King County goes after ‘Johns’ in new effort to curb prostitution
King County is taking a new approach to combating prostitution, going after the men who pay for sex instead of the prostitutes.
“People that say prostitution is a victimless crime, they don’t know what they’re talking about,” says King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.
Satterberg announced Wednesday that county and local law enforcement were launching a new program called “Buyer Beware,” joining a national campaign aimed at fighting the demand side of prostitution.
The multi-pronged approach includes providing treatment and services for women working in prostitution. Satterberg says the new approach places a much greater emphasis on educating the public, including men who patronize prostitutes in, what he says is, a life of violence that can all-too-frequently end in murder.
“I think a lot of people don’t want to know about that, they’re in denial, and they don’t want to know that there’s so many men doing this,” Satterberg says. “It’s got to stop because when the demand goes up so does the victimization.”
The new program heavily emphasizes going after those who seek sex on the Internet. Satterberg says a recent study by Arizona State University found as many as 27,000 men going online every day in King County to solicit sex.
The program utilizes pop-up ads on the Internet to educate men seeking sex of the harm they are causing, and warning them of potential arrest, when they type in certain key words related to prostitution.
Law enforcement has been and will continue running regular sting operations to target those seeking sex, and Satterberg says they’ll be vigorously prosecuted.
“When men are caught we want to make sure they’re convicted and they go through a very serious education program to try and change their behavior,” he says.
Officials say they believe they can reduce prostitution by 20 percent in the next two years with the campaign.