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Palm Bay is a city of just over 100,000 residents, located in Brevard County, Florida near Melbourne. Local law enforcement’s responses to prostitution are in part driven by complaints from businesses and residents. Cases of sex trafficking and prostitution-related violence and production child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state law) have also been documented in the city. For example, in July, 2022, two people were arrested and held in the Brevard County jail, and accused of lewd and lascivious acts and human trafficking. Investigators said that three girls under the age of 18 were recruited online and paid for sexual acts — acts that were recorded on video. Residents of Vero Beach and Palm Bay both faced charges of lewd and lascivious battery, human trafficking, and “use of a child in sexual performance.” The minors were first solicited through Instagram and other social media sites, asking for sex acts and video recordings, which led to obtaining the acts of commercial sexual exploitation and production of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM). The suspects rented hotels for those crimes in Melbourne and Palm Bay. The investigation started earlier in 2022 year based on a report from potential victimization of a juvenile resident of a group home. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office discovered videos on the child’s phone, that contained CSAM.
To address such crimes, the Palm Bay Police Department has attempted to combat their root cause: consumer-level demand for commercial sex. They have conducted street-level reverse stings targeting sex buyers since at least 2009, if not earlier. PBPD officers have also conducted at least one web-based reversal. In 2012, five sex buyers were arrested at a local motel after responding to an online advertisement suggesting prostitution. The identities of the individuals arrested in city stings are not typically publicized by media outlets.
- Palm Bay Police Department
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- “Police: College Professor, Retired DEA Agent Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” ABC/WFTV-TV 9, November 19 2012.
Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “Six Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” ABC/WFTV-TV 9, March 23 2009.
- “Police: Six Charged in Palm Bay Prostitution Sting,” Florida Today, August 19 2013.
Background on Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, Related CSAM, Drug Offenses:
- :”Alleged Prostitution Ring Broken,” Lakeland Ledger, October 1 1995.
- “Police Bust Two Escort Services Run out of Palm Bay Homes,” ABC/WFTV-TV 9, April 14 2005.
- “Cops: College Student Ran Online Escort Service,” ABC/WFTV-TV 9, February 16 2011.
- “Officials Concerned about Human Trafficking in Central Florida,” ABC/WFTV-TV 9, January 22 2014.
- https://www.tallahassee.com/palm-bay-corruption-probe-has-prostitution-link-tallahassee (2019)
- https://metro.co.uk/shocking-mugshots-show-horrific-toll-drug-abuse-prostitute (2019)
- https://thespacecoastrocket.com/holton-providing-prostitution-to-officials-randy-fine-named (2020)
- https://www.facebook.com/palm-bay-woman-arrested-in-melbourne-for-prostitution-related-charges (2020)
- https://www.wesh.com/article/human-trafficking-arrests-brevard (2022)
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: