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San Bernardino is a city of over 215,000 residents, located in the Riverside-San Bernardino metropolitan area of California. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified as substantial problems (including the homicide of prostituted women) in the city and surrounding area. In an effort to combat consumer-level demand for commercial sex, the San Bernardino Police Department has been conducting stings since 1981, and web-based reverse stings since 2008.
While police have released the identities of those arrested for soliciting as part of routine crime reporting for years, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office announced in January 2013 a new policy specifically designed to shame those who attempt to solicit sex. The initiative, dubbed the “Stop the John Project,” began full implementation in April 2013, when the District Attorney’s Office posted its first photograph of a convicted sex buyer. The man had been arrested in September 2012 and convicted in February 2013. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, a $275 fine, HIV testing through the San Bernardino County Health Department, was ordered to complete a HIV education program (McMillan, 2013). He was ordered to return to court on March 20 to learn his HIV test results. In February 2014, the photos of five arrested sex buyers were posted on the Stop the John webpage.
The Stop-the-John Project will continue throughout the county as long as there is a demand for sex-workers, according to news reports. “The biggest impact we can make on the johns that solicit prostitutes is to shame them publicly,” said San Bernardino County District Attorney, Michael Ramos. “This is the deterrent.” The District Attorney’s Office will release the names and photographs of any man or woman convicted of solicitation in San Bernardino County, Ramos said. “The message is simple,” Ramos said, “This is the wrong county to solicit sex in.” A database listing those convicted can be viewed at the District Attorney’s web page here.
“We really have to attack the front end of this problem in human trafficking. We’re doing a great job on the suppression side, putting these traffickers in prison. We are now changing the way we look at the young girls as victims. But really to stop the problem is the demand side of it. How do we hold these people responsible and stop it from happening in the first place?”
Michael Ramos, San Bernardino County District Attorney, April 3 2013
In September 2020 the San Bernardino Police Department arrested 13 people in an undercover reverse sting operation. According to law enforcement, seven were arrested for solicitation of prostitution while the other six were indicted for loitering with the intent to commit prostitution. In addition to being arrested, three vehicles were impounded. The San Bernardino Police Department also urge the community to continue to be diligent about reporting any concerns or activities that could be related to human trafficking.
Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred within the city. For example, in November, 2015, a man who served as a part-time California State University (CSUSB) public administration faculty professor resigned from that position after he was convicted of engaging and agreeing to engage in prostitution. The man was previously arrested and in Orange County Superior Court entered a guilty plea to engaging in prostitution, a misdemeanor. The sex buyer served 10 days of community service in lieu of jail time and was placed on three years’ probation. He was ordered to undergo AIDS testing and education and submit a DNA sample. The same man also served as the human resources director for San Bernardino County, and resigned after his arrest consequent publicity.
- San Bernardino Police Department
- San Bernardino County Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE)
- San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office
- San Bernardino County Health Department
- San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force
Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “Anti-Prostitution Official Busted for Soliciting Cop”, Lodi News-Sentinel, February 2 1980.
- “Crime and Public Safety 3-18-2006”, San Bernardino Sun, March 17 2006.
- “Seven Arrested During Prostitution Sting”, San Bernardino Sun, October 6 2006.
- “Four Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, San Bernardino Sun, November 2 2006.
- “SAN BERNARDINO: 41 Arrested in 3-Day Sweep”, Riverside Press-Enterprise, October 20 2011.
- “SAN BERNARDINO: Eleven Arrested in Undercover Prostitution Sting”, Riverside Press-Enterprise, February 20 2014.
- https://www.fontanaheraldnews.com/news/inland_empire_news/thirteen-persons-are-arrested-during-john-prostitution-operation-in-san-bernardino/article_f6c0170c-f93f-11ea-af26-075697998b04.html (2020)
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- “INLAND: Law Enforcement Targets Backpage.com ‘Escort’ Ads”, Riverside Press-Enterprise, October 24 2012.
- The Stop-the-John Project’s Official Website
- “DA to Post Prostitution Solicitor Photos Online”, Victorville Daily Press, January 20 2013.
- “DA’s Stop-the-John Program to Shame Sex Solicitors”, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, April 2 2013.
- “Photos May Blunt Human Traffickers”, Inland News Today, April 2 2013.
- “SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY: DA Revealing Convicted ‘Johns’ Names”, Riverside Press-Enterprise, April 2 2013.
- “VIDEO: San Bernardino DA to Crack Down on Prostitution”, Riverside Press-Enterprise, April 2 2013.
- “San Bernardino Puts Mugshots of Prostitution ‘Johns’ on Website”, ABC/KABC-TV 7, April 3 2013.
- “PROSTITUTION: San Bernardino DA Posts Another ‘John’ Mug”, Riverside Press-Enterprise, June 15 2013.
- “San Bernardino County DA Posts Names, Photos of Prostitution ‘Johns'”, San Bernardino Sun, August 13 2013.
- “DA Releases Names and Photos of Four Defendants Convicted of Solicitation of Prostitution in San Bernardino County,” Highland Community News, September 10 2015.
Loss of Employment:
- https://www.pe.com/2015/11/12/san-bernardino-county-hr-director-caught-in-prostitution-sting-resigns/ (2015)
- https://coyotechronicle.net/public-administration-professor-resignation/ (2015)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Internet Prostitution Sting Nets 14 Arrests, and One Teen Girl”, San Bernardino Sun, May 21 2009.
- “Two SB Teen Girls Arrested for Prostitution”, San Bernardino Sun, December 2 2009.
- “Police Seeking Accomplices in Teen Prostitution Case”, San Bernardino Sun, December 3 2009.
- “Innocence Lost: SB County Goes to the Front Lines to Tackle Issue”, San Bernardino Sun, May 1 2010.
- “Public Role Key to Reducing Child Prostitution”, San Bernardino Sun, May 1 2010.
- “SAN BERNARDINO: Pair Linked to Prostitution Ring, Police Say”, Riverside Press-Enterprise, June 7 2011.
- “SAN BERNARDINO: Family Counselor Accused of Pimping Teen”, Riverside Press-Enterprise, November 15 2012.
- “District Attorney’s Film Sheds Light on Human Sex Trafficking in San Bernardino County”, San Bernardino Sun, January 17 2013.
- “Here’s More of the Plan to Combat Human Trafficking in S.B. County”, Riverside Press-Enterprise, January 18 2013.
- “San Bernardino County DA Strengthens War Against Child Sex Trafficking”, San Bernardino Sun, January 18 2013.
- “Gangs Increasing Presence in Human Sex Trafficking in San Bernardino County”, San Bernardino Sun, January 27 2013.
- “San Bernardino Man Will Stand Trial in Child Prostitution Case”, San Bernardino Sun, August 20 2013.
- “County Works to Combat Sex Trafficking”, Yucca Valley Hi-Desert Star, March 11 2014.
- “Los Angeles Man Convicted of Forcing Girl into Prostitution in San Bernardino”, San Bernardino Sun, May 30 2014.
- “Hemet Couple Accused of Forcing Teenage Girl into Prostitution”, Los Angeles Times, June 19 2014.
- “Nationwide Human Trafficking Rescues Two Girls in San Bernardino”, San Bernardino Sun, June 21 2014.
- “Man Arrested after Allegedly Forcing Teen Girl into Prostitution in San Bernardino”, KTLA-TV 5, August 2 2014.
- “Couple Accused of Human Trafficking Virginia Child in San Bernardino,” San Bernardino Sun, February 11 2016.
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Test Law OK’d”, Oxnard Press-Courier, September 21 1982.
- “San Bernardino Case May Redefine Prostitution”, Contra Costa Times, June 20 2000.
- “Opinion: Johns Should Be Targets in Prostitution Fight”, San Bernardino Sun, May 2 2011.
- “SAN BERNARDINO: Police Chief Looks to Public for Help”, Riverside Press-Enterprise, February 7 2012.
- “SAN BERNARDINO: ‘Street Team’ Aims to Help Prostitutes”, Riverside Press-Enterprise, January 30 2013.
- “New Downtown Shelter in San Bernardino Helps Victims of Human Trafficking, Prostitution”, CBS/KCAL-TV 9, September 19 2013.
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: