The ads were placed by undercover cops who met with the alleged “johns” in hotel rooms and videotaped them. Once the alleged johns gave cash to the undercover cops, they were arrested.
Police called the massive sting “Operation Flush the Johns.” The arrests are huge for Nassau County police, who’ve arrested just 40 johns in the past 10 years.
The men range in age from 17 to 79 and have all pleaded not guilty, The New York Daily News reported. They could go to prison for a year.
There’s a nationwide push to arrest and punish “johns” and pimps instead of prostitutes, who many law enforcement agencies are starting to see as victims.
In May, a nonprofit called Demand Abolition held a “strategic planning session” in Dallas to teach police how to focus more on targeting johns instead of prostituties. Denver police officer Sgt. Daniel Steele spoke at that session, revealing how his officers lure would-be johns with fake ads, Katie Baker reported for the Daily Beast. From her story:
Steele’s push to target the men who buy sex is at the forefront of a growing trend in American law enforcement based on the idea that the best way to reduce prostitution is to crack down on demand.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice seems to agree with Steele’s focus on pursuing johns.
“Sex workers are often vulnerable victims of traffickers and pimps, yet they too often remain the prime targets in prostitution investigations while the johns who fuel the exploitation are treated as mere witnesses,” Rice said in a statement. “My office and the police department are turning the tables on the illogical and immoral nature of that equation.”
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