Southington is a town of approximately 44,000 residents, situated near Waterbury and Meriden in Hartford County, Connecticut. In recent years, law enforcement and community members have reported problems with prostitution activity arranged online and occurring in and around local hotels and motels. Among the efforts to address local prostitution and sex trafficking of minors have been operations targeting sex buyers. For example, following a series of complaints from residents and business owners in late fall 2014, the Southington Police Department staged a web-based reverse sting to arrest sex buyers. During the operation, a female undercover officer “posing as a prostitute set up meetings with several men at a local motel.” Six men were arrested after arriving at the motel and offering the officer money in exchange for sex. All of the men’s names, ages, and arrest photos were released the public.
In February, 2021 a 60-year-old man was accused by federal authorities of trying to set up a sex date with a fictitious young girl arranged by the FBI at a Southington motel. He faced state charges in Connecticut for criminal attempt at commercial sex abuse of minor, and criminal attempt at second-degree sexual assault. A separate federal complaint charged the man with one count of attempted commercial sex trafficking of a minor, which carries a mandatory minimum prison term of 15 years and a maximum term of life, and one count of distribution of child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. Federal officials had launched an investigation into the man’s activities in late 2020 after receiving information that he was sharing videos of “child sex abuse” on a incest-themed website. In November 2020, an undercover FBI agent began interacting with the suspect on the social media application Kik. During the chat sessions, he made statements that he had sexually abused children, and that he had “trafficked” a child to “engage in commercial sex acts” and admitted to traveling out of state to have sex with another 12-year-old girl. The undercover investigator told the suspect that he had a 12-year-old daughter and, after introducing the idea that the girl could be “trafficked” for sex, the suspect offered suggestions to the undercover investigator about how it could be accomplished. The suspect then arranged to have sexually abuse the child at the Southington motel in exchange for $200. The undercover investigator also was sent videos of child sex abuse that the suspect maintained on a file sharing website. The suspect was arrested by Southington police and FBI agents shortly after he paid the undercover investigator the $200.
- Southington Police Department
United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut
Federal Bureau of Investigation (New Haven Division)
- Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “‘Johns’ Arrested in Southington Undercover Prostitution Sting,” CBS/WFSB-TV 3, November 17 2014.
- “Southington Police Arrest 6 in Prostitution Bust,” NBC/WVIT-TV 30, November 17 2014.
- “Southington Police Arrest 6 in Undercover Prostitution Investigation,” Hartford Courant, November 17 2014.
- “Police Arrest 6 Men in Prostitution Sting,” Meriden Herald-Journal, November 18 2014.
- https://patch.com/connecticut/southington/fed-charges-added-child-sex-date-case-southington-motel (2021)
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Southington Police: Alleged Hookers Were Advertising as ‘Escorts’,” New Britain Herald, September 22 2014.
- “Three Charged with Prostitution in Police Operation in Southington,” Meriden Herald-Journal, September 23 2014.
- “Man Charged in False Report of Southington Home Invasion,” NBC/WVIT-TV 30, September 25 2014.
- “3 Women Charged with Prostitution during Investigation at Southington Motel,” CBS/WFSB-TV 3, October 20 2014.