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Marshalltown is a city in and the county seat of Marshall County, Iowa. It is located along the Iowa River in Central Iowa, about 50 miles northwest of Des Moines, and has a population of about 27,000. Cases of prostitution have occurred in the city, and police and community groups have invested in establishing local ordinances and conducting training to address these problems. For example, in March 2019, a local group began working to help the public recognize signs of human trafficking. L.A.S.T. Watch (Labor and Sex Trafficking), Marshalltown’s human trafficking watchdog group, partnered with the Marshalltown Police Department and Marshall County Sheriff’s Office to release a new awareness card for distribution to local businesses in Marshall County. The L.A.S.T. Watch Chairperson said the group earmarked 47 local businesses to give the card and accompanying letter in the hotel/motel, fast food, and gas station industries. The card’s objectives were to train employees working with the public to see signs of human trafficking in victims and perpetrators and to provide guidance on what to do when human trafficking is suspected.
Sex buyers have been arrested in the city, and their identities have been publicly disclosed. For example, in March 2021, an investigation into a theft developed into a prostitution charge. A man and a woman were arrested and charged with prostitution. The police filing stated that the woman engaged in a sex act in exchange for money for gasoline, an act to which the man admitted. Prostitution charges were filed due to the theft investigation, and police said that if the latter had not occurred, the prostitution charges would not have followed. The identities of the arrested individuals were publicly disclosed.
In February 2022, the Marshalltown Police Department (MPD) arrested a man on a charge of interfering with official acts at a residence on West Church Street. The man allegedly pushed himself between a police officer and another suspect, telling the officer to take him instead. Subsequently, a previous warrant was served against the man for a prostitution charge in connection with an incident that allegedly occurred in October 2020. According to the prior complaint, the suspect offered the alleged victim $40 to perform a sex act, and when the victim refused, he is then alleged to have pointed a knife at the victim and told her she could not leave. He eventually relented and allowed her to leave, but then threw the knife at the victim as she was fleeing the residence. In addition to the prostitution charge, which constitutes an aggravated misdemeanor, the man also faced charges of assault while displaying a dangerous weapon, an aggravated misdemeanor, and false imprisonment, a serious misdemeanor, in connection with the 2020 incident.
- Marshalltown Police Department
Arrest of Sex Buyers, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.timesrepublican.com/2-arrested-for-prostitution/ (2021)
- https://www.newsbreak.com/2-arrested-for-prostitution (2021)
- https://www.timesrepublican.com/warrant-served-for-prostitution-solicitation/ (2022)
- https://www.kcrg.com/marshalltown-man-arrested-after-tuesday-night-shooting-incident/ (2022)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- http://www.thesmokinggun.com/good-time-call (2009)
- https://qctimes.com/27-people-charged-in-undercover-prostitution-sting (2012)
- https://muscatinejournal.com/woman-arrested-in-prostitution-sting-now-faces-other-charges (2012)
- https://marshalltown-ia.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda (2018)
- https://www.kcrg.com/Marshalltown-goup-using-cards-to-raise-awareness-of-human-trafficking (2019)
- https://www.weareiowa.com/marshall-county-cracking-down-on-human-trafficking (2019)
Local Prostitution Ordinances: