Rumors of increased sex trafficking during the Super Bowl swarm the field well before the players on game day. According to popular belief, the Super Bowl is notorious for being a target spot for sex trafficking and prostitution. In a key press release in 2013, Texas Attorney General, Gregg Abbott, said, “The Super Bowl is the single largest human trafficking event in the U.S.” This is seen by some people as the catalyst for the media’s attention on Super Bowl sex trafficking.
ASU study questions the link between the Super Bowl and Sex Trafficking
Contrary to popular belief, a recent study entitled Exploring Sex Trafficking and Prostitution Demand during the Super Bowl 2014, conducted by Arizona State University and Staff, indicates there is no empirical evidence that supports the claim that the Super Bowl directly affects sex trafficking.
Cindy McCain, co-chair of Arizona Governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking and long-time fighter of sex trafficking, financed the study done by Arizona State University in preparation for Arizona hosting the Super Bowl. In this study, it was discovered that sex trafficking, like virtually all illegal acts, increases in proportion with population density. If there are more people in a given area, all crime will increase. Students and faculty members involved in this study tried to develop a baseline for sex trafficking trends for Super Bowl 2015. Together, they reviewed thousands of internet-based commercial sex advertisements in both the Northern New Jersey area, where the 2014 Super Bowl was held, and in Arizona, where the 2015 Super Bowl will be held.
As noted by lead professor in this study, Dominique Roe-Sepowitz Ph.D:
The authors found no evidence indicating the 2014 Super Bowl was a causal factor of sex trafficking in the Northern New Jersey area in the days preceding the game. What is just as certain is that in anticipation of the suspected impact of the Super Bowl on sex trafficking, the coalition of law enforcement responsible for public safety mounted significant investigations into sex trafficking before and during the Super Bowl resulting in the recovery of numerous victims and the arrests of numerous suspects.
As new research comes to fruition, many suspect an increase in sex trafficking arrests simply due to an increase in law enforcement awareness and focus.
Most Prostitution Ads do not involve Sex Trafficking
Because of the influx of people going to watch the game in Phoenix this Sunday, there will be more emphasis from law enforcement on cracking down on sellers of sex. Many perceived minor actors looking to have a good time (i.e. not sex traffickers) caught soliciting and/or selling sex may face serious criminal charges due to this weekend. Task forces, sting operations, and tightened surveillance for suspicious activity will be in full force. Unfortunately, when law enforcement puts out their net to catch the big fish, smaller ones get caught as well. In Exploring Sex Trafficking, researchers found the majority of sex ads were for the sale of sex. Only 35% had indicators of adult sex trafficking. 78% of all ads posted were offering prostitution, in which females or males that are caught may face criminal charges.
In Arizona, pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-3214, it is unlawful for a person to knowingly engage in prostitution. A person who violates this section faces a class one misdemeanor punishable by up to six months of jail and a fine of up to $2,500 and up to three years of probation. For repeat offenders, the punishment is much steeper and could even include prison time in the Department of Corrections.
Online Sex Stings focus on Child Prostitution
It is important to also note that law enforcement agents involved in sex-sting operations sometimes pose as minors online. These stings occur on sites like Backpage.com which we have written about before here. Those considering an act of solicitation, might believe they are soliciting an adult prostitute when they are actually making plans to meet up with an officer posing as a minor. In these situations, the person caught trying to pay for sex from an undercover officer posing as a minor may be charged with a felony sex crime face jail and/or prison time and be treated as sex offenders. Unsuspected collateral consequences can follow for those facing these types of charges. One serious collateral consequence is that someone charged with solicitation or prostitution may be precluded from obtaining or renewing a fingerprint clearance card. Solicitation of prostitution and prostitution are delineated in the statute as a “precludable offense.”
Police Task Forces on high-alert during Super Bowl
Whether the rumor that the Super Bowl yields an increase in sex trafficking is true or false, it’s best to just keep your eye on the football game. Law enforcement agencies will use these rumors to increase the enforcement of sex trafficking and prostitution laws this weekend, and, in addition, there will also be an increase in DUI enforcement, enforcement of theft and various other laws due to people travelling from out of town to watch the game. Task force operations have been and will continue to be in full force during the days surrounding the Super Bowl. This law enforcement tradition is as strong as the Super Bowl itself.
If you or someone you know find themselves facing criminal charges, find an experienced attorney to handle your case. Castillo Law is available 24/7 to take your call at 480-206-5204 or fill out our form on our contact page here. Stay safe on game day! Don’t get flagged for illegal touching this Super Bowl weekend!