-degree felonies, soliciting and importuning with forfeiture specifications, were downgraded to two first degree misdemeanors, attempted solicitation and attempted importuning, and his 180-day jail time was suspended as part of the plea deal. The man was also required to register as a Tier 1 sex offender for 15 years, attend sex offender counseling, pay $1,000 fine, and possess no drugs or alcohol. The Columbus Assistant City Attorney who runs the john school explained the program as follows:
“What it entails is just educating these individuals to let them know what the consequences of their actions are. A lot of them go into this kind of thing with the misconception that it’s just a transaction between two consenting adults, when in reality what we try to show them is all the unintended consequences that their actions have.”
After a May, 2018 reverse sting operation conducted by the Hocking County Sheriff’s office that resulted in his arrest, a man was ordered to “john school” as a stipulation of a plea bargain. This was reportedly the first time Hocking County Common Pleas Court Judge John Wallace ordered an offender to john school. The offender was originally charged with two fifth-degree felonies that were downgraded to two first-degree misdemeanors. The court suspended his jail time of 180 days on each charge as a part of the plea bargain. The man was sentenced to attend a program in Columbus —the John Education Program — that is the closest john school to Hocking County, Ohio. Typically, arrested sex buyers are sent to the education program closest to their permanent residence. The Columbus program has been in operation since 2005. Columbus Assistant City Attorney Michael Allbritain, who runs the Columbus John Education Program, said the curriculum aims to educate offenders about the negative impacts of prostitution and deter them from committing a similar crime. In their program, presenters typically include law enforcement, Columbus Public Health and former victims of human trafficking. The Columbus John Education Program typically takes on 150 to 200 johns per year, and since its inception, the program has only had 12 repeat offenders on record (as of 2018).
In October, 2022, the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office reported that their agency, with the assistance of the Southeastern Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted a joint Human Trafficking Operation, by means of a prostitution sting, in the Hocking Hills area. Several individuals from around Ohio, and across the country, responded to online ads to meet women and children to pay to engage in various acts of sexual abuse with them. The offenders were identified in news reports.
- Crimes Against Women and Children Detective
- Columbus John Education Program
- Columbus Assistant City Attorney
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure, John School:
- https://www.facebook.com/hockingsheriff/photos (2017)
- https://www.facebook.com/hockingsheriff/photos/on-october-31st-the-hocking-county-sheriffs-office-began-another-investigation (2017)
- https://www.logandaily.com/news/john-schools-curb-prostitution-with-education-over-jail-time (2018)
- https://www.logandaily.com/news/angle-ordered-to-attend-john-school (2018)
- https://www.sciotopost.com/hocking-county-arrested-four-individuals-for-human-tracking/ (2022)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation, Related CSAM in the Area:
- https://www.sciotopost.com/icac-raids-arrests-man-child-sex-crimes-hocking-county (2021)
- https://highlandcountypress.com/Hocking-County-Sheriff-s-Office-arrests-Logan-couple-accused-of-sex-related-crimes (2022)
- https://www.nbc4i.com/hocking-county/hocking-co-woman-charged-with-producing-child-pornography (2022)
- https://www.justice.gov/hocking-county-couple-charged-federally-producing-child-pornography (2022)
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