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The City of Leadville is a statutory city that is the county seat, the most populous community (pop. just over 2,700 at the 2020 U.S. Census), and the only incorporated municipality in Lake County, Colorado. Prostitution, sex trafficking, and related violence in the small community have been well documented for more than a century, dating back to the late 1800s when the town was known for its “red light district” serving gold miners and ranchers. Prostituted women “were constantly being written up for disturbing the peace, theft, and drunken brawling” among themselves. One brothel owner was accused of buying a baby from a poor woman, though she denied those claims and insisted she was simply helping a family in need. The same woman was reportedly the was the reason for a bar fight between two brothers, during which she was shot but survived.
At least one incident in the city involved the use of demand reduction tactics. In February, 2022, the former manager of a motel on U.S. 24 in Leadville was arrested for sex trafficking, soliciting for child prostitution and sexual assault. According to an incident report from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the man paid two juvenile girls to have sex with him at the motel. He faced a total of 13 charges, including pimping, pandering of a child, and sexual assault. A co-defendant faced similar charges. One defendant allegedly brought the girls to the motel from where they were staying in Denver. One of the girls said he forced her into sexual abuse. The men’s identities were included in news reports.
- Lake County Sheriff’s Office
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
Background on Local Prostitution, Related Crime:
- https://leadville.com/molly-may-leadvilles-most-famous-madam/ (1800s)
- https://www.amazon.com/My-Life-Whore-Biography-Madam/ (2015)
- https://www.leadvilletwinlakes.com/women-of-leadville-twinlakes-colorado/ (2022)