Oliver Springs, 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

Oliver Springs is a town of approximately 3,300 residents, located near Harriman in eastern Tennessee and occupying parts of Anderson, Morgan, and Roane counties. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the town. Among the more serious issues associated with the town’s commercial sex market is child sexual exploitation and child sex trafficking. For example, in 2016, a web-based investigation focused on individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money led by the FBI and the Seventh Judicial Task Force, with assistance from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, Clinton Police Department, and Oliver Springs Police Department that resulted in the arrest of 13 individuals. According to reports, law enforcement personnel posed as illicit sexual services customers with intended targets being those who would exploit women and children. The FBI and DA’s Office also had victim service coordinators at the scene to give aid to women or juveniles exposed to sex trafficking or who were sexually exploited. The 13 who were charged during the investigation were booked into the Anderson County Jail.

Efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex in Oliver Springs have been reported. For example, in late August of 2013, officers from the Oliver Springs Police Department and the Anderson County District Attorney General Office’s Seventh Judicial Task Force conducted a street-level reverse sting that resulted in the arrest of six male sex buyers; all were charged with patronizing prostitution. According to news reports, all six male sex buyers were apprehended within half a mile of the town’s elementary and middle school. One of the men arrested was a registered sex offender. All arrestees’ names were released to the public. When asked about the department’s impetus for conducting the reverse sting, Oliver Springs Police Chief Kenneth Morgan reported that the undercover operation was started, in part, because of citizen complaints, and that “[the OSPD] hoped [to] stop a growing issue before it became a major problem.”

In addition to conducting reverse stings, sex buyers have also been apprehended as a result of citizen reports and routine traffic stops. For example, in 2017, a student teacher at Oliver Springs High School was indicted by the Roane County grand jury last week on two counts of solicitation of a minor. According to reports, the Oliver Springs High School Principle had received phones calls alleging that a student teacher had been engaging in inappropriate conduct with a student. The former student teacher’s girlfriend reported the incident to the Principal who then reported it to authorities. The pair had initiated communication through World of Warcraft online, and after the student teacher friended the student on Facebook, sexual messages were exchanged. The student teacher then invited the student to go to a drive-in movie in Cookeville to watch the World of Warcraft movie with him. The offender was booked into the Roane County Jail for two counts of solicitation of a minor. The status of the offender’s position as a student teacher was not included in news reports.

In 2019, a 21-year-old Oliver Springs man was arrested on several charges including sexual exploitation of a minor after an officer stopped the offender for a broken brake light. According to the arrest warrant, the investigation began with a routine traffic stop for what an Oliver Springs Police Department officer called a “non-functional brake light and an expired registration.” The offender was driving the vehicle and had a female passenger with him. The offender showed the officer his Tennessee identification card and a Pennsylvania driver’s license, telling him he had bought the vehicle but hadn’t registered it in his name. The owner’s tag expired July 31st, 2019. In addition, the female passenger reported that she was 15-years-old and had told the officer her parents thought she was with a friend from school doing schoolwork for the night, when she’d actually spend the night with the offender. The offender was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, solicitation of a person under 18 years of age, contributing to a minor, drivers license required and misuse of registration.

State Tennessee
Type City
Population 3302
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