West Bend, WI

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

West Bend is a city of about 32,000 residents that serves as the government seat of Washington County, located in southeastern Wisconsin.  Prostitution and activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the county. For example, in April, 2008, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department received an anonymous tip that a 49 year old woman who lived with her husband appeared in an online advertisement that appeared to be for prostitution. The woman was dressed in lingerie in some photos and was topless in others, according to the report. After an investigation, the woman was cited for prostitution after admitting she and her husband ran an escort service from their home, according to a Washington County Sheriff’s Department report. Sex trade activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. Some cases have also involved child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often referred to in state laws as “child pornography). For example, in August, 2017, West Bend police received community complaints about potential sex trafficking of local youth, and issued a warning after two separate incidents where teenaged girls were approached by a man behaving suspiciously. The 16-year-old girls said the suspect claimed to work for a modeling agency, and told them he was looking for girls for a music video. He also asked the minors for nude photos, which under the law constituted soliciting “child pornography.”

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. For example, in February, 2014, a male sex buyer, a prostituted woman, and a pimp were arrested in West Bend.  The sex buyer was taken to jail for “patronizing prostitutes” after he brought a Milwaukee woman back to his home and told officers that by purchasing sex from her, he was trying to help her escape her life of prostitution.

Public disclosure of identities and the loss of employment are consequence of buying sex that have occurred within the city. For example, in April, 2016, the West Bend City Administrator was arrested in an “underage prostitution” (i.e., sex trafficking) sting resigned. The City of West Bend accepted his resignation. He was on paid administrative leave and then his resignation went into effect. The sex buyer also faced 50 years in jail and up to $200,000 in fines if convicted of two class D felonies. According to the charging document, the man and a teen girl identified only as “V” began conversing via text message in the spring of 2015. The man offered between $300 and $500 to the child to sexually abuse her. The communications were uncovered by the teen’s mother, who turned over the phone to the Muskego Police Department. A detective there continued conversing with the man, posing as “V.” The man was arrested after showing up for an agreed-upon meeting with the teen at a fast food restaurant in Muskego, in Waukesha County. Detectives said they found Viagra and a note with the address of the meeting place inside his vehicle. The man was charged with one felony count of child enticement-prostitution and one felony count of soliciting a child for prostitution. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to serve 18 months in prison.

Key Partners

  • City of West Bend
  • Muskego Police Department
State Wisconsin
Type City
Population 31752
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