Rapid City is the second-largest city in South Dakota, with a population of approximately 75,000, and serves as the government seat of Pennington County. It is set against the eastern slope of the Black Hills mountain range, and accommodates most of the tourist flow to Mt. Rushmore. Prostitution, child sex trafficking, and pimping are known to occur in the city, and to address these problems, interventions targeting demand for commercial sex have been pursued. Rapid City law enforcement has been conducting reverse stings since 2008, and have expanded their sting operations to include web-based stings. They have also used surveillance cameras to deter men from buying sex. A web-based reverse sting in February, 2013 resulted in the arrest of seven johns. All were released and ordered to appear in court. A similar operation in October, 2012 resulted in four arrests. Hiring for sexual activity is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. In November, 2013 four men were arrested by the Rapid City Police Department on misdemeanor charges of attempting to solicit prostituted women over the Internet, and the names and ages of the arrested sex buyers were released.
In September 2017, seven sex buyers were cited in an undercover online sex trafficking operation by the Rapid City Police Department. An undercover detective initially contacted two woman who were separately advertising massage and sexual services online, and after an investigation they were arrested and charged for the offenses of prostitution, practice of massage without a license, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and a sales tax license violation. The reverse sting portion of the operation involved detectives fielding calls responding to online posting that advertised commercial sex, arranging meetings, and arresting those who appeared and offered to buy sex. The identities of the sex buyers were publicly released.
In August 2018, six men were arrested as the result of a sex trafficking operation in the Rapid City area, which took place during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The South Dakota Attorney General’s Office worked in conjunction with law enforcement officials from Pennington County, Rapid City, Sturgis and the state Division of Criminal Investigation on the sting. The six men, ranging in age from 20 to 55, were charged with attempted enticement of a minor using the internet, which charge carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison upon conviction. In March 2021 two men were found guilty of sex crimes charges against minors stemming from the reverse sting operations conducted during the 2017 and 2019 Sturgis Motorcycle Rallies. One was an Arizona resident who was found guilty of Attempted Commercial Sex Trafficking of a Minor and Attempted Enticement of a Minor Using the Internet committed during the 2017 Sturgis Rally. In multiple text messages with a person he believed was a pimp for a 15-year-old girl – but who was instead an undercover agent – he negotiated a time and place to meet to engage in sexual abuse of a minor. Upon arriving at the pre-determined location, he was met with law enforcement and taken into custody.
- Rapid City Police Department
- Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office
- South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation
- Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
- Department of Homeland Security
- Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “Prostitution Sting in Rapid City Nets Seven People,” KBHB-AM 810, February 8 2013.
- “Prostitution Sting Leads to Seven Arrests,” Rapid City Journal, February 8 2013.
- “Four Men Charged with Solicitation Online,” Rapid City Journal, November 22 2013.
- “Police Catch Men Shopping for Sex Online,” Rapid City Journal, February 7 2014.
- “Rapid City Police Make Prostitution Sting,” KBHB-AM 810, July 11 2014.
- “Five Charged with Hiring for Sex,” Rapid City Journal, September 28 2014.
- http://www.newscenter1.tv/3-arrested-7-cited-in-rcpd-online-sex-trafficking-operation (2017)
- http://www.kfyrtv.com/content/news/6-arrested-in-Sturgis-sex-trafficking-sting (2018)
- https://www.newscenter1.tv/two-men-found-guilty-sex-crimes-against-minors-sturgis-rally-stings/ (2021)
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-sd/pr/rapid-city-man-sentenced-15-years-federal-prison-attempted-sexual-exploitation-minor (2021)
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Rapid City Man Charged with Trying to Lure Teen into Van,” Rapid City Journal, September 30 2008.
- “Man Gets 3 Years in Underage Sex Trafficking Case,” Rapid City Journal, September 30 2014.
- https://www.argusleader.com/south-dakota-pheasant-hunting-season-sex-trafficking-strip-clubs (2018)
- https://alaska-native-news.com/sex-traffickers-target-native-american-children-in-south-dakota (2021)
- https://www.rideapart.com/news/495530/ride-my-road-end-human-trafficking/ (2021)
- https://www.npr.org/transcripts/976053675 (2021)
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Man Charged in Robbery,” Rapid City Journal, August 24 2004.
- “Alabama Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Rape,” Rapid City Journal, January 15 2013.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Woman Tried on Pimping Charge,” Rapid City Journal, September 5 2001.
- “Woman Guilty of Promoting Prostitution,” Rapid City Journal, September 6 2001.
- “Prostitution Trial Begins in Rapid City,” Aberdeen American News, September 8 2001.
- “Jury Convicts Woman on Prostitution Charges,” Aberdeen American News, September 9 2001.
- “Pimping Charges Bring Two 18-Month Sentences,” Rapid City Journal, October 15 2001.
- “City Proposes Licensing of Sex- and Adult-Oriented Businesses,” Rapid City Journal, September 10 2002.
- “Adult Business Law Gaining,” Rapid City Journal, September 16 2002.
- “City Approves Restrictions on Businesses,” Rapid City Journal, October 22 2002.
- “City Rejects AOB License,” Rapid City Journal, July 17 2003.
- “Police Bring AOBs into Compliance,” Rapid City Journal, March 16 2004.
- “Compliance Checks Ongoing at Adult-Oriented Businesses,” Rapid City Journal, June 26 2004.
- “Woman Charged with Pimping after AOB Sting,” Rapid City Journal, December 7 2004.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 3 Women,” Rapid City Journal, February 28 2006.
- “Three Women Arrested in Connection with Website Advertising Prostitution in Rapid City,” Rapid City Journal, December 13 2012.
- “Two Men Arrested for Prostitution in Rapid City,” Rapid City Journal, March 15 2013.