Issaquah is a city of about 33,000 residents located in the greater Seattle metro area of Washington State. The Issaquah Police Department has received complaints from residents about prostitution in the city, including reports of massage parlors serving as fronts for brothels, and one call from a mother who learned her 15-year-old daughter may be selling sex (and if so, is a victim of sex trafficking). For example, in June 2013, the Issaquah Police Department arrested a 44-year-old woman for prostitution at a massage parlor on Newport Way Northwest. Citizens raised concerns about the business’ suggestive advertisements during the police investigation. The arrest came after the Issaquah Police Department, in conjunction with the Bellevue Police Department and the King County Sheriff’s Office, conducted surveillance and undercover operations at the business. Officers served a warrant to search the business for investigation of prostitution, promoting prostitution and money laundering.
While the city has not (to our knowledge) conducted a traditional reverse sting, the IPD has taken a proactive approach to identify and potentially arrest men who are known to have contacted a 15-year-old girl who was allegedly engaged in prostitution. We have listed Issaquah as a “reverse sting” site so that it appears in our mapping, but recognize that their attempts to arrest sex buyers are not traditional operations using police decoys. Similar situations have occurred in at least three other sites on DemandForum: Kennebunk, Maine; Medora, North Dakota; and Dillon, Colorado.
In November 2013, Issaquah police detectives had been trying to identify and locate dozens of men who may have sexually exploited an underage girl. The investigation started in September, when an Issaquah mother found images of her teenage daughter in the shower along with sexually explicit text messages on the girl’s cellphone. The mother also found that her daughter had been selling her used underwear on Craigslist through two Google Gmail accounts, and that the girl often met with the male buyers to exchange the underwear for money. Police documents indicate the girl was in contact with at least 35 adult men and had sent nude photographs of herself to many of them. Detectives believe the girl may also have “engaged in prostitution” with the men, which is why investigators hoped to uncover the buyers’ identities. If identified, they could be charged with multiple felonies, including rape of a child, dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, communication with a minor for immoral purposes, human trafficking, and other offenses.
- Issaquah Police Department
- Using a Client List to Pursue Sex Buyers:
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Authorities Charge Man with Forcing Issaquah Runaway to Work as Prostitute”, Issaquah Press, April 6 2010.
- “Issaquah Girl Investigated for Prostitution, Police Looking for ‘Johns'”, CBS/KIRO-TV 7, November 7 2013.
- “Police: Issaquah Girl Teen May Have Sold Sex, Used Underwear Online”, CBS/KIRO-TV 7, November 7 2013.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Woman Arrested for Prostitution in Issaquah Massage Parlor”, Sammamish-Issaquah Patch, June 28 2013.
- “Issaquah, Bellevue Police Nab Woman for Prostitution”, Issaquah Press, July 2 2013.
- https://www.issaquahwa.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=413&ARC=938 (2013)
- https://www.seattlepi.com/local/crime/article/Very-well-connected-Massage-parlor-sting (2019)