Minot, ND

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Minot is a city of about 41,000 situated along Highway 2 in northern North Dakota.  Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented problems in the city, and appear to have increased substantially due to the rapid growth in population from the oil production boom in the Bakken region. At least three cases of sex trafficking, and physical assaults on prostituted women have also been documented in the city since 2009. For example, in February, 2018, a 28-year-old man was arrested and charged with beating and raping an 18-year-old woman who was working as a prostitute at a hotel in Minot. Police were called to the hotel hours after the alleged attack. The man had offered her more money for more time and she refused because he didn’t have the cash on him. The man then choked, beat, and raped the woman, and a medical exam corroborated the allegations. The alleged victim’s 18-year-old friend and co-worker was hiding in the bathroom during her encounter with the man and ran out of the room when she heard the other woman scream. The man escaped out a window after the victim’s friend came out of the bathroom, leaving behind his wallet.

In response to such crimes, the Minot Police Department has conducted several anti-prostitution operations, including at reverse stings. In February 2013 and February 2014, undercover operations in Minot led to the arrest of ten sex buyers; their names, ages and other identifying information were released to the public. In September 2014, officers expanded their arsenal of demand-reduction tactics when they conducted a web-based reversal at a local hotel (who offered their facilities and cooperation). Ten johns were arrested after replying to an online advertisement placed by police, and arriving to meet a female undercover officer for commercial sex. Following the operation, a representative with the MPD noted that the department would like to conduct more operations but have been constrained by limited resources. When asked by media outlets about the impetus for the sting, the officer stated:

“It’s market-driven, it’s supply and demand, and if there is not a demand, then hopefully ether won’t be a supply.”

In the weeks following the sting, MPD officers reported the operation owed its success to the department’s collaboration with the hotel who allowed law enforcement to stage the sting on its premises, as well as Minot’s Inn Keepers Association. In an interview with members of the press, the MPD noted that “the police department has a liaison that works with members of the Minot Inn Keepers Association, updating them on resources they can use, and helps them identify possibly solicitors who may be trying to use their hotels.” When asked about his facility’s participation, the hotel’s general manager commented:

“It’s for the city. For myself, I want the city to be seen in a positive way. We can go into other cities hit by this oil activity and they aren’t necessarily looked upon in a favorable way. I want Minot to be a travel destination.”

A “john school” program for arrested sex buyers was approved by the State Legislature in 2015, and was operational in February 2017.  The program is a one-day course provided by the Director of the criminal justice program at the University of Mary.  The john school can be used as a sentencing option for people convicted of soliciting prostitution, and features a panel of survivors, discussion of negative effects on the community, and legal and health risks buyers may face as offenders.  Courses can be offered in Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot and Watford City.  During the first six months following its establishment, nobody had has been sentenced to the john school, in part due to lack of awareness and due to under-investment in operations that produce arrestees that would populate the program. In the first half of 2018, 18 men arrested during prostitution stings in Bismarck would have been candidates for the program, but the Assistant City Attorney, who was prosecuting the cases, did not know it existed even though it had been approved by the Legislature in 2015 and ready-to-go in February 2017.  Presentations had been given at conferences for district judges and state’s attorneys, but not to the city-level staff who often handle Class B misdemeanors like the solicitation of prostitution.

Key Partners

  • Minot Police Department
  • Minot Inn Keepers Association
  • University of Mary
  • Ward County Jail
  • Ward County Sheriff’s Office

Key Sources

Reverse Stings with Shaming:

Neighborhood Action:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

John School:

State North Dakota
Type City
Population 41159
Location
Comments are closed.