Rochester, MN

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

Rochester is a city of approximately 121,000 residents, located about an hour’s drive south of St. Paul in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been reported in the city for decades, as have cases of assaults and robberies committed against sexually exploited persons as well as sex buyers.

In an effort to reduce these and other related crimes in the city, the Rochester Police Department has targeted sex buyers for arrest since at least the mid- to late 1980s. In one early operation, conducted in September 1987, RPD detectives identified and dismantled a local escort service and then arranged to have calls re-routed to the police station. As sex buyers contacted the officers and made an offer of money for sex, they were charged with solicitation. In 2011, Rochester Police began using web-based reverse stings to intercept individuals attempting to purchase sex online. Since that time, officers have conducted several large-scale operations, often placing decoy advertisements suggesting prostitution with both adult women and paid sexual abuse of minor girls to sites known for such listings. In August 2014, the RPD announced the conclusion of “Operation Aware,” a three-month investigation that aimed to identify “those offering to hire persons (both juveniles and adults) for prostitution, people who promote/profit from prostitution and victims of prostitution.” As a result, eleven adults were charged with “offering to hire a person 15-17 years of age for prostitution, and eight [individuals were charged with] offering an adult for prostitution.”

The names, ages, and addresses of the arrested sex buyers in Rochester are periodically released to the public following investigations, but are often not reported until the individual has been convicted or plead guilty to the charge.

Beginning in 2011, Olmsted County District Court judges began requiring sex buyers who are arrested for the first time to attend “john school” classes conducted in St. Paul by Breaking Free, a nonprofit organization that assists women and girls who have been involved in prostitution. As of 2023, the approach is still in use.  For example, in March, 2023 it was reported that a man arrested in a Rochester prostitution sting had pleaded guilty and received a one-year probation sentence. He was also ordered to pay $1,590 in court fines and fees, as well as enroll in “a class on the effects of human trafficking on victims.” He was one of four men arrested in November, 2022 in a reverse sting. According to news reports based on court documents, undercover officers with Rochester police had placed and monitored an ad advertising sexual services for individuals willing to meet a young woman at a location of her choice. According to court documents, the men responded to the ad, arranged to pay the undercover officers posing as a prostituted woman

On at least two occasions, a convicted sex buyer has been sentenced to community service for solicitation of prostitution. In July 2015, a Rochester resident pled guilty to prostitution-for-hire after being intercepted in a 2014 web-based reverse sting targeting individuals attempting to purchase access to sexually abuse minors. The sex buyer was sentenced to probation, community service, and electronic home monitoring. According to media reports, he was also “he “ordered to attend a sex offender program and to register as a predatory offender.” Later that same month, a second sex buyer was sentenced to “one year in jail, stayed for a year, and [required] to complete a Men Who Use Prostituted Women Program,” or john school.

Key Partners

Key Sources

John School:

Reverse Stings:

  • “‘Good-Time’ Telephone into Police Station Nets 3 Arrests”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 25 1987.

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

Community Service:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Minnesota
Type City
Population 121465
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