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Kearney is the county seat of Buffalo County, Nebraska. The city’s population is approximately 31,000. It is located in the south-central region of the state, along the Interstate 80 corridor. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city and other areas of Buffalo County for years, and generate a wide range of additional local crimes, such as drug offenses, child sex trafficking, sexual assault, child endangerment, and sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state criminal codes). For example, in May, 2012, two people were arrested and jailed after an investigation involving the forced prostitution of a 14-year old girl. The Nebraska State Patrol said investigators probed an ad on Craigslist that offered “female companionship” in the Kearney area. On April 26, an Upland woman offered an undercover officer the services of a teenage girl. The woman was arrested. Authorities said a search of the woman’s home turned up computers and other electronics, which led investigators to a man who was then was arrested at his home in Omaha. Both were held in the Buffalo County Jail. The woman’s name was being withheld to protect the identity of the teenage victim. The man was charged with first-degree sexual assault of a child, and the woman with conspiracy to commit sexual assault of a child and “child pornography.” In November, 2012, a mother has been found guilty after making a plea deal in a child prostitution case. She was charged with nine felony counts — including five counts of visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct by a minor, two counts of human trafficking and two counts of child abuse — but changed her plea to ‘no contest’ to avoid possible federal charges and additional charges in four other counties where the crimes occurred. She was accused of selling her 14- and 7-year-old daughters into prostitution on Craigslist. Police say she placed a personal ad on the website, offering female companionship in the Kearney area, then offered the sexual services of her teen daughter to an undercover officer posing as a man answering the ad. Police also say she arranged for multiple men to sexually assault her 7-year-old daughter on several occasions. The had three of her children taken away from her and placed in protective custody.
Among the efforts to combat the negative impacts of the local commercial sex trade have been the implementation of tactics designed to curb demand for commercial sex. For example, in August, 2021, Nebraska law enforcement officials conducted three sex trafficking operations as part of Operation United Front, a joint venture of 12 Midwest states. Among other arrests, a man was arrested for seeking to purchase sex acts with a 15-year-old girl who was actually an undercover police officer. Agencies participating included Nebraska State Patrol, Scottsbluff Police Department, Kearney Police Department, Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office, South Sioux City Police Department, Sioux City Police Department, Omaha Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, Omaha FBI Field Office, and Nebraska Attorney General’s Office. The operations were conducted in three locations – Scottsbluff, Kearney, and South Sioux City.
Three people were arrested in Kearney for solicitation of prostitution during a multi-state human trafficking operation, and their identitities were included in local new releases. The men were booked into the Buffalo County Jail for misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution charge. One was also arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance. In August, 2021, investigators with the Kearney Police Department, Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office, and Nebraska State Patrol conducted an undercover human trafficking operation to target and identify individuals soliciting prostitution in the Kearney area. “This operation once again shows the effective work law enforcement can do when we collaborate toward the same goal. We know human trafficking may cross multiple jurisdictions and states, by working together on operations like this we can fight human trafficking more effectively,” said Kearney Police Chief Bryan D. Waugh In December, 2021, two of the arrested men were convicted of soliciting prostitution in Kearney. One of the men pleaded no contest in Buffalo County Court to felony possession of methamphetamine and solicitation of prostitution, a misdemeanor. Earlier in December he had been sentenced to 18 months probation “under the standard conditions,” including that he serve 61 days in jail, pay a $500 fine, attend the 12-Step Recovery Program twice a week and not to view or possess any type of pornography. In January, 2022 the third man was convicted of solicitation of prostitution, and subject to a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine. In February, 2022, another one of the defendants was forbidden from viewing pornography as part of his sentence for soliciting prostitution in Kearney in August 2021. The order was part of a one-year probationary sentence, and the Buffalo County Court Judge Gerry Jorgensen ordered the man to serve 16 days in jail (and was given 16 days credit for time served).
Not all arrests of sex buyers in Kearney are the result of police decoy operations, but are the result of investigating allegations of offenses agains real victims. For example, in September, 2021, a Kearney man was arrested and later charged with soliciting prostitution from someone under the age of 18. The Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office received a report that a 17-year-old girl was being offered money for sex. The sheriff’s office was able to acquire the text messages between the man and the girl. A sheriff’s deputy contacted the suspect at his residence and made the arrest.
Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred within the city. For example, in August, 2016, a Kearney man resigned from his position at the University of Nebraska at Kearney after being one of 12 men arrested last month in connection with sex trafficking. The sex buyer was arrested in July at a Lincoln hotel on suspicion of soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor. He is accused of meeting a woman at a Lincoln hotel for sex, according to the Lincoln Police Department public information officer. However, the woman was an undercover police officer. The arrest was part of the National Johns Suppression Initiative aimed at reducing sex trafficking. The sex buyer had been the chair of the Military Science Department and was employed by the ROTC to teach military classes at UNK since December 2014. He resigned his position in August. In Lincoln, seven people, including the UNK employee, were arrested on suspicion of solicitation of prostitution and four on suspicion of prostitution. The man had also been a nurse’s assistant at Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society in Kearney. He was a second lieutenant with the Nebraska National Guard in Lincoln where he was the patient administration officer in charge.
- Kearney Police Department
- Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office
- Nebraska State Patrol
- University of Nebraska at Kearney
Web Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.ksnblocal4.com/kpd-arrest-three-during-multi-state-human-trafficking-operation/ (2021)
- https://www.cityofkearney.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=4786 (2021)
- https://kearneyhub.com/men-arrested-in-kearney-in-undercover-human-trafficking-operation (2021)
- https://starherald.com/area-agencies-participating-in-undercover-sex-trafficking-operation (2021)
- https://www.newschannelnebraska.com/multistate-human-trafficking-operation-over-100-arrests (2021)
- http://sandhillsexpress.com/multistate-human-trafficking-operation-leads-to-over-100-arrests-including-one-in-nebraska/ (2021)
- https://siouxlandnews.com/arrests-made-after-several-agencies-conduct-sex-trafficking-operation (2021)
- https://kearneyhub.com/men-convicted-of-soliciting-prostitution-in-kearney (2021)
- https://kearneyhub.com/two-men-convicted-of-soliciting-prostitution-in-kearney-trial-set-for-third-man (2021)
- https://www.1011now.com/holdrege-man-sentenced-sex-trafficking-case/ (2022)
- https://central.newschannelnebraska.com/holdrege-man-sentenced-in-sextrafficking-case (2022)
- https://www.ksnblocal4.com/pleasanton-man-sentenced-sex-trafficking-case/ (2022)
- https://kearneyhub.com/man-gets-probation-pleasanton-man-convicted-soliciting-prostitution-kearney (2022)
- https://www.ksnblocal4.compleasanton-man-gets-probation-fine-sex-trafficking-case/ (2022)
Arrest of Sex Buyers, Identity Disclosure:
- https://nebraska.tv/kearney-man-luis-borjon-marquez-with-soliciting-prostitution-from-teen (2021)
- https://www.midnebraskascanner.com/kearney-man-arrested-for-solicitation-of-prostitution-of-a-minor (2021)
Sex Buyer Fired or Resigned Due to Arrest:
Background on Sex Trafficking, Prostitution, Related CSAM, Assault, Drug Offenses, Child Endangerment in the Area:
- https://www.ketv.com/article/arrests-made-in-child-prostitution-case (2012)
- https://lexch.com/news/state_region/two-arrested-in-prostitution-case-involving-teen (2012)
- https://omaha.com/news/5th-man-convicted-in-child-prostitution-case (2013)
- https://www.foxnews.com/us/nebraska-mom-pleads-no-contest-in-child-prostitution (2014)
- https://rapidcityjournal.com/nebraska-mom-accused-of-prostituting-daughters-7-and-14 (2014)
- https://www.wvlt.tv/12-state-human-trafficking-operation-nets-rescues-47-victims/ (2021)
- https://kearneyhub.com/news/local/ex-ravenna-man-convicted-of-sexual-assault-child-porn (2022)
- https://nebraska.tv/sentenced-to-prison-child-porn-charge-buffalo-county-district-court (2022)