Peoria, IL

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

Peoria is a city of about 113,000 residents in central Illinois, west of Bloomington IL along Interstate 74.  Law enforcement and public health officials have estimated during the 2010s  that there were about 140 prostituted women in Peoria, with an average age of about twenty-three. Numerous problems are associated with the local commercial sex market, including the forced prostitution (sex trafficking) of minors.  For example, in January, 2019, a man who ran a local sex trafficking enterprise was sentenced to serve multiple life prison terms. The man trafficked young women for commercial sexual abuse based at a motel and used women recruited from Champaign, Sangamon and Peoria counties.  Prosecutors said the man used “degradation and manipulation” to exploit young women who were desperate and fighting drug addiction and homelessness. He forced them to perform sex acts for money and was the person who arranged the encounters, set a price and collected the money, used violence and threats of violence to force the women to engage in sex with men. With “constant manipulation,” prosecutors said he exploited the desperation of his victims and ensured they were “indebted” to him for motel rooms, drugs and food. In July, 2022, a man was sentenced 10 years of federal imprisonment, followed by 10 years of supervised release for sex trafficking of a minor, and must also register as a sex offender. The government presented evidence that in April 2019, the man had sex trafficked a minor girl. He rented hotel rooms in the Peoria area, transported the girl to the hotels, and gave her controlled substances. He used online advertisements to solicit men to the hotel rooms to sexually abuse the girl and then collected payment for the act. The man had been indicted in February 2020 and entered a guilty plea in April 2022.

Local women engaged in prostitution and trafficking have been subjected to all manner of violent acts, including being targeted in the city by at least one serial murderer.  From 2001 to 2005, 10 sexually exploited women in Peoria were found murdered or were missing.  Prosecutors attributed eight of the murders to one serial killer, Larry D. Bright.  Investigators questioned prostituted women and found strikingly similar stories of Bright as a “date” or customer who lured prostitutes to his home with promises of cocaine, then turned abruptly violent, sometimes pulling a knife on them before raping them.

In response to such crimes, and to community complaints about prostitution degrading local quality of life, police began targeting their root cause (consumer level demand for commercial sex) by conducting reverse stings in 1980.  The Peoria Police Department continues to conduct occasional reverse stings and, since 2005, to publicize the identities of the men arrested.  On the police department website, the photos and identities of arrested sex buyers are posted, along with those for people arrested for pandering and prostitution.  The following rationale for the website was provided by the police department:

“By using this website, you will be able to view public records on individuals who have been arrested for those offenses. This site has been created to help the citizens of Peoria by deterring prostitution activity in their neighborhoods. The website is in response to complaints from citizens and business owners regarding acts of prostitution occurring every hour of the day and night.  The following individuals were arrested for pandering, prostitution or soliciting a sexual act. It is hoped that the photos of the arrested individuals will serve as a deterrent to others.”

The page also contains the message: ” The following individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”  An article in May 2014 stated that web page showing arrestee identities had operated since 2005.

Key Partners

  • Peoria Police Department
  • Tazewell County Circuit Court
  • Pekin Police Department
  • East Peoria Police Department

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

  • “Sex Stings Reap about 100; Police Say Media Should Release Names to Deter Others”, Peoria Journal Star, August 18 1994.
  • “Prostitution Crackdown Continues; Peoria Stings Will Continue as Needed, Says Police Chief”, Peoria Journal Star, September 22 1994.
  • “Suspected Customers, Prostitutes Booked; Police: Potential Customers Will Get Idea They May Be Soliciting a Decoy”, Peoria Journal Star, July 10 1998.
  • “Community Activist Arrested by Police Decoy”, Peoria Journal Star, January 22 1999.
  • “Prostitution Sting Nets Girls’ Coach”, Peoria Journal Star, September 17 1999.
  • “Letters: Police Ruin Reputations by Entrapping Men to Solicit Prostitutes”, Peoria Journal Star, September 25 1999.
  • “Police, Fire and Courts; Undercover Police Nab 11 in Prostitution Sting”, Peoria Journal Star, March 25 2000.
  • “Police and Courts; Five Men Arrested by Peoria Vice Squad”, Peoria Journal Star, June 20 2002.
  • “Battling Street Sex — Police Chief, Prosecutor Make Those Who Solicit Feel the Shame, Lose in Court”, Peoria Journal Star, March 5 2006.
  • “Number of Solicitation Arrests in Peoria Are Staggering When Compared to Similar Cities around the State”, Peoria Journal Star, March 6 2006.

Identity Disclosure:

  • “2 on Council Tout Publicity as Deterrent”, Peoria Journal Star, August 18 1994.
  • “Letters; Name Names: Maybe It Will Reduce Prostitution”, Peoria Journal Star, August 27 1994.
  • “‘Johns’ Find Publicity Can Be Painful; Some Men Charged with Soliciting Prostitutes Say They Wouldn’t Have Approached Women If They Knew Their Names Would Appear in Newspaper”, Peoria Journal Star, February 4 1996.
  • “Battling Street Sex — Police Chief, Prosecutor Make Those Who Solicit Feel the Shame, Lose in Court”, Peoria Journal Star, March 5 2006.

Neighborhood Action:

  • “Community Sues Man Who Solicited Prostitute”, Mattoon Journal Gazette, January 31 1995.
  • “North Valley Residents Fed Up with Prostitution: Drugs, Crime Have Plagued Morton Square Park for Decades”, Peoria Journal Star, July 16 2005.

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution, Related Crimes in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Local Prostitution Ordinances:

State Illinois
Type City
Population 112644
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