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Midlothian is an unincorporated area in Chesterfield County, VA, as a western suburb of Richmond, and has a population of approximately 67,000 residents. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in Midlothian and surrounding areas. Among the more serious issues associated with the commercial sex market in the area is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2016, a 46-year-old Richmond man was arrested on one count of sex trafficking children and with once count of enticing someone under the age of 16 to commit prostitution. According to court documents, investigators say the sex trafficker would wait for the teenage girl at her bus stop or pick her up in her neighborhood, drive to a hotel in Midlothian and sexually exploit her in exchange for money. In June of 2016, the sex trafficker was sentenced to 20 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to enticement of a minor and sex trafficking of children. He is also required to register as a sex offender once he is released from prison.
In effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex in the area, officials have been known to conduct street-level and web-based reverse sting operations. For example, in 2013, officials from the Chesterfield County Police, the Henrico County Police Division, the FBI, and ICE conducted a web-based reverse sting operation along the Midlothian Turnpike that resulted in the arrest of 26 individuals for solicitation of prostitution and various drug charges. Among the arrested offenders were a former Huguenot High School teacher and employees from the Richmond International Airport and the Defense Logistics Agency. As a result of the former teacher’s arrest, the school immediately placed the sex buyer on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. In addition, Lt. Pete Cimbal of Chesterfield Police reported that officials made calls to the Richmond International Airport and the Defense Logistics Agency regarding employees based out of their groups who were also arrested.
Shaming and loss of employment are also consequences of buying sex in the city. For example, in 2015, a former Midlothian pastor and one of the founders of KingsWay Community Church was arrested during a web-based reverse sting operation. Police documents on file in Chesterfield County General District Court indicate that the sex buyer and the undercover female detective made contact on a website known for prostitution, Backpage.com. The two agreed to meet at a local LaQuinta Hotel. According to a transcript of text messages between the sex buyer and the undercover detective, the sex buyer indicated he was seeking a “massage.” The undercover detective replied that she did not do massages, to which the sex buyer texted back, “‘That’s OK. I’ll be there in 5 min.’” After arriving at the designated room at the hotel, the former pastor and the undercover detective agreed upon the price of $60 in exchange for sex acts. The two then discussed various sexual acts and how they could begin to engage in the encounter, in which an addition detective confronted the former pastor and placed him under arrest. The sex buyer resigned as lead pastor after being found guilty of soliciting a prostitute in July of 2015. In addition, on the “Blog” section of the church’s website, the interim pastor announced the former lead pastor’s resignation on August 9th, 2015.
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- https://www.wtvr.com/2016/06/20/stephen-callis-sentence/ (2016)
- https://www.13newsnow.com/article/news/local/virginia/man-indicted-in-sex-trafficking-of-richmond-area-girl/33071911 (2016)
Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- https://www.nbc12.com/story/21828841/26-arrested-in-undercover-prostitution-operation-on-midlothian-turnpike/ (2013)
- https://amp.sj-r.com/amp/36492580007 (2013)
- https://www.nbc12.com/story/28192894/richmond-fbi-nabs-three-in-chesterfield-prostitution-sting/ (2015)
Sex Buyer Fired and/or Resigned Due to Arrest:
- http://www.brentdetwiler.com/brentdetwilercom/gene-emerson-former-regional-leader-for-sgm-found-guilty-for.html (2015)
- https://www.chesterfieldobserver.com/articles/midlo-pastor-found-guilty-of-soliciting-prostitution/ (2015)
- Virginia Uniform Summons – Midlothian Pastor (2015)
- http://thewartburgwatch.com/2015/08/12/another-day-another-sgm-sex-scandal-kingsway-pastor-resigns-due-to-lapse-in-judgment/ (2015)