Skokie is a village of approximately 65,000 residents, located in the northern suburbs of Chicago near Evanston and Wilmette in Cook County, Illinois. Incidents of prostitution and sex trafficking have been reported in the community for several years, and have generated serious complaints to police. In January 2007, for example, an adult male trafficker was arrested at a Skokie hotel on suspicion of child sex trafficking. In August 2013, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “forcing a 16-year-old girl and two other women to prostitute themselves on a six-week cross-country road trip,” culminating in his arrest in Skokie.
Cases of prostitution-related violence have also been reported. Since January 2015 alone, the Skokie Police Department has investigated at least two cases of targeted violence against women engaged in prostitution. Early in the year, a woman selling sex was robbed by three men at a Skokie motel. Months later, a second woman was “held against her will” at gunpoint by a pimp at the same facility. The pimp was charged with “promoting prostitution and aggravated use of a weapon,” according to media outlets.
In 2018, members of an international sex trafficking ring said their prostitutes operated out of an upscale apartment complex in Skokie. The ring was taken down by law enforcement in May 2017 after hundreds of women had been trafficked from Thailand to cities all over the U.S., including Chicago. The Skokie apartment building was used by the traffickers for three years, starting in 2014. The building’s name surfaced in a guilty plea from one of 21 defendants charged in May 2017 in Minneapolis with running a nationwide sex trafficking ring.
Although efforts to curtail underlying demand for prostitution in Skokie remain limited, law enforcement have taken some preliminary steps to target sex buyers. In May 2015, for example, SPD officers, with the support of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Homeland Security’s Human Trafficking Unit, raided an alleged brothel and– after arresting the woman said to be selling sex– intercepted three johns using the city’s “disorderly house ordinance.” Following their arrests, the men’s names, ages, addresses, and arrest photos were released to the press, and publicized in the Chicago Tribune.
- Skokie Police Department
- Cook County Sheriff’s Office
- Department of Homeland Security’s Human Trafficking Unit
- Brothel Busts with John Arrests and Shaming:
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Prostitution Sting Could Lead to Parlor Regulation,” Skokie Review, April 25 1996.
- “Weekly Digest,” Skokie Review, July 24 1997.
- “Prostitution Not Zoning Matter, Panel Says,” Skokie Review, July 19 2001.
- “Prostitution Sting in Skokie Closes Massage Parlors,” Skokie Patch, November 7 2011.
- “Prostitution Arrests Made at Two Massage Parlors,” Skokie Review, November 10 2011.
- “Man Accused of Prostituting Teen to Buy Drugs,” CBS/WBBM-TV 2, September 27 2013.
- https://patch.com/illinois/skokie/skokie-woman-charged-prostitution-0 (2015)
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: