Sheboygan County, WI

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

Sheboygan County, Wisconsin as well-documented problems associated with commercial sex, including human trafficking.  For example, in July, 2019, a suspected human trafficker was arrested in Sheboygan County.  During an investigation into suspected child neglect, police learned that the woman had left her two children with various people while she used drugs and engaged in prostitution. The defendant also allegedly coerced two adults into having sex for money between Oct. 1 2018 and July 25 2019, and arranged sex acts between girls and men she met on-line. In addition to the human trafficking charge, for which she could face up to 25 years in state prison if convicted, she was also charged with felony physical abuse of a child and felony solicitation of prostitutes.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. For example, in September 2017, the Wisconsin’s Attorney General announced the arrest of 25 males in sex trafficking operations conducted across the state. The web-based reverse stings were focused in northern and eastern Wisconsin, and operations focused on people seeking children for sex and johns who solicit prostituted persons. Some of the sex buyers arrested were seeking sex with 14-and 15-year-old children.  Charges include soliciting a prostitute, pandering, soliciting a child for prostitution, attempted second degree sexual assault of a child, child enticement, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, exposing a child to harmful material, and exposing a child to harmful narrations. The Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office was one of the agencies collaborating in these operations. The Wisconsin reverse sting were part of the National Johns Suppression Initiative. In a news release announcing the results of the operations, the Attorney General said:

“The only reason human trafficking exists is because there is a demand for buying sex. Those creating the demand – the johns who buy victims and the pimps who are exploiting them – are not safe to exploit and coerce people in our state. When I was sworn in as attorney general, I put johns on notice. We are coming for you, and for some – we already got you. DOJ’s Human Trafficking Bureau’s arrests this summer will not be the last.”

In July, 2021, an undercover operation targeting human trafficking specifically related to prostitution led to five people being arrested. According to the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office, two of the people were from Sheboygan County and the three others were from nearby counties.  Charges were filed included four counts of Pandering – Soliciting, and one count of Solicitation of Prostitutes.  Investigators used popular online websites that were specifically created for the purpose of connecting people for the purpose of having sexual encounters in exchange for money.  At least eight agencies collaborated on the operation included:

  • Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation
  • Plymouth Police Department
  • Kohler Police Department
  • Sheboygan Falls Police Department
  • Elkhart Lake Police Department
  • Sheboygan Police Department
  • Wisconsin State Patrol
  • Sheboygan County District Attorney’s Office

In September, 2021, a reverse sting led to the arrest of another six sex buyers.

Some arrests of sex buyers in Sheboygan County are the result of investigations driven by tips about specific suspects.  For example, in April, 2021, a Sheboygan man was sentenced to one year of probation on felony prostitution charges.  He had been arrested in September 2020, and court documents said he had responded to ads on Craigslist for sex.  The 17 year old sex trafficking victim said the man would pay her trafficker hundreds of dollars for the encounters, but she never received any of the money.

Key Partners

  • Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office
  • Sheboygan County District Attorney’s Office
  • Sheboygan Police Department
  • Sheboygan Falls Police Department
  • Eagle River Police Department
  • Juneau County Sheriff’s Office
  • Dane County Sheriff’s Office
  • Kohler Police Department
  • McFarland Police Department
  • Monona Police Department
  • Rock County District Attorney
  • Sturgeon Bay Police Department
  • Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation
  • Wisconsin State Patrol
  • Plymouth Police Department
  • Elkhart Lake Police Department

Key Sources

Web Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Other Arrests of Sex Buyers, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

State Wisconsin
Type County
Population 117747
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