Karns, TN

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Karns is a census-designated place in northwest Knox County, TN, with a population of approximately 3,500, and is located about 11 miles northwest of the center of Knoxville, TN.  Instances of prostitution have been documented in the city, and among the more serious issues associated with the area’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. The Knoxville Police Department routinely conducts operations targeting individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money in the city and surrounding communities.

In efforts to reduce commercial sex activity and its associated problems, various demand reduction tactics have been deployed in the community, such as neighborhood action. For example, in 1982, a community activist group, Concerned Oxmoor Hills Subdivision Residents, urged then-District Attorney General to close an “escort businesses” that had recently been established in the area. In total, 108 residents signed the group’s petition to remove the business from the area. Residents reported their concerns about the dehumanizing nature in which women were portrayed in the business’ advertisements in addition to the potential increase in criminal activity that would accompany the business’ establishment in the area.

Sex buyer identity disclosure and loss of employment are also consequences of buying sex in the area. For example, in 2016, the former children’s minister at Grace Baptist Church was one of 32 individuals arrested during the Knoxville Police Department’s web-based operation, “Operation Someone Like Me,” that focused on targeting individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. According to reports, the former children’s minister had responded to a Backpage.com ad via text message. The report says that the offender was made aware that there would be two girls present, one was 15 years old in which the former children’s minister agreed to pay $100 for a half hour with both girls. Undercover officials told the offender to go to a gas station on Merchants Road where he was informed on which hotel room he was to meet the girls. Reportedly, the former children’s minister, “removed his pants and then law enforcement took him into custody.” The former children’s minister was charged with human trafficking and patronizing prostitution. His identity and photo were included in reports by local media outlets. According to a statement from Grace Baptist Church, the church terminated the former children’s minister’s employment as a result of his arrest,

“The children’s pastor of Grace Baptist Church has been terminated as result of an arrest in a police sting related to prostitution and human trafficking. The actions of the children’s pastor for which he has been arrested were part of his life outside the church, and we have received no questions or concerns related to his conduct within the church or its ministries. The children’s pastor was hired two-and-a-half years ago. The church’s background check turned up no issues that indicate any previous problem. In fact, the children’s pastor in his application affirmed that he had no issues in his background of a criminal or other nature.”

Key Partners

State Tennessee
Type City
Population 3536
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