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Vandalia is a suburban city of roughly 15,000 residents in Montgomery County, Ohio, near Dayton. In addition to being the city closest to Dayton International Airport, Vandalia lies at the crossroads of I-75 and I-70, making it a major hub for business travel and a draw for commercial sex and sex trafficking — problems which have been well documented in Vandalia since the 1930s. Relatively recent examples include a prostitution sting conducted by the Montgomery County R.A.N.G.E. Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations in June 2021 in various locations throughout Harrison Township and the city of Dayton. The two-day operation focused on street-level prostitution and online prostitution-related advertisements which were posted on various websites. Undercover detectives and agents arrested seven individuals during the sting for a variety of prostitution and other charges.
Among the efforts to address prostitution and sex trafficking in Vandalia are those targeting the consumer-level demand that provides the revenue motivating all such crimes. For example, in June 2019 the Montgomery County R.A.N.G.E. Task Force, working with the Butler Township and Vandalia Police Departments, arrested nine people on prostitution and drug-related charges following a web-based sting. The sting was a part of an ongoing human trafficking investigation. The operation started after law enforcement learned of prostitution-related advertisements that were posted on various websites. Three of the arrested men were charged with soliciting and possession of criminal tools and were subsequently held at the Montgomery County Jail. Their photos and other identifiers were included in new reports.
Not all arrests of sex buyers are the result of proactive police decoy operations, but are instead the product of investigations targeting specific allegations of actual commercial sex and trafficking crimes and individual offenders. For example, in 2021 a former Phillipsburg Police officer was sentenced to 43 years in prison after he was found guilty of multiple counts including rape and aggravated burglary committed against prostituted women. The man was dressed in his police uniform in June 2017 and was driving his Phillipsburg police cruiser when he met with two women at a hotel in Vandalia. Authorities said he met the women over an ad posted on Backpage.com. After arriving at the hotel, the man told the front desk clerk he was there for an investigation and needed the key to the room where the women had checked in. When he entered the room, he told the women he was conducting an investigation into human trafficking and prostitution and was going to give them a warning. He left the room but then returned a few minutes later and sexually assaulted the women. The women reported the incident to Vandalia Police, telling officers they didn’t feel like they could resist Sanderson’s actions because he was a police officer. Just a few days after the women reported the officer’s crimes, a Vandalia Police officer was on routine patrol and spotted a Phillipsburg Police cruiser in the parking lot of the same hotel. The officer investigated and took the offender into custody. After the man’s arrest, two more victims came forward to report similar incidents to police. The man’s identity was included in news reports.
- Vandalia Police Department
- Butler Township Police Department
- Montgomery County R.A.N.G.E. Task Force
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.wdtn.com/news/crime/task-force-arrests-9-people-in-montgomery-county-prostitution-sting (2021)
- https://www.daytondailynews.com/crime/9-arrested-in-internet-prostitution-sting-in-montgomery-county (2021)
- https://www.whio.com/news/local/9-arrested-human-trafficking-investigation (2021)
- https://news.yahoo.com/9-arrested-internet-prostitution-sting (2021)
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- https://dayton247now.com/news/local/former-phillipsburg-officer-sentenced-to-43-years-in-prison-for-sex-crimes (2018)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
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