Stafford is a small city of about 4,300 residents within Stafford County, Virginia, located along the state’s northern border. Prostitution has been identified by law enforcement as a problem in the city and throughout the county, and residents have frequently complained to police. For example, in April, 2019, three people were arrested in Stafford in connection with a prostitution ring. Deputies with the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office responded to a disturbance at hotel on Simpson Road and learned several women were being employed as prostitutes at hotels in the area. The key suspect had recruited several women to perform sex acts for money and split the profits with them. He also promised to provide the women with drugs. During the investigation, the pimp had unwittingly agreed to supply two women to work as prostitutes to an undercover detective. He was taken into custody at a hotel, and was later charged with multiple counts of receiving money from the earnings of a prostitute and was held at Rappahannock Regional Jail without bond. Human trafficking of adults and minors has also occurs in the county, facilitated by its location along the Interstate 95 corridor, and by internet communications.
In response to such concerns, police have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex. In 1991, the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office began using street-level reverse stings to identify and apprehend local sex buyers. Operations typically utilize undercover female officers as decoys. Once arrested, johns 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 sex with children. 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 sex at a Stafford hotel. In February, 2019, a suspect was arrested by the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office on charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution. The suspect was a track coach and security officer at Colonial Forge High School. He was taken into custody on three felony warrants for soliciting a minor for prostitution.
- Stafford County Sheriff’s Office
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/local/virginia/va-high-school-track-coach-arrested-for-soliciting-minor-for-prostitution-2-more-victims-come-forward-officials-say/65-e9ce3673-9d57-4cb6-9626-ec9da8d8e650 (2019)
- https://www.staffordsheriff.com/apps/public/news/newsView.cfm?News_ID=1359 (2019)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://www.fredericksburg.com/news/crime_courts/man-charged-with-running-prostitution-operation-in-stafford/ (2019)
- https://www.starexponent.com/news/man-charged-with-running-prostitution-operation-in-stafford (2019)
- https://www.nbc12.com/2019/04/26/arrested-stafford-prostitution-bust/ (2019)
- https://www.nvdaily.com/nvdaily/four-arrested-over-alleged-bawdy-place (2019)