Sandy is a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah with a population of approximately 96,000, situated in Salt Lake County. Prostitution has posed considerable problems in the community for several years, generating related cases of sex trafficking and sexual assault.
In particular, multiple cases of violent forced prostitution of minors have been reported. In the mid-1990s, for example, a city resident was sentenced to prison for sexually exploiting two runaway girls, ages 13 and 14, who lived with him at his Sandy residence. The man, 32, reportedly “provided drugs and alcohol to the juveniles on numerous occasions. When they ran out of cocaine, he forced the two girls to go to a trailer in Midvale and trade sex for drugs.” One of the men who purchased sex from the victims was also arrested and charged with felony rape of a child; his identity was disclosed in press. According to court records, the “pimp” also sexually assaulted the victims himself and, on at least one occasion, when “one of the girls refused to have sex with him, picked up a baseball bat and started to hit her with it.”
In spring 2008, Sandy again drew attention for child sex trafficking when two residents from neighboring South Salt Lake were arrested and charged with “recruiting [women and] underage girls to give erotic massages that ended in sex acts.” The victims were advertised online in the Salt Lake Valley area, and included a 15-year-old, two 17-year-olds, and a 24-year-old woman. Officers with the Sandy Police Department became involved in the investigation after receiving an anonymous tip about minors being advertised for prostitution on Craigslist.
The following year, a trafficker was arrested after “kidnapping [a] Utah woman at knifepoint in the Salt Lake Valley and forcing her to work as a prostitute.” After kidnapping the woman, the man allegedly “hit her and shocked her with a stun gun to keep her from escaping.” Soon after, he brought her to a Sandy hotel where he began to advertise her “services” online. The victim repeatedly stated that she did not want to prostitute herself, and was not allowed to leave. She ultimately escaped a month later from a hotel in nearby Murray. In July 2010, the trafficker was sentenced to 30 months in prison after “pleading guilty to one count of transportation for illegal sexual activity. Charges of kidnapping and sex trafficking were dropped as part of a plea bargain.”
Although we could not find evidence of “traditional” reverse stings being conducted in Sandy, the SPD has supported demand-reduction efforts in Salt Lake City. On at least one occasion, in 2002, SPD officers shadowed their SLCPD peers during a street-level reversal. A female SPD officer also volunteered to work undercover as a decoy during the Salt Lake City operation. At that time, a SPD representative commented to the Deseret News:
“[Street prostitution] is not something we’re getting continual calls on, but we are just trying to prepare for some of the issues that are bound to happen. We’re just kind of trying to jump on it before it gets here.”
If anti-prostitution details have been conducted since 2002, they have not been reported in press. In 2013, an article in the Brigham Young University Journal of Public Law reported that only 5 prostitution-related arrests were made in Sandy in 2009, compared to 485 arrests in Salt Lake City and 46 in nearby Layton.
- Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office
- Sandy Police Department
- Salt Lake City Police Department
- Shadowing of Salt Lake City Police and Use of Female Officers from Sandy Police Department in SLC Reverse Stings:
- Shaming of Individuals who “Purchased” Sex from Minors:
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Trio Faces Charges of Rape, Exploitation of Runaway Girls,” Deseret News, March 19 1997.
- “Addict Gets Prison Term for Using 2 Runaway Girls,” Deseret News, June 23 1997.
- “Man, 2 Women Face Charges in S.L. Prostitution Case,” Deseret News, October 26 1997.
- “Pair Arrested for Allegedly Running Prostitution Ring; One Worker Just 15,” Salt Lake Tribune, May 28 2008.
- “Man Charged with Using Teens in Prostitution Ring,” Salt Lake Tribune, July 30 2008.
- “Prostitution Case Will Go to Trial,” Salt Lake Tribune, July 30 2008.
- “2 Utahans Indicted in Sex Trafficking of Children,” Deseret News, March 30 2009.
- “Couple Charged in Teen Sex Ring,” NBC/KSL-TV 5, March 30 2009.
- “10 People Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Deseret News, September 19 2009.
- “Man Accused of Forcing Utah Woman into Prostitution,” Salt Lake Tribune, September 24 2009.
- “California Man in Kidnapping-for-Prostitution Case Has First Hearing,” Deseret News, September 28 2009.
- “Man Pleads Guilty to Working as Utah Woman’s ‘Pimp,'” Deseret News, March 25 2010.
- “‘Pimp’ Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison,” Salt Lake Tribune, July 14 2010.
- “Utah Task Force Rescues More Child Prostitutes,” NBC/KSL-TV 5, September 29 2010.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: