Rhinelander is the county seat of Oneida County, Wisconsin, and has a population of roughly 7,500. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Oneida County. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are sex trafficking, child endangerment, and violence committed against people involved in these transactions.
Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. For example, in October of 2014, two men were arrested in Oneida County during an operation targeting people trying to solicit children for sexual activity. In June 2016, the Wisconsin ICAC Task Force engaged in Operation New Hope, a one-week enforcement effort that included participation from over 40 Wisconsin agencies, including the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office. The local component was part of the nationwide Operation Broken Heart. The national crackdown targeted offenders who: (1) possess, manufacture, and distribute child pornography; (2) engage in online enticement of children for sexual purposes; (3) engage in the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and (4) engage in child sex tourism. The Wisconsin ICAC Task Force made 87 arrests of suspected child predators and 129 community presentations on Internet safety. In October 2016, a 35-year-old man was arrested while trying meet an underage person for sex. The suspect had responded to an online ad placed by the Oneida County Internet Crimes against Children Task Force.
In April 2019 a man was arrested in Rhinelander during a sting operation designed to catch child sexual predators. He was arrested at a Rhinelander store when he thought he was going to meet a 15-year-old girl for sex, according to a criminal complaint. He was in possession of condoms at the time of the arrest, which he initially told officers were old but later admitted to purchasing on his way to meet the girl. He appeared in court and was charged with attempted second-degree sexual assault and using a computer to facilitate a sex crime. A judge set cash bond at $5,000 under the condition that he does not possess any devices that can connect to the internet.
- Rhinelander Police Department
- Oneida County Sheriff’s Department
- Oneida County Internet Crimes against Children Task Force
- Wisconsin ICAC Task Force
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- http://www.wearegreenbay.com/news/update-names-of-24-people-arrested-in-sting-targeting-child-predators/161542911 (2014)
- http://www.wsaw.com/home/headlines/4-Charged-in-Oneida-County-Child-Prostition-Case-261871881.html (2014)
- http://interactives.fox11online.com/photomojo/gallery/14581/273132/monthly-mug-shots-october-2014/jason-a.-redfield/ (2014)
- http://www.wsaw.com/fox/content/news/Athens-man-arrested-in-Oneida-Co-child-sex-sting-398257601.html (2016)
- https://starjournalnow.com/2019/07/11/rhinelander-man-guilty-of-child-sex-crime (2019)
- https://wsau.com/news/articles/2019/apr/03/merrill-man-arrested-in-online-sex-sting/ (2019)
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- http://www.wellsvilledaily.com/x390608679/Prostitution-sting-at-Turning-Stone-nets-three (2008)
- https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/local/2014/10/13/brown-county-cracks-online-child-sex/17184549/ (2014)
- http://www.wsaw.com/content/news/Wisconsin-DOJ-partners-make-87-internet-arrests-in-sweep-385887561.html (2016)
- https://www.wjfw.com/storydetails/20190516001212/rhinelander_man_arrested_for_propositioning_teenage_girl_online_for_sex (2019)