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Orlando is located in Orange County in central Florida, with a population of approximately 307,000. City officials and residents have identified prostitution and sex trafficking as substantial problems locally. For example, prostituted women have been murdered in Orlando, and men have been arrested for child endangerment for having toddlers present in their vehicles while they are buying sex. Sex trafficking, particularly that of minors, is also a major problem in the city proper and its surrounding area. Recent cases include one instance in which a 16-year-old sex-trafficked girl was murdered in the city.
The Orlando Police Department routinely conducts reverse sting operations to ameliorate these problems by targeting consumer-level demand. Some operations have been large in scale, occurring in multiple locations and resulting in dozens of arrests. Once arrested, sex buyers may face a range of sanctions, including having their identities publicized and having SOAP orders imposed (i.e., barring them from reentering parts of the community known for significant levels of prostitution). News reports from 1983 indicate that Orlando once imposed community service for prostitution offenses, and in 2015 new legislation required that sanction for prostitution. In 2013, a team of individuals planned to launch a john school program. A respondent to the National Assessment survey indicated that there had been public education efforts in Orlando targeting demand. Reports in early 2015 indicated that such plans were still underway. As of 2019, an online john school developed by a company in Orlando was available (described below), although we do not know if courts have used this option for those arrested in the city.
In October 2015, the plans received support in the form of new legislation designed to combat human trafficking by educating sex buyers and making punishment more severe: the bill would require a first-time sex buyer to perform community service and attend a John School program; if they were convicted twice, they must serve a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail. A first offense for solicitation to commit prostitution in Florida is now a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to one year in jail, one year on probation, and a $1,000 fine. A second offense for soliciting prostitution is a felony of the third degree, which is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years on probation, and a $5,000 fine. A third offense for soliciting a prostitute is a second-degree felony punishable by a prison sentence of up to 15 years, a probation sentence of up to 15 years, and a $10,000 fine. In addition to any other penalty, every conviction for solicitation to commit prostitution requires the judge to impose a mandatory 100 hours of community service and require the completion of an educational program about the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking, such as sexual violence prevention education program, at the expense of the convicted individual. The court must also impose a $5,000 civil penalty for anyone convicted of solicitation to commit prostitution. If a vehicle is used in any way during the act of soliciting prostitution, the judge can also enter an order impounding the vehicle for up to 60 days.
Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex within the city. For example, in June 1991, the University of Central Florida’s President resigned after a newspaper reported he called on escort services during trips to at least five cities while on university business in 1990. The man offered his resignation by telephone to the University System’s Chancellor. In 2002, Orlando police Officer James Howard resigned after he was accused of “soliciting a prostitute” near Amelia Street and Hames Avenue in December 2001. He later pled no contest to unlawful compensation for official behavior, a third-degree felony similar to bribery and soliciting a prostitute. The judge withheld adjudication, meaning Howard would end up with no criminal convictions on his record. But the Orlando Police Department’s internal investigation found he had violated the code of conduct, and it was recommended that he be fired.
Online Prostitution Prevention Class (John School):
An online education program for sex buyers has been developed by the North American Learning Institute for availability in Florida and throughout the U.S. The program is based in Orlando. Men may be asked or required to complete the Prostitution Prevention Class, or john school, by a judge, court, parole officer, probation officer, or a state, county, or city official. This first-offender prostitution program may be required as part of a prostitution intervention or diversion program. Whether this program (or any other online class) is a sufficient alternative to a traditional in-person class is entirely up to the discretion of the courts. The Prostitution Prevention Class is offered in minimum time requirements of four (4), eight (8), twelve (12), or sixteen (16) hours. The course cost ranges from $25 to $85 dollars, depending on its length. A timer is provided to help keep track of time spent within the course. Users may start and stop the class as often as needed, and their progress will be saved each time. The entire class can be completed online and does not require a call to a staff member or a visit to an office to complete the program. The Prostitution Prevention Class is presented in 10 separate sections, and a certificate of completion is provided when all the modules have been finished.
- Legal status
- Health risks
- Financial consequences
- Effect on prostitutes
- Procuring (pimps/traffickers)
- Associated community problems
- Sexual addiction
- Resources and references
- Orlando Police Department
- Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation in Orlando and Orange County
- “3 Police Agencies Gang Up to Fight Prostitution on Trail”, Orlando Sentinel, March 7 1986.
- “Prostitution Solicitors”, Orlando Sentinel, February 2 1988.
- “‘I Turned Down Block by Mistake’: The Men Arrested on the Trail Have a Difficult Time Trying to Explain Why They Would Risk Everything”, Orlando Sentinel, June 25 1995.
- “Vice, Cops Compete for Tougher Hustle on Trail”, Orlando Sentinel, September 26 2001.
- “Deputies Charge 32 in Prostitution Sting”, Orlando Sentinel, May 31 2002.
- “16 Men, 5 Women Busted in Prostitution Sting”, ABC/WFTV-TV 11, September 18 2009.
- “What I Saw; Over and Over, Men Take Bait in Sex Sting”, Orlando Sentinel, September 18 2009
- “4 Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Orlando Sentinel, September 14 2010.
- “Police Site Uses New Weapon- Shame: The Orlando Police Website Displays Pictures of Men Arrested on Charges of Soliciting Prostitutes”, Orlando Sentinel, March 12 2001.
- “Caught with Their Pants Down”, Wired, November 1 2004.
- https://www.issuelab.org/resources/1191/1191.pdf (2008)
Loss of Employment:
- https://www.tampabay.com/ucf-president-quits-amid-scandal/ (1991)
- “Can Police Zone Out Prostitution? A New Idea Would Crack Down on Repeat Offenders Along Parts of OBT and Colonial Drive”, Orlando Sentinel, May 10 1999.
John School, Community Service, Auto Seizure:
- https://www.newspapers.com/newspage (1983)
- https://www.wftv.com/proposed-law-targets-sex-solicitors-harsher-penalt (2015)
- http://southfloridagaynews.com/florida-toughens-prostitution-law (2015)
- http://www.tbo.com/people-who-for-pay-sex-in-florida-could-pay-a-bigger-price (2015)
- http://www.tampabay.com/revenge-porn-prostitution-addressed-in-27-new-florida-laws (2015)
- http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Sections (2017)
- https://courseforprostitution.com/about-the-course (2019)
Background on Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Orlando Police Say Slain Teenager Was Prostitute”, Orlando Sentinel, August 2 1999.
- “Catholics Put Spotlight on Modern-Day Slavery Issues”, Orlando Sentinel, January 28 2011.
- “Cops Chase Suspect through Swamp”, Orlando Sentinel, May 9 2012.
- “Fighting Teenage Prostitution in America’s Fantasyland”, Orlando Sentinel, January 19 2013.
- “Police: Man Locked Teen in Van, Forced Her into Prostitution”, ABC/WFTV-TV 11, May 21 2013.
- “Prostitution Sting: 9 Women, 1 Teen Arrested in Orlando Escort Operation”, Orlando Sentinel, December 18 2013.
- “Sex-Trafficking Case Shows Violent Side of Prostitution”, Orlando Sentinel, January 27 2014.
- “Orlando Man Gets Prison in Prostitution Case of 15-Year-Old Girl”, Lakeland Ledger, May 15 2014.
- “2 Face Charges for Sex Trafficking”, Orlando Sentinel, August 27 2014.
- “Sex-Trafficking Guilty Pleas: Teen Runaway from Orlando Hotel Exploited”, Orlando Sentinel, September 6 2014.
- “3 Sentenced in Prostitution Ring Involving 14-Year-Old Girl,” ABC/WFTV-TV 11, December 19 2014.
- “Missouri Couple Charged with Luring Girls into Prostitution,” Lake Expo, August 27 2015.
- https://www.orlandoweekly.com/prostitution-drugs-and-living-life-on-the-trail (2015)
- http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/2016HumanTraffickingAR (2016)
- http://www.orlandosentinel.com/os-human-trafficking-prostitution-sting-advocates (2017)
- https://www.wesh.com/joel-greenberg-arrested-again-bond-violation (2021)
- https://www.fox35orlando.com/authorities-search-for-additional-victims-in-alleged-sex-trafficking (2022)
- https://madamenoire.com/four-people-charged-with-human-trafficking-after-orlando-police-find-teen-dancing-in-strip-club/ (2023)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Police Say Prostitution at an All-Time High on Trail”, Ocala Star-Banner, January 14 1986.
- “Orlando Paper Charged with Promoting Prostitution”, Citrus County Chronicle, November 15 2007.
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Police Link Suspect to Orlando Prostitute Slayings; Man, 43, Believed to Be Serial Killer”, Miami Herald, June 4 1997.
- “Orlando Police Say Slain Teenager Was Prostitute”, Orlando Sentinel, August 2 1999.
- “Deputies: Woman’s Body Found in Parking Lot of OBT Adult Club”, Orlando Sentinel, January 30 2011.
- “Man Gets Life Term in ’95 Prostitute Slaying”, Orlando Sentinel, April 28 2011.
- “Deputies ID Woman Found Dead on Presidents Drive”, Orlando Sentinel, July 19 2011.
- “Orange Detectives Arrest Convicted Murderer in Woman’s Killing”, Orlando Sentinel, August 21 2011.
- “Prostitute Bites Off Man’s Penis, Charged with Attempted Murder”, CW/KTLA-TV 5, April 21 2013.
- “DNA on Strangled Woman Leads to Murder Confession”, West Orlando News Online, August 1 2013.
- “Affidavit Details Confession in 2011 Strangulation Case”, Orlando Sentinel, August 2 2013.
- “Trial Starts for Convicted Killer Charged Again with Murder”, Orlando Sentinel, August 21 2013.
- “Steve Giddens Not Guilty of Murder in Prostitute’s Strangulation”, Orlando Sentinel, August 23 2013.
Child Endangerment During Prostitution Transactions:
- “Father Arrested for Prostitution with Toddler in Car, Police Say”, NBC/WESH-TV 2, March 11 2014.