St. Cloud, MN

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

St. Cloud is a city of approximately 69,000 residents, located in central Minnesota’s Stearns County about 60 miles northwest of the Twin Cities. Numerous cases of prostitution and sex trafficking, often arranged online, have been documented in the community for many years. In a relatively recent example in 2019, a 25-year-old man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for multiple sex trafficking and prostitution promotion charges involving adult women and at least one juvenile victim. The St. Cloud resident pleaded guilty to a felony count of sex trafficking of a woman and inflicting bodily harm upon her. He also entered a guilty plea for aiding and abetting the promotion of prostitution of a juvenile. According to a criminal complaint, police began investing human trafficking reports involving a teenager in 2017. The girl told authorities she was being trafficked by the man and a woman accomplice. Court documents stated the woman would post advertisements on and arrange meetings between the teen and men who would sexually assault her. The teen told police she would be hit by both the male and female traffickers if she refused to engage in prostitution. In a separate case in 2019, two people from St. Cloud were arrested on charges relating to felony level Promotion of Prostitution, for offenses at a massage business serving as a brothel.

On at least two occasions, local law enforcement have targeted sex buyers for arrest. In June 2015, officers with the Central Minnesota Sex Trafficking Task Force intercepted a man after he allegedly responded to an online advertisement placed by law enforcement. The ad suggested a 20-year-old woman was available for prostitution; in communications with an undercover officer, however, the sex buyer reportedly arranged for commercial sex acts with both the “20-year-old” and what he thought was her 16-year-old “friend.” He was arrested after arranging to meet the girls at a St. Cloud-area motel. His name was publicized in press. In November 2015, the St. Cloud Times reported the offender had pleaded guilty to a”felony count of attempting to hire a prostitute between the ages of 16-17,” and had been sentenced to 45 days in jail. Times reporters also indicated that the man’s arrest was “one of dozens made by the task force during undercover operations in the St. Cloud area… most [of which] involved men trying to hire adult prostitutes.”

In early March 2016, CMSTTF officers intercepted a second offender using similar tactics. Law enforcement placed an online advertisement for a fictitious adult in prostitution and her “friend.” A man replied to the listing, and “asked an undercover officer posing as [a] 22-year-old if her friend was over 18. The officer said the girl was 17 but would be 18 in a few months.” The sex buyer communicated an offer of cash for sex acts with both females, and arranged to meet at an undisclosed location in St. Cloud. When he arrived, he was apprehended by law enforcement. His name and mugshot, as well as the felony prostitution charge levied against him, were publicized in press.

In 2016 a “john school” program for convicted sex buyers was established. The “Not Buying It” Demand Reduction School began offering classes in March of that year. Since 2018, the program has been called “Men Accountable for Sexual Exploitation” (MASE). The MASE program is provided by the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center, and classes are held periodically at the Waite Park Police Department Training Room. The class must be completed as a condition of a sentence (and is not an optional diversion program that can lead to dropped charges). The one-day program features seven hours of instruction on topics including:

  • Negative consequences of the sex industry.
  • Survivors discussing the impact of offenders’ exploitation.
  • Attitudes, behaviors, and social forces that lay the foundation for abuse and exploitation.
  • Addiction.
  • Pornography.
  • Health concerns.
  • Legal and criminal consequences of solicitation.
  • Recognizing and interrupting their individual thought and decision-making process to prevent re-offense (relapse prevention.

The class cost is $750, payable at the beginning of class, and the proceeds fund victim services for survivors of sexual violence and exploitation served at CMSAC. If needed, participants must arrange to provide their own certified interpreter. Certificates of completion are provided after successful participation at the end of the class, and participants are responsible for providing that proof of completion to their probation officers.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Disclosing Identities:

Street Level Reverse Stings, Disclosing Identities:

John School Program:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Minnesota
Type City
Population 68818
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