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Ingham County is a county located in Michigan with a population of approximately 284,000 residents. Its government seat is Mason, MI and the state capital of Michigan, Lansing, is largely located within the county. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented problems within the county. Ingham County prosecution logs, obtained by the Lansing State Journal through a FOIA request, showed at least 140 prostitution-related cases had been brought to court between 2010 and 2016. In most cases, defendants pleaded to misdemeanor charges. Women as young as 19 and as old as 56 have consistently told police they sold themselves into a dangerous life out of desperation. In October 2014, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, the FBI, the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office, the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, and the Lansing Police Department announced that three people had been arrested and charged with operating a child sex trafficking ring in Lansing. A federal grand jury for the Western District of Michigan indicted one defendant on charges including sex trafficking of minors; sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion; and interstate transportation for the purposes of prostitution. The Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office charged two defendants for sex trafficking girls in the same ring. The federal indictment charged the man with sex trafficking three minors – including one by force, fraud, or coercion – in Ingham County and elsewhere from March through July 2014. It also charged him with transporting another person from Michigan to Arizona in August 2012 for prostitution, and then sex trafficking the same person by force, fraud, or coercion in early September of that year. The Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office charges were for recruiting minors for child sexually abusive activity. The FBI alleged in a federal search warrant application that the three offenders recruited minors and advertised them online to solicit sex for money. The search warrant alleges that the ring operated out of an apartment and various motels around Lansing, and provided the minors with alcohol and drugs and profited from the enterprise.
Identity disclosure and loss of employment are consequences of buying sex in the county. For example, in March 2016, a Michigan prosecutor resigned from office after being charged with hiring prostituted women “hundreds of times” and paying for sex with a woman who wanted help in a child custody dispute. The Ingham County Prosecutor took a medical leave of absence until his effective resignation date and said he would not run for re-election that year. He didn’t give details in the letter about medical issues. The 63-year-old man had been the elected Democratic prosecutor in Michigan’s capital area for nearly 20 years. He was charged with using the services of prostitutes, enticing a woman to become a prostitute, and willful neglect of duty. The case developed from tips during a federal human-trafficking investigation.
Officials have also been known to arrest sex buyers as the result of citizen complaints to police. For example, in March 2016, a U.S. Army National Guard staff sergeant sent explicit messages to an 18-year-old East Lansing woman. In May 2016, the woman, a sex trafficking survivor, tired of the explicit photos he sent her and attempts to solicit sex in exchange for money, reported the staff sergeant to an Ingham County Sheriff’s Office detective, asking for help. With the woman’s cooperation and in partnership with the FBI, the Sheriff’s Office lured the man to a Delhi Township hotel. There, he was arrested by undercover officials with $55 in cash and a bag of sex toys. In the four years in which Lansing-area police reports on prostitution cases were reviewed by the State Journal, this case was reportedly the first in which a victim/survivor brought a sex buyer to police attention.
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
Loss of Employment, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.woodtv.com/news/prosecutor-resigns-over-prostitution-charges (2016)
- https://www.detroitnews.com/ingham-county-prosecutor-dunnings-plans-resign (2016)
- https://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/prosecutor_charged_with_multiple (2016)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: