Newport News, VA

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

Newport News is a mid-sized city with about 180,000 residents situated on a peninsula near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, in southeastern Virginia in Matthews County.  Among the distinguishing features of the area including Newport News, Hampton, and Norfolk are the seaports, shipyards, and military presence (Army, Air Force, and Navy).  Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented local problems for decades.  For example, in April, 2021, a Mathews County man was sentenced to life in prison for “engaging in a conspiracy to produce child pornography in connection with a purported ‘teen modeling’ endeavor,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  The 54-year-old man conspired with a 54-year-old woman to produce sexually abusive images of two underage girls, and also coerced one of the girls to engage in sexually explicit conduct.  The Mathews County Sheriff’s Office initially charged the man with human trafficking, manufacturing child porn, and solicitation of the prostitution of a minor under 16 years old.  In addition to sex trafficking, a serial killer of prostituted women also operated in Newport News at one time.

According to interviews with local police for the 2012 National Assessment, the first known attempts to combat demand for commercial sex occurred in the mid-1980s, in the form of reverse sting operations, shaming, neighborhood action, and SOAP orders.  Reverse stings have occurred with regularity since 1995, and hundreds of sex buyers have been arrested and their identities disclosed to the media.

The Newport News Police Department posts press releases about reverse stings on its website, which include the names, ages, and communities of residence of the arrested sex buyers.  For example, in February 2015, NNPD officers arrested 22 johns over a two-week period as part of the ninth annual National Day of Johns Arrests. According to media outlets, the initiative involved both web-based investigations and street-level details targeting sex buyers. The names and ages of all sex buyers were publicly released following their arrests. In June 2018, a street level prostitution operation focused on the South district of the city and targeted both prostituted women and their solicitors, and produced 14 arrests, the majority of the arrests were made in the South district. In such efforts, the NNPD sometimes collaborates on reverse stings with police in the neighboring city of Hampton.

A john school program was launched in 2011, and since then the NNPD has been referring qualified arrestees to the program.  The john school concept was recommended by neighborhood advocates and people within the NNPD, and was developed by the Center for Child and Family Services, the NNPD, and the Newport News Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Community Corrections Division.  The john school was structured as a 12-hour counseling program occurring across eight weekly sessions, rather than the more common one-day class of four to eight hours.  The program was located at the Center for Child and Family Services in Hampton. We are not certain the program still operates, as of 2022.

Key Partners

  • Newport News Police Department
    •  Community Response Team and Organized Crime Division
  • Newport News Community Corrections Division
  • Newport News Commonwealth Attorney’s Office
  • Mathews County Sheriff’s Office
  • Hampton Police Department
  • Center for Child & Family Services (Hampton, VA)
  • Ivy Farms Crime Watch Group

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey and Interviews

John School:

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Identity Disclosure:

SOAP Orders and Auto Seizure:

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 Virginia
Type City
Population 179673
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