|IT Based Tactics
Newaygo County is a county of almost 50,000 residents in western Michigan. Located about 60 miles north of Grand Rapids, its county seat is the city of White Cloud. Prostitution and child sexual exploitation have been documented in the county, resulting in complaints to law enforcement. To combat the crimes associated with illegal commercial sex, local responses have included those focusing on consumer-level demand.
Opportunistic sex buyer arrests have occurred in the county. In April 2016, a Newaygo County surveyor was arrested by Michigan State Police and charged with soliciting an act of prostitution and three counts of engaging the services of prostitutes after an investigation into his alleged activities found evidence of incidents occurring over a two-year period in White Cloud. The allegations involved four different women. The investigation began after he allegedly approached a woman, whom he recognized as a worker at a strip club in another county, outside of Newaygo’s administration building and offered to pay her for sex. The incident was reported to police and further investigation located three other women he had allegedly paid for sex, some allegations dating back to 2013. His identity was released to the press. His term as surveyor was listed as ending in December of that year, and county officials could not remove him from office because it was an elected position. In October he was sentenced to 186 days in jail, an $800 fine, and one year of probation.
There has also been at least one web-based reverse sting in the county. In September 2021, it was announced during a multi-agency news conference that three men had been arrested in a sex trafficking sting in Newaygo County in August. Police announced six total arrests, three from another sting in Mecosta County. Both operations were to identify people seeking to sexually exploit young children. Officers from the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office posed online as 14- and 15-year-old girls and invited men to a home in Fremont, where they were arrested. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were released to the public. One of the men arrested in Newaygo County had been on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry since 2008 after pleading guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving force or coercion. A day after the news conference, the man was charged with two felonies: accosting children for immoral purposes and using computers/internet with another to commit a crime. He was released on bond and returned home, where residents expressed concern for the safety of their children.
- Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office
- Michigan State Police
- Newaygo County Prosecutor
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/newaygo-co-official-arraigned-prostitution-related-charges (2016)
- https://www.woodtv.com/news/newaygo-co-surveyor-76-accused-of-hiring-prostitute (2016)
- https://www.woodtv.com/news/police-elected-official-approached-woman-for-sex-at-county-building (2016)
- https://www.9and10news.com/newaygo-county-surveyor-sentenced-for-soliciting-a-prostitute (2016)
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.woodtv.com/news/kent-county/parents-worried-after-sex-trafficking-suspect-seen-near-cedar-springs (2021)
- https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/Genesee County Sheriff’s Office (2021)
- https://radio.wcmu.org/mid-michigan-sheriffs-collaborate-on-child-trafficking-sting (2021)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area: