Richland County, 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

Richland County is a county of about 120,000 residents, located in north-central Ohio about midway between Columbus and Cleveland. Its county seat is Mansfield. Prostitution and sex trafficking in the area have been well-documented problems, resulting in complaints to law enforcement. Drugs and child endangerment have also been connected with the local commercial sex market. For example, in July 2013, the Richland County Sheriff’s Office Violent Crimes Impact Team conducted a human trafficking investigation of online escort services operating in Richland County because of concern that women addicted to illegal narcotics were being forced into providing sex for hire. The investigation resulted in the arrest of five women for soliciting for prostitution and one man for compelling prostitution after he knowingly transported a woman to conduct sex for hire, along with her four children ranging in age from 1 to 11.

To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking. For example, in November 2012, a former parole officer for the Ohio Department of Youth Services was indicted on charges of procuring or soliciting a prostitute and theft in office following accusations that he hired prostituted women while on duty and falsified his employee time card and other records. He was arrested after he was seen picking up one or more prostituted women in his state-owned vehicle while on duty. The man previously worked with the Richland County Juvenile Court before being placed on administrative leave in June and retiring in October. In February 2013, the man pleaded guilty to one felony county each of tampering with records and promoting prostitution, and two misdemeanor counts of procuring or soliciting prostitution. His other 15 charges were dismissed. Prosecutors recommended house arrest and he faced a maximum sentence of 4½ years in prison.

In April and May 2015, the Richland County Sheriff’s Office participated in a web-based reverse sting conducted by the Mansfield and Ashland police departments that resulted in the arrest of 15 men and 15 women, using Internet advertisements and informants over a span of nearly a month. METRICH task-force officers from both departments divided the work of rounding up prostituted women and male sex buyers. Arrest warrants were issued from local courts and police mobilized to serve the warrants. Police investigators placed ads on multiple websites for “women seeking men” sex and companionship solicitation, and within two weeks of posting on the websites, officers received approximately 300 responses to the ads, including 144 emails and 153 text messages from men asking to schedule a meeting with the confidential informant for sex. Officers investigated 15 men who responded to the advertisement. Eleven of the warrants were executed successfully, two men turned themselves in, and two men were arrested while the operation was active. The identities of the men were publicly disclosed by police. The operation was conducted in collaboration with the Richland County Sheriff’s Office, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, Galion Police Department, Bellville Police Department, Shelby Policy Department, Ashland County Sheriff’s Office, and FBI.

Key Partners

  • Mansfield METRICH Enforcement Unit
  • Ashland METRICH Enforcement Unit
  • Ashland Police Department
  • Ashland County Sheriff’s Office
  • Mansfield Police Major Crimes Unit
  • Richland County Sheriff’s Office
  • Knox County Sheriff’s Office
  • Crawford County Sheriff’s Office
  • Galion Police Department
  • Bellville Police Department
  • Shelby Policy Department
  • Ashland County Sheriff’s Office
  • FBI

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Ohio
Type County
Population 121043
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