Providence Police announced Tuesday that they have arrested 13 more “johns” in the ongoing “Operation Backpage” online prostitution investigation, named after the online website backpage.com
Police say they picked up the new offenders after a two-day “sweep” of online sites, answering ads for men seeking to solicit sex. Undercover female police officers then met with several men at four different hotels and arrested them.
The latest arrests followed 22 arrests in a sting announced on April 3, also targeting the online website.
“Seems like Groundhog Day, we were here just recently doing the exact same thing,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza.
“We’re going to keep doing it until we address this issue completely.”
The defendants were arraigned in District Court Tuesday morning.
“Solicitation for sex is the most dehumanizing crime in our society. It victimizes our most vulnerable people and forces them into sex trafficking,” said Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré.
“The Providence Police Department will continue their vigilant efforts to rid the city of prostitution.”
The Executive Director of the Day One Sexual Assault and Trauma Center, Peg Langhammer applauded the sting.
“We see many of these women at Day One and they look to ways that they can get out of this life and move forward and rebuild their lives,” Langhammer said.
Elorza said the city is monitoring a lawsuit brought by three female victims against the Backpage website in the Federal District Court in Boston, with an eye toward bringing a ‘friend of the court’ brief.