Nashville, TN

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

Nashville is a city of nearly 700,000 residents located in central Tennessee.  Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified by numerous constituencies as substantial problems in Nashville for many decades, and have generated many related crimes occurring in commercial sex transactions, including kidnapping, rape, assault, homicide of prostituted persons, weapons and drug offenses, human trafficking, and child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state criminal codes). The history of prostitution in the city is described in a Smithsonian Magazine article from July 2013, focusing on the explosion of prostitution during Union Army stationing in the early 1860s. By 1864, the Army established the first system of legalized prostitution in the United States in order to control disease among soldiers. The system involved prostitute registration, health inspection, etc., similar to that still used in rural Nevada counties. No mention is made of attempting to address the role of the buyers. The legalized prostitution system was abandoned soon after the end of the Civil War.

In current times, the city is known by federal and state investigators, as well as victim advocates, to be on domestic sex trafficking circuits.  For example, federal prosecutors investigated a human trafficking and prostitution ring that had ties to several states, and that the network operated in cities including Knoxville, Morristown, Johnson City, and Louisville, Kentucky. Contemporary local problems associated with commercial sex have been cases of HIV-positive women continuing to engage in prostitution, women sold for sex being specifically targeted for homicide, and prostitution and trafficking cases involving child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state criminal codes). For example, in April, 2011, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation presented a case to the Davidson County Grand Jury which resulted in the indictment of two men for their roles in a mid-state prostitution operation. Both were charged with promoting prostitution and sexual exploitation of a minor. TBI agents and Metro Police had executed a search warrant at the Nashville apartment of a suspect who was running a photography studio out of his home. Evidence from the search supported that the man was in possession of CSAM and was promoting prostitution. Further investigation revealed a widespread criminal operation with links in Murfreesboro and Columbia, resulted in charges including aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, promoting prostitution, and solicitation of aggravated statutory rape.

Nashville has been a leader in efforts to combat demand for commercial sex.  The first reverse sting operation known to have been conducted in the United States occurred in Nashville in 1964. More recent examples include a large scale web-based reverse sting that resulted in 41 people arrested during a three-day operation designed to combat human trafficking in Nashville. The operation, dubbed “Operation Someone Like Me,” was led by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation with help from other law enforcement agencies. Over three days, undercover agents posted ads on A total of 485 men responded to those ads, some of which undercover agents posed as a juvenile girl. Of the 41 arrested, 34 were men who authorities said were responding to ads in an effort to buy access to sexually abuse a minor.  In June, 2021, Nashville Metro Police arrested 17 men in a web-based reverse sting focusing on those attempting to purchase access to minors for sexual abuse.  The men agreed to pay to rape a 16-year-old girl, who was really an undercover officer.  The operation took place over two days and involved the Metro Nashville Police Department, TBI, and Homeland Security. All of the men traveled to a hotel in the Donelson area of Nashville near Donelson Pike and Royal Parkway in response to an internet ad. The arrests came after the men entered the room and exchanged money. Each man is charged with trafficking for a commercial sex act.

Not all arrests of sex buyers are the result of proactive sting operations, but are instead the results of police responses to incidents and investigations of offenses against real victims.  For example, in February, 2016 a police officer with the Fairview Police Department was arrested in Nashville on a prostitution solicitation charge on what was his first day on the job.  The officer resigned from the police force later that same day.  Officials with the Metro Nashville Police Department said the incident involving the officer happened at a hotel on Wallace Road. Police were  in the process of charging a woman in a prostitution investigation when she received a message from an ad she posted online. The message was from the Fairview officer, who showed up at the hotel allegedly intending to buy sex for $120. Both the woman and the officer were cited with misdemeanors.  In April, 2021, Metro police arrested a man accused of grabbing a woman at an Antioch gas station and offering her money to have sex with him. According to an arrest warrant from Metro police, the man was charged with sexual battery. The victim told officers she was at a gas station nearby when the man  approached her. She stated he was trying to solicit her and offered her $100 to go home with him for the night.  The informed the man that she was not a prostitute and would not go anywhere with him. He followed the victim around the parking lot and eventually grabbed her.  The man was arrested and charged with sexual battery.

John School

The city was also among the first cities to pursue the “john school” model of educating men arrested in reverse stings, and through 2017 the Nashville program, operated by Behavioral Treatment Providers (BTP), remained one of the most robust john schools in the Nation.  In 2010, for example, over 400 men participated in the program, more than any program in the U.S. except perhaps Brooklyn, NY.  This flow could be attributed to the Nashville Police Department remaining committed to conducting frequent reverse stings.  It was also helped by the level of local public support and political good will the program fostered, due to its “restorative justice” component.  All of the revenue generated by the BTP john school program $300 fee was given to the local Magdalene program for survivors of commercial sex.  In 1999, it was reported that the Magdelene program was funded entirely by private donations and by the john school.   In 2010 alone, the 400 participants in the Nashville john school program generated over $100,000 for Magdalene (the fee was only $250 in 2010). The BTP john school program was a group therapeutic model.  In 2018 the person who ran the john school sessions died, and subsequently, the john school program available locally is run by SA Nashville. The John’s School provides education for men who tried to buy prostitution services and were caught by police.  For more information about the current program Contact Rob W. or email   Location: Jackson Park Church of Christ, 4103 Gallatin Pike, Nashville, TN 37216

Disclosure of Sex Buyer Identities

The city began publicly disclosing identities of sex buyers in 2005.  The police department website posted the identities of arrested sex buyers, with this explanation/disclaimer:

“The following individuals were arrested and charged for either patronizing or soliciting for prostitution. This is not a comprehensive list of all individuals arrested by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department for patronizing or soliciting for prostitution. The names, identities, and citations appear here as they were provided to police officers in the field at the time of arrests.  All photos and information will be removed after thirty (30) days. These individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

Loss of Employment

Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred in the city.  For example, in October, 2009, a Nashville firefighter admitted to investigators that he paid women to have sex with him at the Murfreesboro Pike fire hall where he worked. The 23-year veteran firefighter resigned from the department after admitting to paying prostituted women for sex. In March, 2018, a Nashville high school football coach was fired following his arrest for allegedly soliciting an underage student. According to an affidavit from Metro Nashville Police, the coach messaged a 17-year-old girl on Instagram asking her for sex. The man was arrested after he allegedly confessed to police about having sent the messages. The conversation reportedly started with private Instagram messages to her asking the girl when she would turn 18-years-old. He also asked if she wanted to do anything with him “like sex lol.” He later offered to reimburse her gas money to drive to his apartment. The man was arrested and booked into jail on $100,000 bond and was charged with solicitation of a minor. Because of her age and the fact that no physical contact was made, the charge was a misdemeanor. Republic High School later released a statement saying the man had been fired immediately upon being informed that the faculty member sent inappropriate electronic messages to an underage student.

Key Partners

  • Nashville Police Department
  • Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
  • Behavioral Treatment Providers (John School, ending 2018)
  • SA Nashville (John School)
  • Nashville Public School District
  • Nashville Fire Department

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey and Interviews (2012)

John School:

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Other Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Identity Disclosure:

Loss of Employment:

Neighborhood Action:

Community Service:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Local Prostitution-Related Violence, CSAM, Drug and Weapons Offenses:

State Tennessee
Type City
Population 689447
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