Stafford County, VA

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

Stafford County is a county of approximately 157,000 residents, located along Virginia’s northern border. Prostitution has been identified by law enforcement as a problem in the county, and residents have frequently complained to police.  Human trafficking also occurs in the county, facilitated by its location along the Interstate 95 corridor. Local prostitution and sex trafficking cases have involved exploiting minors with disabilities, related drug offenses, and the production of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often called “child prostitution” in state legal codes).  In response to such concerns, police have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex. In 1991, the Stafford County Sheriff’s Department incorporated the use of street-level reverse stings to identify and apprehend local sex buyers. Operations typically utilize undercover female officers as decoys. Once arrested, sex buyers may have their names and other identifying information released to the media. More recently, web-based reverse stings have been conducted, some of which involve investigators posing as minors and arresting predators seeking to purchase access to children for sexual abuse. For example, in March 2012, Stafford detectives conducted a web-based reverse sting to arrest a man attempting to solicit sex from a minor. The man contacted an undercover officer he believed to be a 13-year-old girl, and was intercepted when he arranged to meet the officer for paid sexual abuse at a Stafford hotel.

In August, 2022, the former chief of a Stafford County volunteer fire department was indicted on four felony charges, three of which carry potential life sentences: three counts of forcible sodomy, and engaging a minor in prostitution. The man was accused of molesting a teenage boy between 2016 and 2017, when the defendant was a volunteer with the Hartwood Volunteer Fire Department, and was the chief of the Brooke Volunteer Fire Department when he was arrested in 2021. The first incident took place at a home in Remington. The victim said that after he passed out, he woke up naked and tied to a bed while the suspect was standing over him with a digital camera. He claimed that the man threatened to make the pictures public if the teen refused to continue engaging in sexual activities. Subsequent incidents occurred in Fauquier and Stafford, VA. Court filings aimed at obtaining the victim’s mental health records described the victim as a “seriously impaired young man who has been in and out of legal trouble since at least his early teens,” abused illegal drugs and alcohol throughout his life. The offender’s identity was publicly disclosed.

In 2016, legislation was proposed and then approved by the Virginia State Crime Commission that would create a statewide sex trafficking response coordinator, who would be tasked with creating a response plan when a trafficking victim is identified and guidelines for treatment programs.  The coordinator would also oversee the creation of the proposed “John schools” for people convicted of soliciting prostitution.  The school, which they would be ordered to attend by a judge (and would not be a “diversion” option resulting in dismissed charges), would teach “the consequences and the background of what they’re really buying,” according to the commission’s deputy director.  The training, education and awareness programs would be funded by new fines assessed on people convicted of either soliciting prostitution ($100) or trafficking ($500).


Key Partners

  • Stafford County Sheriff’s Office


Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

  • “Six Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, The Free Lance-Star, July 24 1991.

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, Related Drug Offenses, CSAM, Victimizing Persons with Disabilities:

State Virginia
Type County
Population 156927
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