Steubenville, OH

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

Steubenville is a city of approximately 18,000 residents and is the county seat of Jefferson County, located in eastern Ohio almost 40 miles west of Pittsburgh. Prostitution has been a persistent and visible problem in the area for decades, and has been linked to local related crimes including targeted homicides of women offering commercial sex and sex trafficking of minors.

Guided by community complaints, the Steubenville Police Department has periodically conducted street-level reverse stings in an effort to curtail demand for commercial sex. Operations have typically employed an undercover female officer who poses as a decoy prostituted woman. When sex buyers attempt to solicit sex from her, they are apprehended by police. To deter other would-be sex buyers, police have routinely released arrestees’ names and other identifying information to the local media.

In January 2011, the Steubenville Police Department conducted a phone-based sting that culminated in the arrest of a sex buyer attempting to buy sex from someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl. After officers were notified that the man was actively searching the city’s downtown area for underaged girls to sexually exploit, the department launched a reverse sting. A police employee posed as a 14-year-old girl and made contact with the man by phone. The buyer then solicited sex from the officer and arranged for the two to meet. When he arrived, he was arrested by police. His name was also disclosed to the local media. This event illustrates the presence of a local market for commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Key Partners

  •  Steubenville Police Department



Key Sources

Brothel Raids with Sex Buyer Arrests:

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Ohio
Type City
Population 17962
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