Nassau County, NY

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Cameras
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
Letters
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Nassau County is a suburban county on Long Island immediately east of New York City, with a population of roughly 1.39 million. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified as substantial and longstanding problems in many areas of Long Island. The area has hosted relatively high-end, international prostitution or “escort” services, as well as lower-level local and regional criminal operations facilitated by Craigslist and Backpage (and other websites), and the laundering of money gained through prostitution and sex trafficking. Problems associated with prostitution throughout both Nassau and neighboring Suffolk County include child sex trafficking, as well as at least two serial killers and possibly single-victim murderers who specifically targeted prostituted women. At least 10 prostituted women were murdered in the county on Long Island, including some within the County, in the 2000s alone.

In an effort to reduce the demand for prostitution in the area, the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department has conducted both street-level and web-based stings. For example, in August, 2011, in the Hilton Avenue area of Hempstead a sweeping crackdown on prostitution was conducted where police made 38 arrests as part of a two-night sting operation. Four women were arrested for prostitution, and 34 men were arrested were arrested for soliciting prostituted women. Police said 19 of those arrested lived outside Hempstead village. Police said the operation involved undercover officers and was conducted following numerous complaints by residents.  Beginning in 2007, the police began using Craigslist and Backpage.com for web-based reverse stings. In early June 2013, a month-long set of web-based operations using Backpage.com resulted in the arrest of 104 men, whose names were publicized by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office in an identity disclosure effort entitled, “Flush the Johns.”

In June 2014, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office announced that they had partnered with human trafficking advocacy groups The Safe Center LI and Sanctuary for Families to establish “a program designed to educate defendants charged with prostitution-related offenses how demand fuels the sex trade and impacts human trafficking overall.” The two-hour program, entitled The Real Effects of Sale, Exploitation, and Trafficking Program (or RESET), consisted of a one-day class that “educates defendants about the impact of demand on human trafficking, the correlation between child sexual abuse and prostitution, the background of women who are forced into prostitution, and the role the john plays in the victimization of prostitutes.” The course was made available to sex buyers recently charged and/or convicted of the misdemeanor charge of patronizing a prostitute. Sex buyers who successfully complete the program, paid a “tuition” fee, and completed 35 hours of community service could have their charges reduced to disorderly conduct (a non-criminal violation). Only first time offenders were eligible to participate. According to media reports, the NCDA began considering a “john school” in early 2014; NCDA representatives reportedly inquired about the program in Brooklyn, NY in their fact-finding. In a press release, District Attorney Kathleen Rice stated:

“Prostitution is not a victimless crime and [sex buyers] play an integral role in an industry full of victimization and violence. This program is another step in an ongoing and multipronged strategy of aggressive enforcement, public awareness, and innovative defendant education. We won’t be backing down from making cases that we know will save lives.”

In September 2014, Newsday reported that at least 80 of the 104 men arrested during the “Flush the Johns” campaign had pled guilty “to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct, a violation, which falls short of being a crime and does not show up on criminal records,” and were given mandatory community service and required to complete the two-hour course described above.

Some arrests of sex buyers are the result of allegations of crimes against real victims, rather than the product of reverse stings using undercover police decoys.  For example, in April, 2022, four men were arrested during an investigation into drugs and prostitution in the area. Ajoint investigation between the Narcotics/Vice Squad, Special Victims Squad, Gang Investigation Squad and the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office led to the search of a home on Baldwin Road in Hempstead where the arrests occurred. Two were charged with promoting prostitution, one was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, and the fourth man was charged with “patronizing a prostitute.” The sex buyer was issued a court appearance ticket, and the others were arraigned  in First District Court in Hempstead.

Key Partners

  • Nassau County Sheriff’s Department
  • Nassau County District Attorney’s Office
  • Safe Center LI
  • Sanctuary for Families

Key Sources

John School:

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings with Identity Disclosure and Cameras:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Identity Disclosure:

Community Service:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State New York
Type County
Population 1395774
Location
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