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Mansfield is a city of approximately 47,000 residents located in north-central Ohio’s Richland County, midway between Columbus and Cleveland. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city, surrounding communities, and in other 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 sex trafficking.
To combat consumer-level demand, the METRICH task force, an investigative group of Metro-Richland County, has worked with Mansfield Police to target men soliciting prostituted women in the area. Street-level reverse stings have been conducted in the city since at least 2004, if not earlier, and have produced the arrests of several men. Following one operation resulting in the arrest of four sex buyers in 2007, two city employees arrested for buying sex were issued a summons and subsequently lost their jobs. In a reverse sting conducted in July 2013, two men were arrested, but police reported a far larger number of men stopped to have conversations with the decoy — possibly to assess whether the woman was a police officer — but left without making a deal to exchange sex for money.
In April and May 2015, the Ashland and Mansfield police departments launched a web-based prostitution operation in both cities that resulted in the arrest of 15 men and 15 women, using Internet advertisements and informants over a span of nearly a month. METRICH task-force officers from both departments divided the work of rounding up prostituted women and male sex buyers. Arrest warrants were issued from local courts and police mobilized to serve the warrants. Police investigators placed ads on multiple websites for “women seeking men” sex and companionship solicitation, and within two weeks of posting on the websites, officers received approximately 300 responses to the ads and 144 emails from men asking to schedule a meeting with the confidential informant for sex. After including a cellphone number in the advertisements within the final week and a half of the investigation, officers received 153 text messages seeking sexual activity. Officers investigated 15 men who responded to the advertisement. Of that group, 75 percent were city/county residents or currently working in the county, and the other 25 percent were from surrounding counties. Eleven of the warrants were executed successfully, two men turned themselves in, and two men were arrested while the operation was active. The identities of the men were publicly disclosed by police.
In the fall of 2015, the Mansfield News Journal reported that Mansfield Police had conducted multiple web-based sting operations in the community. The operations targeted both sex sellers and buyers. Details about the investigations — including the identities of those arrested — were not disclosed.
- Mansfield Police Department
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Police,” Mansfield News Journal, July 12 2004.
- “METRICH Task Force Targets Men in Area Prostitution Sting,” Mansfield News Journal, May 12 2006.
- “City Workers Lose Jobs in Prostitution Sting,” Mansfield News Journal, September 5 2007.
- “Two Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Mansfield News Journal, July 20 2013.
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- “Editorial: Efforts to Curb Prostitution Helping,” Mansfield News Journal, September 20 2015.
- https://otfca.net/metrich-prostitution-sweep-targets-15-women-15-men/ (2015)
- https://www.times-gazette.com/police-roll-out-prostitution-bust-in-ashland-and-mansfield (2015)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- https://www.richlandsource.com/sex-trafficking-meeting-aims-to-heighten-awareness (2016)
- https://www.richlandsource.com/metrich-bust-targets-prostitution-ring-possible-human-trafficking (2017)
- https://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/former-mansfield-priests-sex-trafficking-plea-deadline-extended (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Woman Failed to Show up for Trial,” Mansfield News Journal, November 4 2005.
- https://www.richlandsource.com/two-arrested-for-soliciting-prostitution (2013)
- “Parole Officer Who Used State-Issued Car to Pick up Prostitutes Loses Appeal,” Columbus Daily Reporter, January 8 2014.
- https://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/mansfield-massage-parlor-among-16-searched-state-prostitution-probe (2019)
- https://www.richlandsource.com/mansfield-massage-parlor-raided-after-7-county-prostitution-probe (2019)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Body Trail Prompts Fear of Serial Killer,” Columbus Dispatch, March 10 1991.
- “Inquiry Revived in the Deaths of Nine Prostitutes, Many Agencies in Task Force,” Akron Beacon Journal, March 31 1991.
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