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prostitution

Sunflower Asian Spa was shut down by the city in April. The City Attorney's Office claims the massage business was a front for human trafficking.
Adora Namigadde / WOSU

“NO SEX SERVICE!!!!!” screams a sign outside the now-shuttered Sunflower Asian Spa. Yet that's exactly the reason why the city of Columbus shut down the spa in early April.

Sex work is illegal in much of the United States, but the debate over whether it should be decriminalized is heating up.

Former California Attorney General and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris recently came out in favor of decriminalizing it, as long as it's between two consenting adults.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

A Florida police chief has announced that Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, will face charges of soliciting prostitution after he was caught on surveillance video allegedly in the midst of a sexual act.

Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr announced the charges on Friday as part of a sting on a local spa suspected of human trafficking and potential money laundering.

Columbus Ohio Police Ford Interceptor Utility / Wikimedia Commons

A Columbus Police officer who was relieved of duty after offering to pay a woman for sex is back at work.

The city of Dayton recently announced a new program designed to reduce demand for prostitution with 21st century tools. The initiative uses digital technology and social media to target people convicted of trying to buy sex. The new campaign is called the Buyer's Remorse initiative.

Officials say it modernizes the city’s longstanding practice of publishing the names and home addresses of people convicted of trying to hire prostitutes.

Under the new program, the city will now publish that information online on a newly created website: buyersremorsecampaign.com.

Brenda Troy stands in front of New Salem church on Cleveland Avenue. New Salem’s Anti-Human Trafficking Ministry worked with the Vice Unit on an initiative called the "Linden Model."
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Cleveland Avenue stretches from downtown Columbus northward. It’s the main road through Linden, a high crime, low-income neighborhood. The sun sets as Brenda Troy and Donna Hitcho from New Salem Church walk down the street, looking for sex workers.

KRForbesPhotography/SURJ Columbus

SURJ Columbus is helping host a rally and vigil Thursday night for a woman fatally shot by a Columbus Police officer last week.

Jenn Glaser lay in bed with a severe pain in her right hip. In the last few days a large abscess had developed under her skin--an infection from injecting drugs. 

A federal grand jury in Arizona has indicted seven people behind the classified-ads website Backpage.com on 93 counts, including charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering.

The defendants include founders Michael Lacey, 69, and James Larkin, 68, as well as other shareholders and employees. The indictment accuses the executives of presenting Backpage as a site to advertise escort services while knowing that "the overwhelming majority of the website's ads involve prostitution." The indictment says the site made over $500 million in "prostitution-related revenue."

On a Saturday afternoon at the downtown Columbus, Ohio courthouse, close to 20 men sat in a conference room; arms crossed, eyes staring blankly ahead, listening to a lecture. One white-haired man with glasses and hearing aids yelled for the presenter to speak up.


Adora Namigadde

April Zobel owns In the Bag Massage in Westerville, a small medical massage therapy clinic in a nondescript office park. A few chairs and a flat-screen television greet visitors who enter the lobby.

In leggings and a long black hoodie, Ray walked idly up and down Sullivant Avenue in Columbus, Ohio. A block away, an elementary school had let out for the day and students walked home. For Ray, work had just started.

Seth Herald / Side Effects Public Media

Though the shops along Sullivant Ave. have all closed their doors for the night, a young woman walks alone down the alley behind the Seventh Day Adventist Church. She’s petite and wears lipstick, a tweed coat and blue jeans torn at the knee.

Over-the-Rhine residents are putting drug dealers and prostitutes on notice as they partner with police in a renewed effort to clean-up the area.

Karen Kasler

The number of reports of human trafficking in Ohio went up in the last year. Now, Democratic Rep. Teresa Fedor of Toledo proposed extending the state's "safe harbor" law to 16- and 17-year-olds.

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