Johnston is a city in Polk County, Iowa, and has a population of about 17,500. It is part of the Des Moines–West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area, located near the center of the state. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities in Polk 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 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. For example, in October, 2012 the Mid Iowa Narcotics Task Force an undercover prostitution sting conducted at a hotel in Johnston. Four men were arrested when they answered an online ad, arrived at the hotel, and offered police decoys money for a sex act. They were charged with prostitution, which is an aggravated misdemeanor, and booked into the Polk County Jail in Des Moines. The following January, one of the men pleaded guilty to that charge in Polk County District Court. He received a deferred judgment, which means the criminal conviction will not appear on his criminal record. He was also ordered to pay a $625 civil penalty, serve one year of probation and complete 35 hours of community service.
- Mid Iowa Narcotics Task Force
- Polk County District Court
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Shaming, Community Service
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Region: