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Waynesville is a city in North Carolina of approximately 10,000 residents located between the Great Smokey and Blue Ridge mountains, about 20 miles west of Asheville. It is the county seat and largest city in Haywood County, and it is the largest city in North Carolina west of Asheville. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city.
Police have been conducting reverse stings since 1997 and began conducting web-based reverse stings in 2005. In one web-based reversal, Waynesville police used a house in Hazelwood as a meeting place for arrests. Men responding to a decoy Craigslist ad drove from as far as Tennessee. An undercover female officer met the men at the door, while a surveillance team waited in a back room. The operation resulted in the arrests of seven men, including one Episcopal priest. One of the men had arranged to have sex with a 12 to 14 year old girl.
In December 2015, a Waynesville mother was arrested on allegations of soliciting prostitution and running her business from her home, where her young kids lived. An undercover operation started by Waynesville police led to her arrest that included the county’s drug task force.
In May 2019, numerous women came forward to report to police their concerns that a specific man was following them, making lewd and inappropriate comments toward them, and on several occasions offering them money for sex. Additionally, several complaints were received from business owners and other concerned citizens about incidents they had witnessed. The suspect was arrested in June 2019 after offering to pay an undercover officer for sex. He was later placed on supervised probation after pleading guilty in Haywood County court to two counts of stalking and one count of soliciting prostitution. Along with being placed on supervised probation, he was ordered to have no contact with any victims. While not a typical SOAP order, the offender was ordered to stay away from certain areas, defined by the location of the victim rather than by a specific area of the city.
In response to a survey conducted in 2021 by the NCOSE team for a National Institute of Justice grant to update and expand Demand Forum (Grant #2020-75-CX-0011), representatives from the Waynesville Police Department reported that public education specifically addressing demand for commercial sex has also occurred.
- Waynesville Police Department
- Haywood County Sheriff’s Department
- Haywood County Drug Task Force
- Haywood County Court
2021 National Assessment II Survey
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure, Stay-Away Orders:
- Restroom sex sting nets 7 including an Episcopal Priest Operation charges six others in Web scheme (2007)
- “Two Local Men Charged with Prostitution,” Crossroads Chronicle, September 19 2007.
- “Waynesville PD Net 6 Arrests in Internet Sex Sting,” Smoky Mountain News, September 19 2007.
- https://www.smokymountainnews.com/news/item/27116-waynesville-man-arrested-for-solicitation-stalking (2019)
- https://www.themountaineer.com/news/man-pleads-guilty-to-stalking-soliciting-prostitution/ (2019)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Mother Arrested for Running Prostitution Business from Home,” Waynesville Mountaineer, December 30 2015.
- https://wlos.com/news/local/waynesville-mother-arrested-for-alleged-prostitution-operation (2015)