Pickerington, OH

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

Pickerington is a city in central Ohio of approximately 24,000 residents, located within Franklin and Fairfield Counties. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas. Among the more serious issues associated with the city’s commercial sex market are the commercial sexual exploitation of children and child sex trafficking. For example, in 2021, a web-based operation focused on combatting sex trafficking in central Ohio resulted in the arrest of 93 individuals and the rescue of 53 sex trafficking victims, who were referred to sex trafficking survivor services. During Operation 614, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in coordination with the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) dedicated their efforts to apprehending individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money online, while other participating agencies focused on either recovering sex trafficking victims or apprehending individuals seeking to purchase commercial sex.

Due to the immense amount of prostitution activity prevalent in the Central Ohio area, Pickerington has focused on using tactics meant to end sexual exploitation by addressing consumer-level demand. For example, in January 2020, the Pickerington Police Department participated in a demand-oriented web-based reverse sting operation with the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office for the first time, in efforts to eventually conduct similar operations on their own in the future. “Operation Foul Ball” occurred in Pickerington’s neighboring city of Canal Winchester, and resulted in the arrest of six male sex buyers under ORC 2907.23A2-Enticement or solicitation to patronize a prostitute. In addition, officers used cameras to record transactions between law enforcement and arrested sex buyers. The arrested offenders had their identifying information released to the public, and as a part of their sentence, they were mandated to attend a “John School” education program. In a statement by Fairfield Chief Deputy Alex Lape, he explained that in the program sex buyers are educated on the connection between prostitution and sex trafficking in addition to learning about the underlying dangers and consequences of purchasing commercial sex:

“It is an awareness-type training for them that lets them know 100 percent what they are putting their money into. It isn’t just a sex act, they are victimizing a person that is already a victim,”

In November 2021, the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of 23 men in a sting targeting prostitution and sex trafficking. According to the sheriff’s office, the stings were held on Nov. 5 and Nov. 12 in the cities of Lancaster and Pickerington. The men arrested were charged with engaging in prostitution, a first-degree misdemeanor, with some of them facing additional drug and weapons charges. The sheriff’s office said it confiscated four firearms during the arrests. The suspects range in age from 22- to 67-years-old. Nine of the suspects were residents of Columbus. The operations were conducted with the assistance of the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force. In a statement about the stings, the sheriff’s office wrote:

“These operations, referred to as ‘John Stings,’ with Detectives from the Investigations Bureau working in undercover assignments, targets those individuals who perpetuate the demand for prostitution and human trafficking.”

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

John School:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

State Ohio
Type City
Population 23971
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