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Trinity County is a county in east Texas of approximately 14,000 residents. Its county seat is Groveton, TX. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity has been well-documented in incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and its ancillary crimes has resulted in complaints to local law enforcement from residents and businesses. Among the concerns from community members are drugs, violence, and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. For example, in 2007, an article from KTRE9, highlighted the negative impacts resulting from the county’s increasing commercial sex market, especially within the small town of Trinity, TX. According to then-Trinity Police Chief Deputy James Gratz, “There’s a lot of misconceptions about prostitution. In the city of Trinity, we don’t have people standing on the side of the road prostituting or trying to flag down people to trade sex for money. What we have found in the areas of the community where drugs are prevalent, there are young ladies that do trade themselves for drugs.” Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking of adults and minors.
In effort to reduce demand for commercial sex in the county, sex buyers have been arrested as the result of alternative investigations and residential complaints to local law enforcement. For example, in 2016, the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division received multiple complaints over the prior several months alleging that a former Trinity County Defense Attorney had been contacting women within the community and propositioning them for sexual acts in exchange for money. In response to these complaints, detectives conducted an undercover operation using an audio wire in which enough information was obtained that the Trinity County District Attorney’s Office issued a warrant for the man’s arrest on charges of soliciting prostitution, sexual battery, engaging in prostitution, and agreeing to engage in prostitution. Deputies and CHP Officers were advised of the warrant on Friday, March 25, 2016, and the sex buyer was subsequently located downtown Weaverville.
The former DA’s charges were as follows:
- 647(b) PC – Soliciting Prostitution
- 243.4(e) PC – Sexual Battery
- 647(b) PC – Engaging and Agreeing to Engage in Prostitution
- 23152(a) VC & 23152(b) VC – Operate a Vehicle Under the Influence w/ BAC over .08%
A CHP Officer with assistance from deputies from the TCSO, conducted a traffic stop on the sex buyer where the sex buyer was found to be driving while under the influence and was subsequently arrested on the warrant and DUI charges. The sex buyer’s identity and image were included in reports by local media outlets.
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- Trinity County Defense Attorney Arrested On Charges Of Soliciting Sex For Money And Also For Drunk Driving (2016)
- https://lostcoastoutpost.com/2016/mar/28/trinity-county-public-defender-arrested-propositio/ (2016)
- Former public defender arrested on DUI, solicitation charges (2016)
- https://krcrtv.com/archive/former-trinity-co-public-defender-arrested-for-dui-solicitation (2016)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- Inmate charged with running brothel from his prison cell (1985)
- Prostitution is a Problem in Trinity (2007)
- TCSO – DPS State Trooper Seamans Arrested Man for Promoting Prostitution (2018)
- TCSO – Deputy McVicker arrested Jermaine Leonard for Promotion of Prostitution (SJF) (2020)
- Facebook TCSO – Promoting Prostitution Arrest (2020)
- https://local.nixle.com/alert/7809844/ (2020)