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San Francisco (officially, the City and County of San Francisco) is the leading population and cultural center of Northern California and the Bay Area, with a population of over 815,000. Prostitution and sex trafficking in the city are well documented, long-standing problems locally, and been linked to cases of serial killers targeting individuals selling sex, numerous additional murders, and assaults on sex buyers as well as prostituted and trafficked persons. For example, in 1983, a man was convicted of seven murders of prostituted women in San Francisco and the Bay Area, and was suspected in other unsolved homicides. Other homicides and assaults include a series of cases in 1995, in which two prostituted people were murdered, and two others were critically injured. One of the women who survived was in a coma for seven weeks after the assault that resulted in the fracturing of her skull, jaw, and two eye sockets, in addition to the shattering of her teeth. The other survivor was a 15-year-old girl who was raped and then repeatedly stabbed in the eyes to prevent identification of her assailants, then shot in the back of the head. In addition, there has been at least one homicide of a sex trafficker/pimp, by the parents of a girl he had sex trafficked in Compton and San Francisco.
Reverse Stings and John Schools:
The city of San Francisco is one of the pioneers in addressing the demand for commercial sex. The first known reverse sting operation in the city occurred in 1975, and by the late 1980s the San Francisco Police Department was routinely arresting hundreds of sex buyers each year. In 1995, the city launched the First Offender Prostitution Program (FOPP), a type of program that later became known by the generic term, “john school.” The FOPP is widely regarded as the first john school, although it was not (e.g., programs were active in Grand Rapids, MI and St. Paul, MN in the 1980s). However, it did serve as the model or starting point for most of the 70+ programs that followed in the U.S. (plus over a dozen in Canada, approximately 20 in the United Kingdom, and the nationwide program operating in over 30 sites throughout the Republic of Korea). The FOPP’s managing partner was the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, which led a partnership with the SFPD and a non-profit organization (SAGE), that was formalized by a memorandum of understanding. The FOPP also had key collaborators that contributed to the program for years, including a neighborhood organization, Save our Streets (SOS), and the San Francisco Department of Public Health. In addition, key classroom contributions were made by survivors of commercial sex, most of whom were current or former clients of the SAGE program. The FOPP was the subject of an evaluation sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, which found the FOPP to be effective in reducing recidivism. The report from that evaluation, along with resources from the FOPP, are provided below.
From 1995 to 2014, the non-profit Standing Against Global Exploitation, or SAGE, led the FOPP, but the program was discontinued and SAGE was disbanded by the fall of 2014. In 2015, Community Works West (CWW) began developing a john school to replace the previous program operated in the city for 20 years by SAGE. In 2018, the CWW website contains a description of a second generation john school in San Francisco, described as follows:
The First Offender Prostitution Program (the “John’s School”) is a court diversion program that seeks to reduce recidivism among first time buyers of prostitution. Eligible “johns” participate in an eight-hour Saturday school (similar to traffic school) focused on building knowledge regarding the consequences, both personal and societal, of buying sexual services. Community Works is piloting a new men-helping men approach, in which the RSVP Team has adapted the manalive curriculum to the First Offender Prostitution Program. This was the first John’s School in the nation and has been replicated in more than 50 jurisdictions nationwide. Contact: Alan Wilson (email@example.com)
A news report in July 2019 about the second generation john school in San Francisco noted that local police are supplying the program with a robust stream of arrested sex buyers.
- San Francisco District Attorney’s Office
- San Francisco Police Department
- Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE) (1995-2014)
- Community Works West (2015)
- San Francisco Department of Public Health
- Save Our Streets (SOS)
- Survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking
National Assessment Survey, Interviews
FOPP Program Documentation
- FOPP Full Curriculum
- FOPP Curriculum Summary and Observations
- FOPP Diversion Offer Letter
- FOPP Offender Processing Diagram
- FOPP Acceptance Process Diagram
- FOPP Example MOUs 2002 and 2006
- FOPP Handout Sex Addicts Anonymous
- FOPP Handout SF Department of Public Health
- FOPP Class Evaluation Form
- FOPP California statute authorizing FOPP option
- http://communityworkswest.org/what-we-do/our-approach-programs/ (2018)
FOPP Program Evaluation
- Evaluation of the San Francisco First Offender Prostitution Program (Full Report)
News Reports on FOPP John School:
- “Police Program Has Ex-Prostitutes Share Stories in School for Johns”, San Francisco Examiner, April 30 1995.
- A school for scandal (1995)
- “Patrons Given a Graphic View of Prostitution”, New York Times, May 12 1996.
- “An Anti-Prostitution Program”, Long Beach Press-Telegram, May 15 1996.
- “Police Program Gives Prostitutes’ Clients Lessons in Consequences of Offense”, New York Times, June 9 1996.
- “John School Takes a Bite Out of Prostitution”, San Francisco Chronicle, April 14 2008.
- “‘John Schools’: Can Men Who Hire Prostitutes Be Reformed?”, PBS, May 30 2008.
- “A School for Johns”, Daily Beast, July 23 2008.
- “‘John School’: Prostitution in San Francisco”, Translated Voices, November 12 2012.
- https://www.kalw.org/post/johns-san-francisco-sit-down-class-sex-trade (2019)
Community Works West John School:
- https://www.kalw.org/post/johns-san-francisco-sit-down-class-sex-trade#stream/0 (2019)
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 51 So Far”, San Francisco Examiner, January 20 2010.
- “SFPD Cracking Down on Prostitution”, Mission Local, March 31 2010.
Sex Buyer Arrests:
- Prop. Q’s strange bedfellows (1979)
- https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2004-feb-20-me-onthelaw20-story.html (2004)
- https://www.law.com/thelegalintelligencer/almID/900005487229/?slreturn=20220024142147 (2007)
- https://www.presstelegram.com/2007/07/26/cities-can-no-longer-seize-cars-court-says/ (2007)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation Cases in the Area:
- “Busby Case Goes to Merced Jury,” Lewiston Morning Tribune, December 12 1939.
- “Cops Smash Teen Prostitution Ring”, Albany Herald, August 19 1978.
- “Prostitutes Lead Life of Ignorance, Brutality”, Ottawa Citizen, July 6 1982.
- “S.F. Police Linked to Prostitution Ring”, Bend Bulletin, July 31 1988.
- “Teen Sex Scandal Sweeps San Francisco”, Owosso Argus-Press, October 10 1988.
- “Prostitution Suspect Held After ‘Tip'”, Spokane Chronicle, July 11 1989.
- “S.F. Prostitution Suspect Quizzed in Tot Kidnapping”, Contra Costa Times, October 18 1996.
- “Man Gets 10 Years for Prostitution Ring”, Lodi News-Sentinel, November 28 2001.
- “Advocate Pushes to Bring End to Child Prostitution”, Eugene Register-Guard, January 30 2003.
- “Police Raids Break Up International Prostitution Ring in San Francisco”, San Francisco Chronicle, January 23 2004.
- “Child Prostitute Probe Results in Man’s Arrest”, Oakland Tribune, February 10 2006.
- “Prostitution Aims to Help Exploited Minors”, Oakland Tribune, July 17 2007.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 17 Adults, 2 Teens”, San Mateo Daily Journal, October 31 2008.
- “Is Craigslist the World’s Biggest Bordello?”, CNET/CBS News, March 6 2009.
- “Couple Arrested in South San Francisco on Suspicion of Forcing Girls into Prostitution”, San Francisco Examiner, August 21 2011.
- “Cops Nab Pimps and Johns in Prostitution Sting”, San Francisco Weekly, June 27 2012.
- “105 Kids Rescued from Prostitution Rings; 159 Arrested”, USA Today, July 29 2013.
- “FBI Charges 159 Men with Forcing Teenage Girls into Prostitution”, New York Times, July 30 2013.
- “Six Teen Prostitutes Rescued in Bay Area Child-Sex Sting”, San Jose Mercury News, June 24 2014.
- “San Francisco: Suspects Arrested for Allegedly Forcing Teen Girl into Prostitution,” Contra Costa Times, January 29 2016.
- https://pioneertable.com/26-year-old-convicted-in-child-sex-trafficking-case/ (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “New San Francisco Scandal”, San Jose Evening News, April 30 1938.
- “Streets of San Francisco: Today’s Ladies Not So Classy”, Ottawa Citizen, January 7 1977.
- “San Francisco Begins Hooker Crackdown”, Lakeland Ledger, March 27 1977.
- “Sex-Escort Ring of 150 Broken Up in San Francisco”, Palm Beach Post, August 24 1983.
- “San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution: Final Report”, City and County of San Francisco, March 1996.
- “Police Surfing Craigslist for Prostitution Arrests”, San Jose Mercury News, November 14 2005.
- “San Francisco Prostitutes, Mayor Clash on Vote to Stop Arrests”, Bloomberg, November 3 2008.
- “San Francisco Crime Map, Prostitution Edition”, Gawker, June 8 2010.
- “San Francisco Police Crack Down on Polk Street Prostitution”, San Francisco Examiner, April 18 2011.
- “Massage Pallor: S.F. Anti-Prostitution Squad Faces End”, San Francisco Weekly, January 25 2012.
- “Sex Worker Advocates, Residents Talk Prostitution”, Mission Local, April 25 2012.
- “Daytime Violence Addressed at Community Meeting”, Mission Local, September 26 2012.
- “City to Cease Using Condoms as Evidence in Prostitution Cases”, San Francisco Bay Guardian, October 7 2012.
- “Sorry, Everybody: Carrying Three or More Condoms Still Makes You a Prostitute”, SFist, January 15 2013.
- “Sugar Dating in San Francisco: Behind the Boom of Prostitution-Lite”, San Francisco Weekly, January 15 2013.
- “Condoms No Longer Allowed as Evidence in San Francisco Prostitution Cases”, CBS/KPIX-TV 5, April 30 2013.
- “Sisters Busted in San Francisco Sex Ring”, Breitbart News, June 10 2014.
- “Mountain View Man Arrested on Suspicion of Running Prostitution Operation at sfredbook.com, myredbook.com”, San Jose Mercury News, June 26 2014.
- “Ten People Indicted in Bay Area Prostitution Ring”, San Jose Mercury News, October 24 2014.
- https://sfgov.org/dosw/sites/default/files/department (2017)
- https://sfgov.org/DA Prioritizing Safety for Sex worker Policy.pdf (2017)
- https://sfgov.org/dosw/san-francisco-announces-prioritizing-safety-sex-worker-policies (2018)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Prostitutes Lead Life of Ignorance, Brutality”, Ottawa Citizen, July 6 1982.
- “New Top Court Justices Reverse Male Prostitute’s Death Sentence”, Lodi News-Sentinel, July 7 1987.
- “Murder Stalks S.F. Prostitutes”, San Francisco Examiner, December 10 1995.
- “D.A. Slams Leniency on Rape Suspect”, Lodi News-Sentinel, October 11 1997.
- “Rape Case Prompts Calls for Legalizing Prostitution”, Lodi News-Sentinel, October 17 1997.
- “Despite Attacks, Prostitutes Still Working”, Lodi News-Sentinel, April 18 1998.
- “Violence Against Prostitutes Key in Serial Rape Trial”, Lodi News-Sentinel, August 4 1999.