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Paris is a city of approximately 10,000 residents in northwestern Tennessee and is the county seat of Henry County. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been documented in the city and throughout the region for decades. For example, in 2015 a 47-year-old Paris man was one of 14 individuals arrested during a week-long undercover sex trafficking operation in Clarksville and Brentwood. The operation was conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), Clarksville Police Department, Brentwood Police Department, and End Slavery Tennessee, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending human trafficking. According to reports, officials posted decoy ads on websites known for prostitution and sex trafficking, receiving 111 responses in five hours. Among the men arrested were a pastor, an Army lieutenant, a farmer, and a small business owner. In addition to the criminal charges, the activity identified several young women who may have been victims of human trafficking. Fourteen individuals were arrested on prostitution-related charges including promoting prostitution, possession of drugs, and resisting arrest.
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. In response to a survey conducted in 2021 by the NCOSE team for a National Institute of Justice grant to update and expand Demand Forum (Grant #2020-75-CX-0011), representatives from the Paris Police Department reported that street-level and web-based reverse stings have been conducted periodically since at least 2003 and 2006, respectively, with an operation usually conducted every 2 to 3 years.
In 2016, a two-day operation targeting the online sexual exploitation of minors and sex trafficking was conducted in Henry County and resulted in the arrest of six people. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) led the investigation in conjunction with the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, Paris Police Department, Metro Crime Unit, Jackson Police Department, Puryear Police Department, and Tennessee Highway Patrol. Five of those arrested were from out of town traveling through Henry County to undisclosed locations to commit the crimes. Investigators were able to identify and apprehend five sexual predators who were using social media to target underage victims of sexual exploitation. One suspect was charged with solicitation of prostitution. According to reports, this was the first time an operation like this had been conducted in the county,
“This is the first time this type of investigation has been conducted in Henry County. Five of the suspects were traveling from out of town to an undisclosed location to commit the sexual crime. I cannot stress enough the importance of parental monitoring of the internet and social media. The investigation was very successful and will be conducted again in Henry County.”
The identities, ages, charges, and photos of arrested offenders were released by police to local media outlets.
Identity disclosure and employment loss have also been consequences of buying sex in the city. For example, in 2012, a Paris minister was one of eight male sex buyers arrested during a web-based reverse sting called, “Operation Catch a John,” conducted by the Graves County Sheriff’s Office in Kentucky. The sex buyer was formerly the Minister of Students and Family Discipleship at First Baptist Church. The church’s Senior Pastor Dr. Trent Bullock stated that as a result of his arrest, the sex buyer was initially placed on administrative leave as church officials gather more information about the arrest, but later submitted a letter of resignation. The former minister’s identity, age, and photo were included in reports by local media outlets. All eight male sex buyers were charged with soliciting prostitution.
- Paris Police Department
- Henry County Sheriff’s Department
- Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI)
- Clarksville Police Department
- Brentwood Police Department
- End Slavery Tennessee
- Metro Crime Unit
- Jackson Police Department
- Puryear Police Department
- Tennessee Highway Patrol
- Graves County Sheriff’s Office
- First Baptist Church
2021 National Assessment II Survey
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.facebook.com/wenkwtpr/posts/operation-targeting-sexual-exploitation-of-minors-nets-arrestsparis-tenn-an-oper (2016)
- https://www.wbbjtv.com/online-sexual-exploitation-sting-of-minors-brings-in-six-arrests (2016)
- https://www.parispi.net/news/local_news/article (2016)
Sex Buyer Fired or Resigned Due to Arrest:
- https://www.wkms.org/paris-tn-pastor-arrested-in-sex-sting (2012)
- https://www.parispi.net/news/local_news/article (2012)
Background on Prostitution in the Area: