Lane County, OR

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

Lane County is located in Western Oregon, along the Interstate 5 corridor. Roughly half of its population of about 383,000 resides in the county seat of Eugene, the second largest city in Oregon. Commercial sex is well documented in the central city, and in the surrounding towns and unincorporated areas. Among the more serious problems associated with commercial sex in the area include child sex trafficking. Visible prostitution activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses.

The sex-trafficking of minors is reportedly common within the county. Detective Curtis Newell won the 2010 National Exploited Children’s Award for his work in uncovering a prostitution ring operating in the county, that consisted mostly of underage girls. In the fall of 2011, a man was tried for trafficking two teenage girls, and the investigation led to uncovering over 100 local girls and prostituted women. In March 2014, two local men were charged with sex trafficking a minor after an EPD officer, working with the support of the FBI, posed as a male sex buyer and arranged to meet the underage female for commercial sex at a nearby motel. Following their arrest, the 16-year-old female reportedly told authorities that “she generally gave [the men] all of the money she made working as a prostitute” and that least one of the men knew she was underage, and “yelled at her to control her… she was afraid of him.”

To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking. The Eugene Police Department has been arresting male sex buyers as a strategy for reducing prostitution and related crimes in the area since 1973 – notably, much earlier than most US cities. The city passed an ordinance in 1973 that held sex buyers equally as responsible as prostituted persons, and police adapted their enforcement tactics accordingly. Reverse sting operations and public identity disclosure of arrested sex buyers were initiated in 1975. As part of sentencing, arrested sex buyers are frequently required to pay a fine in addition to completing community service hours. For example, a 1975 a street-level reverse sting operation resulted in the arrest and citation of 15 male sex buyers who had allegedly approached an undercover female officer in attempt to solicit her for sex. In addition to arrests, the identities of all 15 men were released by police. During these types of operations, police have been known to use audio and video surveillance as a form of evidence of the interactions between officers and suspected sex buyers or sex traffickers/pimps.

In addition to street-level reverse sting operations, web-based reverse sting operations have also been conducted in the city since at least 2014, if not earlier. For example, in July 2014, EPD officers expanded demand reduction strategies to include targeting sex buyers soliciting sex online by conducting an online operation that resulted in the arrest of six male sex buyers in just under six hours. All six men had responded to decoy advertisements posted online by undercover Eugene police officers. One of the decoy ads was of an adult 27-year-old female and the other decoy ad claimed to be an underage girl looking for companionship, in which two of the arrested offenders responded to. All six arrestees were charged with prostitution and the two individuals who had responded to the minor decoy ad were also charged with Online Sexual Corruption of a Minor. The identities of arrested offenders were released to the public.

In August 2017, a web-based operation focused on apprehending individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money resulted in the arrest of three men. According to reports, an undercover detective posing as a 15-year-old girl posted an advertisement online who then communicated with respondents online and arranged to meet with suspected offenders at a hotel on Franklin Boulevard. Upon arriving to the agreed upon location, the men were arrested by Eugene police officers on numerous charges including first-degree online sexual corruption of a child, promoting prostitution, and a warrant for a parole violation. Eugene police declined to release the names of the hotels where the sting took place, but did release the identities of the arrested men. According to police, web-based operations are routinely conducted as the majority of commercial sex is occurs online. In addition, numerous law enforcement agencies in the county are participants of the FBI’s annual child sex trafficking investigation, Operation Cross Country. These operations seek to apprehend sex traffickers and sex buyers, in addition to rescuing child sex trafficking victims across the country. Participants in Lane County have included the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, the Eugene Police Department, and the Springfield Police Department.

In March, 2019, Eugene PD detectives worked a web-based reverse sting regarding commercial sexual exploitation of children. A man from Springfield responded to a posting made by the detective and the “girl” identified herself as age 12.  Investigators set up a date to meet the ‘girl’ near a designated location in the Eugene area, and when the man arrived he was contacted by detectives with the assistance of the Eugene Police Street Crime Unit and placed under arrest for Online Sexual Corruption of a Child and Possession of a Firearm (handgun), which was located at the time of arrest.

In February, 2021 a Eugene Police Department Special Investigations detective conducted a web-based reverse sting for child sex trafficking, and posed online as a teenaged girl. Two men responded separately to the posting and made an agreement to meet the “girl” who identified herself as age 15, and then was arrested when they arrived up at the designated meeting location. The men, 53 and 58 years of age, responded to the undercover ad and solicited the “15-year-old girl” for sexual abuse (one also sent pornographic images of himself) and were charged for Online Sexual Corruption of a Child in the First degree.

John School

Since 2012, arrested sex buyers in Lane County can be sentenced to terms of probation, incarceration in Lane County Jail, and may receive reduced jail terms if eligible to serve in an alternative program, where they are required to take an eight-hour Sex Buyer Accountability class ran by LifeWorks NorthWest in Multnomah County. There have been two previous programs fitting within the general “john school” concept. While there is not a john school program in Lane County, sex buyers from the county have been allowed to participate in the Sex Buyers Accountability Program as a part of their sentencing. For example, in October 2016, a local priest and professor was arrested for allegedly soliciting a minor online for sex. According to reports, Eugene detectives were informed about the sex buyer after arresting an underage girl for prostitution in the summer of 2016. As a result of the investigation, the sex buyer was arrested and charged with purchasing sex with a minor, sexual misconduct, patronizing a prostitute, endangering the welfare of a minor, unlawful possession of cocaine, and using a minor in a controlled substance offense. In 2017, prior to the trial, the felony drug charge was dropped after a hair follicle test dating back a year and a half was clean of all drug residue. In addition, according to a prosecuting attorney on the case the other felony charges relating to the sexual solicitation of a minor were dropped as well, “Other charges referencing endangerment of a minor require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the witness was under the age of 18 and although testimony revealed some such evidence, it did not rise to that level.” Upon conclusion of the trial, the offender was found guilty on three counts of prostitution — misdemeanors in Oregon that don’t require registration as a sex offender, but not guilty for all of the other charges. The man was sentenced to three years’ probation, 90 days of incarceration in Lane County Jail, 60 of which he was eligible to serve in an alternative program, such as community service, and was required to take an eight-hour Sex Buyer Accountability class ran by LifeWorks NorthWest in Multnomah County. As a result of his arrest, the sex buyer was suspended from all duties at the St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church and was fired from his teaching position at Northwest Christian University (NCU). More information about the Sex Buyers Accountability Diversion Program (SBAD) is available on the Multnomah County, OR and Portland, OR site pages.

SOAP Orders

In 2000, the city of Eugene implemented SOAP (stay out of areas of prostitution) Orders, prohibiting both sex buyers and prostituted persons from visiting areas with known prostitution activity, and/or the vicinity of their arrest. The SOAP Orders were modeled after the Portland, OR ordinance that excludes a person for a period of ninety (90) days from the public streets, alleys, sidewalks and other public ways in all prostitution-free zones.

Eugene SOAP Order:

Shortly after the city of Eugene implemented SOAP Orders, the city of Springfield passed a similar ordinance in 2002, prohibiting both sex buyers and prostituted persons from visiting areas with known prostitution activity, and/or the vicinity of their arrest. In 2001, officers conducted a street-level reverse sting operation in the city’s prostitution and drug free zone, that resulted in the arrest of nine male sex buyers for soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor. If found guilty, the convicted sex buyers would be banned from returning to the downtown area for up to a year and if caught in the area during that period, could be arrested for trespassing.

Springfield SOAP Order:

Key Partners

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

John School, Loss of Employment, Identity Disclosure:

Identity Disclosure:

Community Service:

SOAP Orders/Exclusion Ordinance:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

State Oregon
Type County
Population 383189
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