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Lake Forest Park is a city of approximately 13,500 residents in Washington state, located just north of Seattle in King County, WA. Prostitution in the city has generated complaints to police. Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.
According to police surveyed for the National Assessment in 2012, in effort to reduce the demand for prostititution, police have conducted reverse sting operations. In addition, police are able to issue “stay out of areas of prostitution” orders, barring convicted sex buyers from returning to areas with high rates of prostitution activity.
John School Programs
Additionally, there have been at least four known john school programs in King County. The first known john school in the county operated from 2006 to 2007, whereby sex buyers could avoid significant criminal charges if they paid a substantial enrollment fee, attended educational classes, and avoided re-arrest. The course, which included lectures from health professionals and formerly prostituted women, also addressed the growing presence of trafficking networks in the region. By discussing the long-term impacts of sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation on victims and their families, the program hoped to educate sex buyers about the potential consequences of purchasing commercial sex. The program was a one-day classroom experience modeled after the San Francisco First Offender Prostitution Program (FOPP). Although the program was not renewed beyond its pilot period, in 2015, a similar john school was launched in Seattle. In 2019, the program was transferred from the Organization for Prostitution Survivors (OPS) to the Lantern Project, and modified. Its description may be found here.
Buyer Beware Program
In 2014, the King County Prosecutor’s Office launched a new initiative designed to reduce the demand for prostitution, change the attitudes and behaviors of men arrested for patronization, and eliminate cultural acceptance of the purchase of sex. The Buyer Beware initiative is a partnership with eight police departments and city attorneys’ offices across King County that are shifting their emphasis to pursue sex buyers. The initiative is led by the Organization for Prostitution Survivors and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Participating community organizations include Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST), Stolen Youth, and Seattle Against Slavery. Participating law enforcement agencies include the King County Sheriff’s Office and the police departments of Seattle, Des Moines, Kent, Federal Way, Bellevue, and Renton.
Buyer Beware brings together local prosecuting authorities, community service organizations, and survivors to implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce demand for commercial sex and facilitate exit from prostitution. The Buyer Beware program model emphasizes prosecuting sex buyers and connecting prostituted people to services. The original goal in 2014 was to reduce demand for commercial sex by 20% in two years.
The program’s approach is essentially the “Nordic Model” or “Equality Model” which decriminalizes selling sex and criminalizes the actions of pimps and buyers, rather than the actions of prostituted persons. This model can be accomplished without changing prostitution law by making discretionary decisions not to arrest and prosecute prostituted or trafficked persons, even if selling sex remains illegal in state law and local ordinances. Additionally, the Buyer Beware program includes John Schools, neighborhood action, and public education. The key elements of the program are:
- Referring sex buyers to “Stopping Sexual Exploitation,” a comprehensive intervention program.
- Collecting fines from arrested sex buyers to fund services for prostituted people.
- Reducing arrests and prosecutions of prostituted persons in favor of referral to services.
- Expanding effective services to assist prostituted people in leaving the life.
- Forming an alliance of public and private employers committed to implementing policies and practices against sex buying.
- Educating high school and college students on the harms of commercial sexual exploitation.
- Conducting social media campaigns to educate young men on the harms of sex buying.
- Changing cultural norms surrounding the purchase of sex by involving a variety of community sectors, such as public health, education, business, media, and criminal justice.
The program planned to launch an online public education tool where advertisements “pop up” when sex buyers input certain terms into search engines. Although the mechanism for deploying these advertisements was not disclosed, when implemented the advertisements would “link to information about prostitution-related penalties and services for men who need help to stop buying sex.”
National Assessment Survey (2012)
Lake Forest Park Municipal Code for Prostitution:
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- “Everett Man Charged in Prostitution Case,” Everett Daily Herald, November 28 2007.
- “15 Arrested in Craigslist Prostitution Sting,” Seattle Times, August 12 2008.
- https://patch.com/washington/shoreline/shoreline-sex-offender-gets-10-years-for-sex-trafficking (2013)
- https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/washington-man-sentenced-ten-years-sex-trafficking (2013)
- “Lynnwood Couple Accused of Luring Teen Girls into Prostitution,” Seattle Times, January 8 2015.
- “Lynnwood Couple Sought by Redmond Police for Sex Trafficking, Prostitution,” Lynnwood Today, January 8 2015.
- “Couple Lures Girl into Working as a Prostitute by Claiming It Was for a Documentary,” Portland Oregonian, May 7 2015.
- https://www.chronline.com/stories/nine-massage-parlors-in-lakewood-tacoma-busted-in-prostitution-stings,44246 (2016)
- https://www.skagitbreaking.com/large-prostitution-ring-western-washington-busted-human-trafficking (2017)
- https://www.king5.com/crime/lynnwood-man-gets-33-years-for-luring-girls-women-into-prostitution (2018)