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Robertson County is a county of about 74,000 residents in north-central Tennessee, north of Nashville. Springfield is the county seat, and another substantial municipality in the county is Millersville. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city of Springfield and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Robertson county. In 2011, a study of human trafficking in Tennessee identified Robertson County as a relatively rural area where this problem is present. Prostitution and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates (including sex trafficking) result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in 2009 a federal investigation uncovered a child sex trafficking operation based in Nashville, with ties to Robertson County. The investigation began after an anonymous tip to police alleged that students from a high school in Robertson County were being exploited in prostitution. The joint investigation by the Metro Nashville Police Department and the FBI led to the arrest of at least five human trafficking conspirators, and agents found a 16-year-old girl at a Murfreesboro hotel who said she had been used by them for commercial sexual exploitation. The girl said she had been with more than 20 sex buyers during the summer. Documents showed there were at least four underage girls who were allegedly exploited (i.e., child sex trafficking victims) over the prior five years. Two men were indicted for transporting the teen victims across state lines to Kentucky. Another man would take calls and set up meetings between the buyers and the victims.
The Springfield Police Department began conducting street-level reverse stings in 1990. In late 2007, officers collaborated with members of the Gallatin Police Department (in adjacent Sumner County) and agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to conduct a reverse sting. Directed by complaints from local residents of suspected prostitution activity, police placed an undercover female officer on 18th Avenue. As men approached and attempted to solicit sex from her, they were apprehended by police. A total of seven sex buyers were arrested, including two juveniles. The five adult sex buyers had their names and photos published in local media outlets.
Millersville is a city that occupies parts of both Robertson and Sumner counties, about 10 miles north of Nashville, and has also addressed demand for prostitution. For example, in October 2017, a former Vice Chair of the Millersville Planning Commission was arrested and charged with six counts of “patronizing prostitution” or soliciting a prostitute. In November 2018, Millersville police conducted a reverse sting in which 11 men responded to a “decoy” online ad, and were cited for solicitation of prostitution when they attempted to buy sex from female undercover officers.
In May 2023, an undercover operation conducted by the TBI Human Trafficking Unit, Springfield Police Department, Robertson County Sheriff’s Office, 19th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office, and TBI’s Tennessee Human Trafficking Task Force resulted in the arrest of four men accused of seeking commercial sexual exploitation of minors. Over a two-day period, undercover officers placed several decoy advertisements on websites known to be linked to prostitution. The operation sought to identify individuals seeking to engage in commercial sex abuse acts with minors. Four men were arrested and charged with trafficking for commercial sex act, solicitation of a minor, and patronizing prostitution. They were booked into the Robertson County Jail and their names and arrest photos were released to the press. The news release said this was the fifth such operation conducted by TBI special agents and other law enforcement partners in 2023.
- Gallatin Police Department
- Springfield Police Department
- Metro Nashville Police Department
- TBI Human Trafficking Unit
- Robertson County Sheriff’s Office
- 19th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office
- TBI’s Tennessee Human Trafficking Task Force
Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “Seven Arrested in Springfield in Prostitution Sting”, Robertson County Times, December 5 2007.
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://smokeybarn.com/millersville-planning-commissioner-arrested-again-facing-5-more-counts-of-soliciting-prostitution-in-a-school-zone (2017)
- https://sumnerhomepage.com/featured/former-millersville-planning-commissioner-arrested-on-six-counts-of-soliciting-a-prostitute (2017)
- https://fox17.com/news/local/police-find-prostitute-drugs-in-millersville-city-employees-home (2017)
- https://www.wkrn.com/news/crime-tracker/doctor-accused-of-trading-prescriptions-for-sex-cited-in-prostitution-sting (2018)
- https://smokeybarn.com/human-trafficking-sting-nets-4-in-robertson-county (2023)
- https://wilsoncountysource.com/4-arrested-in-multi-agency-middle-tennessee-human-trafficking-operation (2023)
- https://www.wsmv.com/tbi-4-arrested-middle-tennessee-human-trafficking-undercover-operation (2023)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://www.wkrn.com/news/fairview-reserve-officer-resigns-after-prostitution-bust (2016)
- https://www.wate.com/news/tennessee/42-arrested-in-middle-tenn-human-trafficking-sting-operation (2017)
- https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/millersville-lynn-crouch-prostitution-drugs-arrest (2017)
- https://www.wsmv.com/news/woman-charged-with-prostitution-details-relationship-with-city-official-in (2017)
- https://smokeybarn.com/former-millersville-commissioner-charged-with-felony-coercion (2018)