Lane County, OR

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Lane County is located in Western Oregon, along the Interstate 5 corridor. Roughly half of its population of about 363,000 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 women serving in prostitution. 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 john 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 began arresting johns as a strategy for reducing prostitution and related crimes in the area, much earlier than most US cities. The city passed an ordinance in 1973 that held the customers of prostitution just as responsible as prostituted persons, and police adapted their enforcement tactics accordingly.

Reverse sting operations were initiated in 1975, and also began publishing the names of the arrested johns that same year. In July 2014, EPD officers expanded the strategy to target johns soliciting sex online. In just under six hours, six men were arrested after responding to decoy advertisements. One of the ads claimed to be an underage girl looking for companionship, the other a 27-year-old female. All six of the arrestees were charged with prostitution; the two individuals who solicited what they thought was an underage girl were also charged with Online Sexual Corruption of a Minor. All of the men’s names were released to the public.

In August 2017, a web based operation focused on apprehending those seeking to buy sex with children. Three men were arrested in the human trafficking and child prostitution sting conducted by Eugene police. A detective posing as a 15-year-old girl posted an advertisement online and received a text message from the suspects, who set up meetings with the detective at a hotel on Franklin Boulevard.  Charges included 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.Johns convicted in the county may receive visible community service as a way of revealing their actions to the public as well as having offenders give something back to the community to offset some of the damage caused by prostitution and the crimes it attracts and generates.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:

Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:

Shaming:

Background on local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

State Oregon
Type County
Population 362895
Location
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