Virginia Beach is an independent city in the southwest, coastal region of the Commonwealth of Virginia, near Norfolk, and has a population of approximately 450,000. Cases of sex trafficking and prostitution have occurred in the city have been documented for decades, as have incidents of assault of prostituted persons, kidnapping for prostitution, and HIV positive women continuing to sell sex. For example, in May 2013 a man was sentenced to 35 years in prison for prostituting a woman against her will. The account of the case provided by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said the man trafficked the woman in several states and eventually came to Virginia Beach, where he posted the woman’s profile online and set up several “dates” per day. He took her cellphone, money, identification and personal belongings and kept her away from anyone who was not a client, and often forced the woman to use illegal drugs, dye her hair, wear colored contacts, lose weight and speak with a foreign accent. The victim called police from a local inn, and she said that she was being forced to prostitute and that the trafficker had all of her property and refused to let her leave. In 2020, a man was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted of pistol whipping then raping a woman he had hired for prostitution.
In August, 2020 a man from Canada pleaded guilty to orchestrating an online sextortion scheme that involved the production of images involving sexual abuse; the charges date back to 2012, and the man fought extradition to the United States until December 2019 when a judge ordered him to be extradited and he ultimately was adjudicated. The Virginia Beach Police Department began an investigation into the extortion of 13-year-old and 17-year-old sisters in 2012 after their father reported the crimes, saying the girls met someone online who threatened them and forced them to engage in activities that were sexually explicit and to produce images of child sexual abuse. Virginia Beach police worked with Homeland Security Investigations and traced the threats to the offender in Ontario. The man was a medical student at the time, and investigators found that he had done similar things with children across the United States. He was charged in federal court in Norfolk in July 2012 and arrested in Canada, where he remained until his extradition.
In another case, a Maryland man pleaded guilty to charges that he helped organize a commercial prostitution scheme throughout Virginia, including Virginia Beach.The commercial sex operation, according to prosecutors, consisted of at least 100 women throughout Virginia and nearby states. The pimp advertised by handing out business cards at Spanish restaurants, check cashing stores, and construction and day laborer sites. The ring employed drivers and others who would meet prostituted women at the Greyhound bus station, and then transported them to an apartment, court documents say. Aside from Prince William County, the enterprise operated in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Newport News, Baltimore and Delaware.
In addition to sex trafficking, numerous problems associated with prostitution in the city include assaults and various health risks. For example, in 2010 a woman convicted of prostitution and failing to disclose her HIV status was sentenced to 12 months in jail. She was accused of intentionally spreading the virus and was arrested after she offered sex to two undercover detectives for $20 apiece in July 2009. The woman told police she was addicted to crack and wanted money for drugs, and estimated she had unprotected sex with about 50 people each month. She had been diagnosed as HIV-positive in 2007. Also in 2007, two men who ran a prostitution ring and produced pornography in Virginia Beach were charged with murdering a rival pornography producer in Pennsylvania. The murder was accomplished by slashing the victim’s throat, stabbing him 28 times, and burning the body.
The Virginia Beach Police Department has received numerous complaints about prostitution, and responded by conducting undercover operations – including reverse stings that target consumer-level demand. The names, ages, and addresses of arrested sex buyers have been publicly released. For example, in November 2012, the Virginia Beach Police Department’s Special Investigation Vice Squad conducted a reversal in response to complaints of illegal prostitution. The operation involved undercover female detectives place in the area of the 900 block of Virginia Beach Boulevard. Four men were arrested and charged with Solicitation of Prostitution; a Class 2 Misdemeanor, and were released on a summons (i.e., an order to appear in court at a later date).
- Virginia Beach Police Department
Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- “4 Charged in Reverse Prostitution Sting in Va. Beach,” ABC/WVEC-TV 13, November 20 2012.
- “Four Arrested in Virginia Beach Prostitution Bust,” CBS/WTKR-TV 3, November 20 2012.
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Lead Role in Virginia Prostitution Enterprise,” Washington Post, April 1 2013.
- “Three Indicted for Trying to Sell Women as Sex Slaves on Craigslist,” CBS/WTKR-TV 3, August 23 2013.
- “Virginia Beach Man Indicted for Prostituting a 15-Year-Old,” ABC/WVEC-TV 13, April 23 2015.
- “Guilty Plea in Va. Beach Child Prostitution,” ABC/WVEC-TV 13, May 8 2015.
- “Five Accused Virginia Beach Pimps among Those Arrested in Major Nationwide Sex Trafficking Bust,” CBS/WTKR-TV 3, October 13 2015.
- “North Carolina Man Sentenced for Transporting Women for Prostitution,” ABC/WVEC-TV 13, October 30 2015.
- “Charges in Sex Trafficking Case Have Been Moved to Federal Court,” NBC/WAVY-TV 10, December 3 2015.
- https://www.pilotonline.com/news/crime/article_4ed4dc43-708c-55c4-8a8f-77a32028d429.html (2017)
- https://www.13newsnow.com/article/news/woman-arrested-for-kidnapping-prostitution-in-virginia-beach-speaks-out (2019)
- https://www.13newsnow.com/article/news/crime/man-from-canada-pleads-guilty-to-federal-child-pornography-charges-in-virginia (202o)
- https://www.nj.com/nj-man-sentenced-for-bringing-2-women-to-virginia-forcing-them-into-prostitution.html (2021)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Probation in Prostitution Case,” Eugene Register-Guard, November 6 1997.
- “Escort Service, Three People Indicted in Prostitution Case,” Tuscaloosa News, March 6 1998.
- https://www.pilotonline.com/news/crime/article_106fb02a (2010)
- https://www.pilotonline.com/news/crime/article_1f2e0e2f-d7d0-57cf-b33b-54e675faab3e.html (2015)
- https://www.pilotonline.com/news/crime/article_7bf6fec0-278c-5abb-936d-bed1c8812b51.html (2019)
- https://www.wtkr.com/2019/11/04/virginia-beach-business-owner-involved-in-prostitution-ring-sentenced-to-prison/ (2019)
Violence Committed Against Prostituted Persons: