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Saint Paul, the state capital of Minnesota, is a city of about 307,000 residents that forms the “Twin Cities” with neighboring Minneapolis. St. Paul and its surrounding areas (including the other cities and unincorporated areas of Ramsey County and Hennepin County) has experienced a wide range of problems associated with its robust local commercial sex market, including child sex trafficking, sexually exploited and trafficked persons specifically targeted for assault and murder, and infants endangered during commercial sex exchanges. Male sex buyers have also been murdered and robbed during prostitution transactions.
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies and community groups as a strategy for prevention and response. The city is one of the pioneers of the john school model used to combat demand for commercial sex. In 1988 is started the second john school program in the United States (preceded only by the John Group in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which began in 1981). At times, the city has had two john school programs running concurrently, one led by Steve Sawyer (Sawyer Solutions, LLC, a program what began in different form in 1988 and was operated through the Project Pathfinder program until about 2012, and then “Sawyer Solutions” afterward) and one founded by Vednita Carter (Breaking Free’s John School, launched in 1999 and operating through 2018, and then was revised and renamed to Men Breaking Free, and has operated from 2018 to the present).
“Breaking Free” John School: Offenders’ Prostitution Program
The Breaking Free john school program was launched in 1999 and was modeled after the San Francisco First Offender Prostitution Program (FOPP), which began in 1995. It served the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, primarily. The Breaking Free program began accepting men arrested in Rochester and Olmsted County, Minnesota, in 2011, and also continued to accept referrals from Minneapolis and St. Paul as well as other communities throughout Minnesota. Designed to address sex buying issues from multiple angles, the Offenders’ Prostitution Program, in St. Paul is being used as a condition of court sentences given to Olmsted County offenders. The one-day class covered a variety of topics, such as:
- The dangers involved in hiring a prostitute, such as getting beaten and robbed, contracting a venereal disease, or hiring a minor who looks like an adult, an offense that leads to more serious penalties.
- An overview of Minnesota law banning the solicitation of prostitutes.
- Extended discussion of sexually transmitted diseases, including how they spread, what the symptoms are, and what can happen if they are not treated.AIDS tests are commonly offered, with results given to men at the end of the day.
- Presentations by women formerly involved in prostitution, and videos showing the impact of prostitution.
- A presentation by a former john and discussion of sexual addiction.
- Discussion of how prostitution can damage communities.
Offenders were asked to fill out forms to gather statistical information on men who hire prostituted persons and to determine whether the class affected their thinking about prostitution. At the end of the day, men were given a letter certifying they took the class, which was offered to first-time offenders as part of a sentence in which they avoid jail time by successfully completing the program.
Men Breaking Free
After nearly 20 year of experience, Breaking Free determined that their lecture format classes were not addressing the personal adjustments required to affect real change. In early 2018 Breaking Free entered into a partnership with Building Peaceful Community to review and update its John School approach. Through this effort, a transformation was made to the program, whose name was changed from “John School” to “Men Breaking Free.” This was intended to reflect a fundamental shift in the approach taken with participating men. The new program is built on the premise that the men in the class – or anyone else – should be “defined by the worst decisions and moments in our lives.”
Sawyer Solutions Treatment Program for Sex Buyers
Sawyer Solutions offers a unique and individualized intervention program for men who buy sex. The program is designed to help men choose more productive coping styles, and to identify behavioral issues that can be addressed through additional therapy and referrals. The program begins with an introduction and initial assessment session, and consists of four to six weekly group sessions. The sessions are led by an experienced group therapist and include lectures, reading and writing assignments, multimedia teaching tools, and group discussion. The program offers:
- Strategies for changing behavior
- Examination of emotional and relational contributing factors and consequences
- Self-assessment tools
- Accurate information about the damage that prostitution causes to women and society
- St. Paul Police Department
- Minneapolis Police Department
- Ramsey County District Attorney
- Olmsted County Prosecutor’s Office
- Midtown Community Justice
- Breaking Free
- Action Network to End Sexual Exploitation in Minnesota (ANESEM)
- Sawyer Solutions, LLC
- “‘John School’ Aims to Reduce Prostitution”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 24 1999.
- “John School Teaches Offenders Price of Prostitution”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 27 2009.
- Sawyer, S., Simon Rosser, B.R., & Schroeder, A. (1998). A brief psychoeducational program for men who patronize prostitutes. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 26 ¾:111-125.
- Sawyer, S., Metz, M.E., Hinds, J.D., & Brucker, R.A. (2001). Attitudes towards prostitution among males: A “consumers’ report.” Current Psychology, 20(4):363-376.
- http://sawyersolutions.org/ (2022)
- Men Breaking Free (2022)
Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “St. Paul Police Mapping Plans for Another Prostitution Roundup”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, April 19 1988.
- “2 Arrested in Male Prostitution ‘Sting'”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 7 1988.
- “Sting Short-Circuits: ‘Radio Call Girls'”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, September 13 1989.
- “Boy, 13, and Father and Son Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 21 1990.
- “Nine Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 10 1997.
- “On the Street: Police Say Sting Operations Don’t Work”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, October 25 1997.
- “St. Paul Police Try to Find A Lasting Prostitution Solution”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 1 1998.
- “Physician Arrested in Vice Sting”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, February 14 2004.
- “Seeds of Change: Crime Has Declined, But Frogtown Still Struggles”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 9 2004.
- “METRO/REGIONAL BRIEFING: St. Paul Politician Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, August 16 2007.
- “Council Member Is Arrested in Sting”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, February 27 2008.
- “Judge: City Official Must Face Prostitution Charge”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 26 2008.
- “St. Paul Labor Figure Pressured to Resign”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 12 2010.
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- “Former Aide to GOP Officials Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, August 16 2007.
- “As Hookers Move from Streets to Net, Cops Follow; Dozens Nabbed in St. Paul Sex Sting Prompted by Craigslist Complaints”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, October 5 2007.
- “METRO BRIEFING: St. Paul”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 5 2008.
- “St. Paul Prostitution Sting Nets Prior Lake Pastor”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 3 2009.
- “Cops: Prostitution Sting Nabs WBL Assistant Girls’ Hockey Coach”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 19 2010.
- “Despite Stings, Sex Still Selling Well in St. Paul”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 26 2010.
- “Hastings Man Falls for Prostitution Sting– Twice, Prosecutors Say”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, February 1 2013.
- “Former St. Paul-Ramsey Chief Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 8 2013.
- “Alberta MLA Caught in U.S. Hooker Sting Gets Ringing Endorsement”, Yahoo! Daily Brew, October 11 2013.
- “Canadian Politician Pleads Guilty After July Arrest in Prostitution Sting”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 18 2013.
- https://kstp.com/st-paul-man-charged-with-prostitution-of-minors-after-undercover-sting (2022)
- “Prostitution Fight May Hit Internet, TV; St. Paul Police Plan to Publicize Patrons’ Photos”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, October 17 1997.
- “High-Tech ‘Shaming’; On the Web, St. Paul Police ID Prostitutes, Johns”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, October 25 1997.
- “St. Paul Police to Air Prostitution Sweep; Cable Broadcast Adds to Force’s Anti-Vice Campaign”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 1 1998.
- “Grand Rapids May Put Prostitute Arrests on Internet”, Ludington Daily News, July 24 1999.
- “Online Site for ‘Johns’ in the Works; Police Hope to Deter Offenders Via Publicity”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 17 2004.
- https://www.issuelab.org/resources/1191/1191.pdf (2008)
- “Bill Would Allow ‘John Sweeps’, Car Seizures”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 6 1993.
- “St. Paul Police Seize Vehicles After Arrests in Prostitution Sting”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 2 1993.
- “Police Seize More Cars in Prostitution Arrests”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 17 1994.
- “Semitrailer Truck Impounded in St. Paul Prostitution Sweep”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 22 1994.
- “City Resumes Seizing Cars in Attack on Prostitution; Earlier Crackdown Struck Down by Court”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 22 1994.
- “Car Seizures Not a Deterent to Prostitution; Sweeps in Minneapolis, St. Paul Target ‘Johns'”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 20 1994.
- “Twin Cities Neighborhoods Wage Dogged Fight Against Prostitution”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 27 1986.
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Witness in St. Paul Sex Case Arrested”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 14 1988.
- “Prostitute, 17, Says Pimp Was Captor; Police Arrest Woman, 22, After Internet Tip”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 20 2007.
- “Teen Prostitutes Get New Status”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 26 2011.
- “Runaway Girls Focus of Fight to Curb Sex Trafficking”, Park Rapids Enterprise, January 14 2013.
- “St. Paul Prostitution Ring Busted; Young, Vulnerable Girls Trafficked, Charges Say”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, April 10 2013.
- “Victims Step Forward to Help Bust St. Paul Sex-Trafficking Ring”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 10 2013.
- “Minnesota Law for Sex Trafficking Victims”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 11 2013.
- “Woodbury Woman Who Allowed Prostitution of Teen Gets Six Months in Workhouse”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 6 2013.
- “4 Minn. Family Members Now Convicted in Sex Trafficking Case”, CBS/WCCO-TV 4, November 20 2013.
- “In St. Paul Sex Trafficking Case, a Record 40-Year Prison Term”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 9 2014.
- “Man Gets Longest-Ever Sex Trafficking Sentence in MN History”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 9 2014.
- “Minneapolis Pimp Held 2 Women Captive at Hotel, Charges Say”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, February 7 2014.
- “Man Sentenced in Sex Trafficking Case,” Rochester Post Bulletin, November 13 2014.
- “St. Paul Prostitution Ring Busted by Runaway, 17, Police Say,” St. Paul Pioneer-Press, November 19 2014.
- “Twin Cities Sex-Trafficking Case Goes to Jury; Pair Accused of Prostituting Girl, 15,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 23 2014.
- “St. Paul Man Admits Role in Prostitution Ring,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 14 2015.
- “Two More Plead Guilty to Role in Recruiting Girl for Prostitution,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, February 13 2015.
- “Man Accused of Trafficking Girls 12, 16, in Minnesota,” Bemidji Pioneer, February 21 2015.
- “Five from St. Paul Charged in Sex Trafficking Ring,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 3 2015.
- “Two Charged with Hiring Minor as Prostitute,” Grand Forks Herald, April 15 2015.
- “Man who Pimped Teens in St. Paul Loses First Amendment Claim,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 13 2015.
- “St. Paul Man Charged with Prostituting Forest Lake Girl,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 23 2015.
- “Jurors Convict St. Paul Prostitution Ringleader,” Bemidji Pioneer, February 10 2016.
- “3 Twin Cities Men Cleared of Interstate Sex Trafficking; Their Convictions Were Overturned after Witness Proved Unreliable,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 2 2016.
- https://www.postbulletin.com/olmsted-county-works-to-eliminate-human-trafficking-in-the-region (2023)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Details Emerge in Porter Killing”, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 5 2007.
- “Prostitute Charged in May Beating”, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 7 2007.
- “Porter Had Chance to Save Self, Woman Says at Sentencing; A Prostitute Who Lured Howard Porter to the House Where He Was Beaten Says the Ex-College Basketball Star and Probation Officer Stayed to Try to Help Her; The Robbery Led to His Death”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 14 2008.
- “Woman Found Dead Inside Towed Vehicle Was a Prostitute, Police Say”, Twin Cities City Pages, March 7 2013.
- https://news.yahoo.com/2-more-charged-murder-downtown (2021)