Long Island Police Arrest 104 Men As Part Of Huge ‘Backpage’ Prostitution Sting

Image via Nassau County District Attorney

Law enforcement is changing its approach toward illegal prostitution, focusing on johns and pimps instead of prostitutes. And Long Island’s Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice is helping to lead the charge.
“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.”

Through its sting project, “Operation Flush the Johns,” the Nassau County police department apprehended 104 men from April 18 to May 24—including doctors, lawyers, bankers and teachers—who allegedly answered ads for prostitutes on the adult Web site Backpage. The ads were placed by undercover police officers who later met the “johns” in hotel rooms under video surveillance. As soon as the johns, who ranged in age from 17 to 79, gave cash to cops posing as hookers, they were arrested.

“When the johns arrived, they met an officer posing as a prostitute, and once money was offered for sex, they were arrested and charged,” Rice wrote in a press release.

Prior to the campaign, Nassau County had arrested only 40 johns over the past years. Police commissioner Thomas Dale announced the arrests in order to promote the project and deter Long Island’s sex industry.

“Not only do people have a right to know who their prosecutors and police are arresting and charging with crimes, but we know that the commission of this specific crime is dramatically affected by the perceived risk of getting caught,” said Rice. “We are giving fair warning to johns that the risk is growing rapidly.”

Although the 104 suspected johns all pleaded not guilty, they each face a sentence of up to one year’s imprisonment for their crimes, should they be convicted.