OMAHA, Neb. (CBPD) -- An undercover operation led to the arrests of 15 individuals -- 14 of which are facing prostitution changes.
Members of the Child Exploitation Task Force conducted the operation at an undisclosed location. Of the 15 individuals who were arrested, 14 are facing prostitution charges and one was arrested on a warrant for probation violation.
Those facing prostitution charges include:
- Zilong Fan, Bellevue
- Vincent Kanne, Carroll, Iowa
- Joseph Diaz, Omaha
- Nicole McNealey, Council Bluffs
- Imesha Davis, Omaha
- Teresa White, Dayton, Ohio
- Michael McIntosh, Bellevue
- Mary Barnes, Omaha
- Bronchae Brown, Omaha
- Gary Steadman, Blair
- Olivia Handy, Omaha
- Andrew Campbell, Bellevue
- Kiara Parker, Omaha
- Stacey Ohanlon, Omaha
The Child Exploitation Task Force consists of members from the Council Bluffs Police Department, Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Department, Mills County Sheriff's Department, Omaha Police Department, La Vista Police Department, and the FBI.
"I think it's also showing a reality to the public that this is going on," says Julie Shrader with Rejuvenating Women. "It's real, not just something you hear about or a movie you watch."
Rejuvenating Women is a group that helps women in need, often with prostitution. The organizer says prostitution is a real problem here. Prostitutes walk the streets day and night and with every bust comes hope that this will be their chance to leave the business.
Shrader says the crime is real, the consequences are real, but the chance at recovery for these women is also real, something she works hard to make happen. “They need intense trauma counseling.”
She says according to research, only one to three percent of prostitutes voluntarily stay in the business. “They usually want out, but they're too scared to make that move.”
Counseling is readily available for prostitutes, it can even be found in jail. But for men, there's often a question of what to do. “I would love for there to be a place to get help because these guys that are buying these girls are sex addicts and they need help, too.”
She worries that in most cases the johns will simply repeat what they do. In fact, one of the men arrested in Thursday's sting, Michael McIntosh, appeared in a 6 On Your Side investigation nearly two years ago. He asked a woman for directions and when she looked down she told 911 he was masturbating in the parking lot.
McIntosh, a former OPS employee, was ticketed and went to jail. Now he's back in jail again, this time as a john accused of paying for sex. "It's a sick world out there, but everybody needs help, even the guys trafficking these girls," says Shrader. "Something went wrong."
Each prostitution charge carries a combination of a fine and probation or jail time. Rejuvenating Women says the key to keeping these women from returning to the business is education. "The girls have been so desensitized to sex that it doesn't mean anything to them and to survive they sell themselves," says Shrader. "You can almost see this. Wall is so thick they don't let you in and they don't want to talk and that's fine. We don't push it. When they're ready they will."