Montpelier, VT

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

Montpelier is the capital city of Vermont. It has a population of approximately 7,500 people, making it the smallest state capital in the United States.  It is located in Northern Vermont, 35 miles SE of Burlington, and serves as the government seat of Washington County.  Prostitution and sex trafficking are well documented problems throughout Vermont, including in Montpelier and other areas of Washington County.  For example, in May, 2011, police in Montpelier arrested a 23-year-old woman on a prostitution charge after she allegedly propositioned an undercover officer. Earlier that day police had encountered her soliciting sex for money downtown and issued her a warning. A short time later the undercover officer allegedly spotted her walking on State Street when she offered sex for money. Since 2013, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Vermont Attorney General’s Office had worked to facilitate a collaborative effort to eliminate and prevent the trafficking of persons within the State, and also pursue the links between opioids and other drugs to human trafficking.

Among the efforts made to address such problems are those targeting consumer level demand for commercial sex, which drives all prostitution and sex trafficking.  In response to a survey conducted in 2021 by the NCOSE team for a National Institute of Justice grant to update and expand Demand Forum (Grant #2020-75-CX-0011), representatives from the Montpelier Police Department reported that they have also implemented the following tactics: other buyer arrests, auto seizure, public education, and community service for arrested sex buyers. 

Shaming and loss of employment are consequence of buying sex that have occurred within the city. In August, 2018, a Northfield Selectboard member, who also worked as a deputy sheriff and EMT in Washington County, reached a plea deal over charges of solicitation of prostitution that would keep him from serving any time in jail if he completes counseling, 100 hours of community service, and takes part in the community reparative board process, according to prosecutors. He remained a select board member in Northfield, but resigned his position at the Washington County Sheriff’s Department shortly after he was charged. His status as an EMT in Barre Town was unclear. He had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of committing a prohibited act by soliciting prostitution in May 2018 in Shelburne. He received a 12-month deferred sentence and was placed on probation. If he abided by his probation and stayed out of legal trouble for a year, the charge would be cleared from his record. If any violation occurs, he would face the possibility of serving that time in jail. A felony charge of obstruction of justice was dismissed as part of the plea deal. Chittenden County State’s Attorney said that the plea agreement took into account the man’s lack of a previous criminal record and his acceptance of responsibility early in the case.

In October, 2021, a police review committee submitted a report recommending that the Montpelier City Council repeal city ordinances against prostitution, support a Vermont House bill that would repeal state laws against prostitution, and to direct local police to deemphasize enforcement of prostitution laws while they work to have them eliminated. On August, 24, 2022 the city council voted unanimously to eliminate their local prostitution ordinance. City Councilors justified the vote as merely cleaning up archaic language in an unused local ordinance, and assured that the vote would not decriminalize prostitution, since it remains illegal under state law.  However, a bill to decriminalize prostitution statewide was reintroduced in 2022 and may be up for a vote in 2023.

Key Partners

  • Montpelier Police Department

Key Sources

2021 National Assessment II Survey

Sex Buyer Fired or Resigned Due to Arrest:

Local Decriminalization of Prostitution:

Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Region:

State Decriminalization of Prostitution:

State Vermont
Type City
Population 7477
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