Lorain County, OH

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

Lorain County is located in northeastern Ohio within the ClevelandElyria Metropolitan Statistical Area, and has a population of approximately 309,000 residents. Its county seat is Elyria. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in April 2013, an online prostitution ring was dismantled by the Elyria Police Department, resulting in the arrests of a father, son, and a woman. One defendant was charged with promoting prostitution and compelling prostitution, and another was charged with compelling prostitution. The pair had orchestrated a prostitution ring on a website where they advertised a woman under their control who would provide sex for money, according to a police statement. The arrests came about in response to citizens complaining to police about the website.

In July 2013, two people from Lorain County were charged with human trafficking involving four victims. The indictment accused the pair of giving the victims, which included a minor, a substance containing heroin and cocaine, telling them that they had an outstanding drug debt to pay back. The offenders then sex trafficked victims in order to pay-off their “debts.” After some investigative work, authorities discovered that the pair had posted “escort” advertisements for the female victims online. They used narcotics to gain control over their victims and sex trafficked them to produce profits for defendants. In 2015, a prostitution sting in the city of Lorain led to the arrest of four women, all charged with loitering to engage in solicitation.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office and Elyria Police Department have collaborated in order to conduct reverse sting operations. For example, in December 2002, the Elyria Police Department and Lorain County Sheriff’s Department arrested and charged 35 individuals with solicitation during a two-day street-level reverse sting. Numerous citizen complaints fueled the decision to set up the sting, which was paid for with grant money. Police used four undercover female officers in two target areas. Undercover agents outfitted with electronic transmitting devices were used as decoys and were monitored by detectives at all times. Anyone who approached the undercover officers during the two six-hour shifts and initiated conversations relative to sexual activity was arrested. Convicted individuals faced up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were publicly released.

In March 2021, a joint operation in conjunction with the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office and the regional human trafficking task force was conducted at a local motel and resulted in the arrests of at least one sex buyer who was charged with soliciting prostitution.

In October 2021, an Elyria City Councilman was one of 161 sex buyers arrested and charged as the result of a statewide reverse sting, “Operation Ohio Knows,” overseen by the Ohio Attorney General. The Elyria Police Department assisted in the operation and arrested 14 sex buyers. The city councilman had arranged for paid sex through online communications, agreeing to pay $60 for 30 minutes, and confessed to soliciting prostitution after his arrest. The man was charged with misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution and was given a summons to appear in court at a later date. In December the man was found guilty after he pleaded no contest to the third-degree misdemeanor charge, and was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and pay a $250 fine. He did not resign from the city council because there was an election in five weeks in which voters would have a say. However, the man was defeated in the November election for the 3rd Ward councilman position. He was also placed on leave as a part-time choral director at Lorain County Community College.

In September, 2022, authorities charged multiple people during a human trafficking and prostitution operation at an Amherst motel. The Amherst Police Department and the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Investigative Unit conducted a joint enforcement operation which focused on suspected human trafficking and prostitution activity. During the operation, officers and investigators interviewed several people at a motel located on N. Leavitt Road who had arrived seeking prostitution services. The men arrived and met with an undercover police officer posing as an adult female in prostitution. In addition to soliciting prostitution, the men were charged with possession of criminal tools in regards to their vehicles, which facilitated them in the commission of an alleged crime. Each vehicle was towed from the scene. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were publicly disclosed.

Loss of employment is also a consequence of buying sex in the county. For example, in September of 2010, deputies from the Huron County Sheriff’s Office launched an undercover investigation targeting prostitution activity in the area, resulting in the arrest of two male sex buyers, each charged with soliciting prostitution, a third-degree misdemeanor. According to officials, the two arrestees were among “dozens” who responded to requests from an undercover agent posing as a prostituted woman on the same website used by the operation resulting in the first arrest. Both men had made appointments to meet with the prostituted woman at a Norwalk hotel, requesting sexual acts using props such as a dog cage, bowl, and collar, as well as masking tape, whips, and a rubber ruler. Deputies had surveillance set up in the motel room, along with the requested various bondage props. One of the arrested sex buyers was a coach employed at Firelands High School and a teacher employed at Lorain County Joint Vocational School in Oberlin, but taught online from the Firelands High School campus. As a result of his arrest, the sex buyer was initially placed on administrative leave until further investigation by his employers, but later resigned from both positions.

In response to a survey conducted in 2021 by the NCOSE team for a National Institute of Justice grant to update and expand Demand Forum (Grant #2020-75-CX-0011), representatives from the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office reported that they have also implemented the following tactics: public education, surveillance cameras (since 2020), neighborhood action (since 2020), and community service (since 2019).

Key Sources

2021 National Assessment II Survey

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Vehicle Seizure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Employment Loss:

Community Service:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

State Ohio
Type County
Population 309134
Comments are closed.