Lucas 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

Lucas County, Ohio is bordered on the east by Lake Erie, and on the southeast by the Maumee River. Its population is about 429,000 residents, and its county seat is Toledo. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified by law enforcement as substantial problems in the county, and residents have complained to police about prostitution in certain communities. Among the crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are the homicide of prostituted persons and others associated with this activity. For example, a man was found guilty of killing one prostituted woman and raping another in 2000. A serial killer admitted in 2006 to killing five prostituted women around the city, and police connected him with at least two other similar murders. HIV positive prostituted persons are known to have continued trading sex in Toledo after their diagnosis, and local prostituted women have been kidnapped (and jumped out of moving vehicles to escape) and assaulted.

The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office has also conducted demand-reduction operations in the Toledo and Springfield Township areas. For example, in January 2020, the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office arrested 14 people on drug and prostitution charges in a human trafficking operation in Springfield Township. The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with the Wood County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force on the operation. Those arrested were charged with a variety of offenses, including soliciting and drug-related charges.

The Toledo Police Department was among the first in the country to implement the use of street-level reverse stings in 1975; operations have been routinely conducted using one or more undercover female officers as decoys. As men attempt to solicit sex from the women, they are apprehended by police. Once arrested, buyers might have their vehicles seized and impounded, as per a city ordinance established in 1991. As a warning to other would-be sex buyers, the TPD has also released arrestees’ names and other identifying information to the local media.

John School – “First Offender Prostitution Program – Lucas County”:

Local sex trafficking cases also helped spur the creation of a “john school” program in 2010. Led by the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, the Prostitution Offender Program of Lucas County was a diversion program limited to sex buyers without prior prostitution-related offenses. In exchange for completing the daylong course, which included presentations from local law enforcement, public health officials, and former prostituted women, first-time offenders could have their cases “sealed.” The program began in 2013, and as of 2018, the john school was still operating and was named “First Offender Prostitution Program – Lucas County.” The fee paid by arrested sex buyers was $300, and the program incurred no cost to taxpayers. Participants were required to attend a one-time class and remain free from reoffending for one year in order to receive a lesser penalty. Men who attended were taught the following:

  • Health risks associated with prostitution
  • Connection between commercial sex and human trafficking
  • Legal consequences
  • Encouraged to explore the psycho-social reasons they paid for sex

Key Partners

  • Lucas County Sheriff’s Office
  • Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition
  • Second Chance
  • Toledo Police Department
  • FBI Child Exploitation Task Force

Key Sources

John School:

Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

Neighborhood Action:

Public Education:

Auto Seizure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Ohio
Type County
Population 429191
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