Cleveland is a city of approximately 400,000 residents, located in northeastern Ohio’s Cuyahoga County. The city has experienced a wide range of negative events associated with the local commercial sex market, including HIV-positive prostituted women continuing to sell sex, assaults of both prostituted persons and their clients, human trafficking of adults and children, and homicides that specifically targeted those engaged in prostitution.
The Cleveland Police Department has been conducting street-level reverse stings since 1976, and more recently, has added web-based reversals to its array of efforts to combat demand. As street stings typically utilize undercover female officers, operations have at times involved “dual-sweeps,” where officers initially saturate a targeted area and arrest all prostituted women in the vicinity, then replace them with female police decoys along the same streets. At times, the CPD has reported that city “sweeps” of prostituted persons have uncovered victims of domestic minor sex trafficking.
For their part, Cleveland residents have also taken an active role in demand reduction efforts. In recent years, residents of the Ohio City neighborhood have camped out in lawn chairs along busy intersections and established informal patrols on Friday evenings, holding signs that read “Dear Johns, Your plate number is being recorded. Yours truly, The Neighbors.”
In 2008, a handful of community of members laid the foundation for what would become the city’s first john school. The “No New Tricks” John School is the brainchild of Brian Kazy, project coordinator for the Detroit Shoreway Weed and Seed Initiative, and Robin Palmer, a social worker and head of the trauma-assistance and counseling group known as the Mokita Center. Limited to first time offenders, the diversion program is a day-long course that stresses personal accountability and public education. It has been held as often as once per month, and through April 2012 boasted a recidivism rate of less than 1%. Though initially limited to johns arrested in the Detroit Shoreway area, the “No New Tricks” John School expanded citywide with the assistance of the CPD and Cleveland Municipal Court in May 2012. The school is financed by the johns themselves, who must pay a fee to enroll.
- John School:
- Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “Police Dress up as Prostitutes to Catch Johns; Safety Forces’ Effort Aims to Clean up City”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 18 2006.
- “Cleveland Police Conduct Undercover Prostitution Sting”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 24 2008.
- “Cleveland Teacher Busted for Prostitution Pleads Not Guilty”, CBS/WOIO-TV 19, May 14 2008.
- “Cleveland Police Bust ‘Johns’ in Prostitution Sting”, NBC/WKYC-TV 3, October 3 2014.
- “Cleveland Police Round up Hookers, Johns”, WTAM-AM 1100, October 3 2014.
- “Cleveland Police Target Prostitutes and Their Customers in West Side Sting”, ABC/WEWS-TV 5, October 3 2014.
- Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “Cable TV to Broadcast Names of Guilty Johns”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 1 1993.
- Auto Seizure:
- “Council Panel Broadens Plan to Seize Cars Used in Crimes”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 20 2000.
- “Po Pimps: Prostitution Bust Yields Big Time Arrests”, CBS/WOIO-TV 19, November 8 2010.
- Neighborhood Action:
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Four Charged in Prostitution”, Lakeland Ledger, August 22 1974.
- “Prostitute, 12, Flees to Streets to Dull His Pain”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 19 1993.
- “Man Suspected of Using Minors in Sex Ring”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 29 2001.
- “Couple Accused of Running Prostitution Ring”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 12 2002.
- “Law & Order; Cleveland; Prostitution Ring Alleged”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 13 2002.
- “Law & Order; Cleveland; Men Face Additional Charges”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 30 2002.
- “Girl Flees Captors; Sex Ring Busted Teen Was Abducted outside Tower City”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 15 2003.
- “From a Cleveland Street Corner to a Pimp’s House in Detroit; Abducted Girl’s Escape from Sex Ring Brought down ‘Mr. Daddy'”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 17 2003.
- “Teen Hustler’s Story Reveals Boys’ Plight; Desperate Kids Lured into Prostitution, Drugs”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 19 2006.
- “Pair Imprisoned for Running Teen-Prostitution Ring”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 9 2007.
- “The Cleveland Backpage Report: An Analysis of Human Trafficking and the Online Commercial Sex Industry in Northeast Ohio”, Report, Operation Broken Silence & The Imagine Foundation, 2011.
- “Former Catholic Charities Worker Sentenced”, CBS/WOIO-TV 19, April 4 2011.
- “Elyria Man Indicted for Child Sex Trafficking”, CBS/WOIO-TV 19, June 2 2011.
- “Exclusive: Young Girl’s Cry for Help Uncovers Prostitution Ring Which Includes Teen Sex”, CBS/WOIO-TV 19, December 13 2011.
- “Investigator: 15-Year-Old Saved from Sex Ring”, NBC/WKYC-TV 3, January 20 2012.
- “Signs of Human Trafficking Can Stay Hidden in Plain Sight”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 12 2012.
- “Cleveland Woman Sentenced to 6 Years for Kidnapping, Sexual Battery, Prostitution of a Minor”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 30 2012.
- “Cleveland Woman Sentenced for Sex Trafficking Ring Involving Children”, CBS/WOIO-TV 19, November 29 2012.
- “Cleveland Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Prostituting Runaway”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 1 2012.
- “Busted for Prostituting 17-Year-Old Girl”, CBS/WOIO-TV 19, December 31 2012.
- “16-Year-Old Girl Caught in Sex Sting”, CBS/WOIO-TV 19, January 14 2013.
- “Teenage Girls Were ‘Virtual Prisoners’ in Elyria House; Man Charged with Forcing Victims into Drugs, Prostitution”, Plain Dealer, May 10 2013.
- “Ohio Woman Accused of Forcing Teens to Pay Off Drug Debt with Prostitution Enters Guilty Plea”, Columbus Republic, September 21 2013.
- “Edison Man Allegedly Enslaved Women in High-Priced Prostitution Ring”, NJToday.com, November 12 2013.
- “Edison Man Indicted in Alleged Prostitution Ring”, Bergen Record, November 12 2013.
- “Three Men Accused of Prostitution, Sex Charges Involving Missing Berea Teen”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 17 2014.
- “Man Pleads Guilty to Using Heroin to Control Women in Prostitution Ring,” FOX/WJW-TV 8, December 8 2014.
- “3 Indicted for Alleged Sex Trafficking of Minors in Sacramento, Solano Counties,” Sacramento Bee, September 11 2015.
- “Man Interrupts Trial to Plead Guilty to Human Trafficking, Drug Trafficking,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 14 2015.
- https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/gina-dejesus-highlights-human-trafficking-in-cleveland-walk-for-freedom (2018)
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Cleveland to Get Tough on Prostitutes”, Baltimore Afro-American, March 21 1970.
- “Arrest 6 in Prostitution Ring Sweep”, Gettysburg Times, April 12 1972.
- “Prostitutes Active Despite Police Unit”, Portsmouth Times, July 16 1975.
- “Women Sue Policeman Who Jailed Them on Prostitution Charge”, Lakeland Ledger, September 2 1981.
- “Prostitutes’ Tips Lead to Call-Girl Ring”, Akron Beacon Journal, January 22 1989.
- “Browns Warn League about Prostitution Investigation”, Gainesville Sun, February 6 1989.
- “Cleveland City Councilman Eugene Miller to Propose Tougher Penalties for Prostitution”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 27 2013.
- “Proposed Tougher Penalties for Prostitution in Cleveland Likely to See Debate at City Council Safety Committee Meeting”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 3 2013.
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: