St. Johnsbury, VT

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. Johnsbury is a community of  about 6,000 residents in northeastern Vermont.  Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city for years. For example, in February, 2013, a man was sentenced in U.S. District Court for arranging customers for prostituted women who would perform sex acts at various Vermont dairy farms on up to 10 farmworkers per day. He was the last of the four defendants to face sentencing for their roles in a prostitution ring that authorities began uncovering in 2011. The offender had spent six years as a state correctional officer in St. Johnsbury in the late 1990s.

Among the ways in which local authorities have addressed such problems is to combat the demand for commercial sex that drives all sex trafficking and prostitution.  Arrest, identity disclosure, and loss of employment are consequences of buying sex that have occurred in the city. For example, in August, 2021, a former captain with the Caledonia County sheriff’s department was charged with misdemeanor “suspicion of prostitution” and “prohibited conduct” based on allegations that he sought nude photographs and/or sex in exchange for money from women involved with the criminal justice system. The Vermont State Police announced that the man had been cited and ordered to appear in court to be charged.  The state police investigation began in April 2020 after the St. Johnsbury Police Department uncovered allegations involving the man during one of its investigations. The investigation was reportedly for several crimes, including extortion, threats, prostitution, and obstruction of justice. The man was suspended with pay in April 2020 after the allegations first surfaced, and subsequently left the department in October 2020. The Caledonia County Sheriff confirmed the man had left the department, but would not say why. The Caledonia County State’s Attorney’s Office asked the state police Bureau of Criminal Investigations to take the case. State police investigators worked with the Windham County State’s Attorney after the Caledonia County State’s Attorney’s Office recused itself.

Another initiative that focuses on demand in the town was “Demand No Demand,” which began as a project of a St. Johnsbury Prep student.  The initiative is designed to end the demand for modern day slavery around the world, starting in the U.S. The program proceeds from the assumption that modern day slavery is driven by demand, and that demand is fueled by tolerance of cultural messages normalizing, sexualizing, and idealizing commercial sex and exploitation. While combating demand relies on lawmakers and law enforcement and other institutions, Demand No Demand seeks to make a difference by enlisting the support of anyone to create cultural change and reduce tolerance for exploitation. The project attempts to fight demand by asking people to pledge non-participation in industries influencing this “cultural mindset.”  The pledge, represented by the acronym C.E.A.S.E., asks participants to:

  • Confront the impact of our culture on the demand for sex trafficking
  • Eliminate cultural messages that normalize and idealize commercial sex or that sexualize children
  • Avoid participation in any activity directly involved in the commodification of human beings
  • Stop any funding to industries associated with commercial sex including pornography, prostitution, and trafficking
  • Empower others to understand and take action against human trafficking.

The Demand No Demand website also provides educational resources (such as a description of john school programs) and links to other organizations and their resources.

Key Partners

  • Demand No Demand
  • Vermont State Police
  • Caledonia County Sheriff’s Office

Key Sources

Public Education & Community Action (Demand No Demand):

Arrest of Sex Buyer, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in Vermont:

State Decriminalization of Prostitution:

State Vermont
Type City
Population 6193
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