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Lebanon is a city in Linn County that has a population of approximately 19,000 residents. The city is located in northwest Oregon, southeast of the state capital, Salem. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city and surrounding area for decades. This activity and its ancillary crimes have generated citizen complaints to police. Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.
In effort to reduce instances of prostitution and sex trafficking in the city, various demand reduction tactics have been implemented such as reverse stings and public disclosure of identities. The first known street-level reverse sting operation where an undercover female officer posed as a prostituted person to arrest male sex buyers occurred in 1978. The identities and images of arrested sex buyers are frequently included in reports by local media outlets.
Sex buyers have also been apprehended through alternative investigations by local law enforcement or as the result of citizen reports to police. For example, in 1979, a 35-year-old Lebanon man was arrested for soliciting prostitution after allegedly soliciting sex acts from a female hitchhiker he picked up along the highway. The woman reportedly told police that after asking the offender for a ride, he attempted to solicit sex acts from her in exchange for money. The sex buyer’s identity was included in reports by local media outlets. In 2005, a Lebanon man was arrested on four counts of soliciting prostitution. The sex buyer’s arrest was the result of a two year investigation into the offender by local law enforcement. The offender would approach women at parks in both Lebanon and Albany the offender attempting to solicit sex acts from women in exchange for money. According to police, the over the course of the two year investigation, offender had approached multiple women at parks in both Lebanon and Albany.
Loss of employment is also a consequence of buying sex that has occurred in the city. For example, in February, 2012, a doctor at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital submitted his resignation after The Oregonian reported on a court case in which he testified he sexually exploited a 17-year-old girl in exchange for money. The offender lived in Portland but worked as an emergency room physician at the 25-bed Lebanon hospital. The CEO of the hospital told the Democrat-Herald that the sex buyer had been a full-time physician but added it is Samaritan Health Services’ policy not to provide specifics regarding former employees. Investigators said the man had given the girl gifts including a Macintosh laptop computer, $10,000 to $15,000 in cash and a key to his Portland condominium. The man told police he thought the girl was 19 and he was trying to help her. He cooperated with the investigation without immunity and testified during a trial held in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and the man could face charges.
Sex Buyer Arrests:
Loss of Employment, Identity Disclosure:
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area: