Waterville, ME

Tactics Used

Buyer Arrests
Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Waterville is a city of approximately 16,765 residents, located in Kennebec County, Maine, north of Augusta. Both business- and web-based prostitution has been reported in the community, and has generated complaints to police. At least one case of commercial sexual exploitation of minors has also been documented.

In their efforts to reduce prostitution activity, local law enforcement have launched at least one investigation to identify and arrest sex buyers. In September 2015, media outlets reported the completion of three reverse stings in Waterville and Augusta. The operations marked a collaborative effort between the Waterville and Augusta Police Departments and Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. During the stings, officers placed decoy advertisements suggesting prostitution to websites known for commercial sex sales, and arranged to meet the individuals who responded to the listing at hotels in the two communities. Twenty-one johns were arrested as a result of the stings; all of the men’s identities were publicized in press. In a joint press release about the investigations, a representative with the WPD commented:

“We suspected that prostitution was taking place throughout central Maine and highly suspected we would get high number of responses to Internet ads from potential ‘johns’… A lot of people kind of view this as a victimless crime. We don’t.”

In January 2016, the Bangor Daily News reported that five of the men intercepted during the September 2015 reversal had pleaded guilty to engaging a prostitute, and had been sentenced to pay $800 in fines and fees. In addition, Daily News reporters indicated that two more johns had previously pleaded guilty in November 2015; those men were similarly sentenced to $800 in fines and fees but were also forced to serve 48 hours in jail.

Key Partners

  • Waterville Police Department
  • Augusta Police Department
  • Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office
State Maine
Type City
Population 16765
Location
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