South Bend, IN

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

South Bend is a city of approximately 100,000 residents, located in north-central Indiana. Prostitution has been identified as a substantial problem in the city since the 1980s. Business owners and residents have reported an increase in commercial sex sales in recent years, with activities centered in the northwest part of the city. Sex trafficking cases involving teens, and prostitution-related robberies, have also been documented in the city.

In an effort to identify and apprehend sex buyers, the South Bend Police Department began conducting street-level reverse stings in 1991. Operations in the 1990s typically deployed an undercover female officer, who served as a decoy for street prostitution. When sex buyers attempted to solicit sex from her, they were quickly arrested.

In 2013, the South Bend Police Department conducted its first reverse sting using social media. The sting operation began in response to the department receiving complaints and tips about people using for the solicitation of prostitution. The complaints had specific locations in South Bend, including apartments, hotels and rental properties being used. The sting operation took place through the website, with officers setting up a fake contact and cell phone number on the site. The men then contacted the fake number, set prices and services, and then met police at a hotel located on Lincoln Way W., South Bend. The arrested men were charged with solicitation of a prostitute.  After the 2013 web based operation, South Bend Police Chief Ronald Teachman released a statement in which he said:

“As the sex for a fee industry moves from the streets to online, we adjust our demand reduction tactics accordingly. I hope this operation and those that will follow send a message to potential customers: The women of South Bend are cherished and they are not for sale.”

In 2000, a news report discussed a South Bend-area “john school” program.  The program was described as an eight-hour session where “the consequences of soliciting a prostitute, as well as health risks and the impact such behavior has on people and families” are discussed. It was structured as a pretrial diversion option with a community service component (like the Norfolk and Indianapolis programs). The program was reportedly modeled after the San Francisco john school.

Employment loss is another consequence of sex buying that has occurred in the city. In May 2022, a well-known youth hockey coach was arrested in a child sex trafficking sting in Berrien County, Michigan. The man thought he was meeting a 15-year-old girl for sex, which was agreed to in exchange for $80 and some soda, but was instead arrested after arriving at the agreed upon location. His identity and mugshot were released to the press. At the time of his arrest, the man was the Director of Hockey Operations at the IceBox Skating Rink in South Bend, the coach of the Irish Youth Hockey League at the IceBox, and the coach of the travel team North American Alliance Hockey Club, which he and his wife ran. After his arrest, an email sent to families from the Irish Youth Hockey League confirmed the man was no longer the Director of Hockey Operations at the IceBox.

Key Partners

Key Sources

John School:

Street-Level Reverse Stings and Auto Seizure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Neighborhood Action and Identity Disclosure:

Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Indiana
Type City
Population 103453
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