CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper City Council passed changes to the city’s prostitution laws on third reading Tuesday which aim to give law enforcement more ability to act in cases of prostitution involving human trafficking.
Before passing the new prostitution ordinance, Council member Kyle Gamroth made a motion to amend the proposed definition of “performance prostitution.”
That amendment, which was adopted by the council, stipulates that prohibited acts of prostitution covered under the ordinance must take place in a physical space where both the person performing the prohibited act and the person paying for the act are located.
The City Attorney’s Office drafted the language of the amendment in response to concerns Gamroth expressed during second reading that the proposed ordinance could outlaw the use of online services such as “OnlyFans,” an app which, among other things, allows users to upload pornographic images or videos of themselves for other users of the app to pay for.
Gamroth said during second reading of the ordinance two weeks ago that some people rely on the OnlyFans app to generate some money for themselves on the side.
“I would just want to make sure we are not criminalizing something like that,” he said. “If this definition is broad enough to include that, I would have concerns about it.”
The new prostitution ordinance defines “performance prostitution” as “any touching, manipulation or fondling of the sex organs and/or areola by one person upon themselves or by one person upon the person of another, whether by touch of the physical use of other items, for the purpose of sexually arousing or sexually gratifying the person who paid for and/or financed the sexual arousal or sexual gratification.”
With the amendment passed on Tuesday, performance prostitution is only prohibited if it is performed by someone “in the same building, structure, vehicle or area as the person(s) [being] touched or touching.”
City Attorney John Henley said in a memo explaining the purpose of Casper’s new prostitution ordinance that there tend to be two common types of victims exploited for prostitution in human trafficking cases.
He said that some cases involve individuals who have come to the United States from other countries, having been promised employment and a path to citizenship. In such cases, the victims are “frequently vulnerable females” who find themselves trapped in situations where they are “used as a commodity in the sex trade.”
Henley said the other common victim of human trafficking are younger people “who have run away and are living under desperate conditions on the street.” Youth may then be “‘recruited’ with the promise [of] safety and employment,” Henley said.
However, as in the case of individuals who are trafficked who came to the U.S. from other countries, such victims also find themselves trapped in situations where they are used as commodities in the sex trade.
The new ordinance adds language which aims to give law enforcement an ability to deal with not only people engaged in acts of prostitution, but also people who financially benefit from prostitution “by any means whatsover.”
The ordinance attempts to strengthen language which make building or business owners criminally responsible for prostitution that occurs at their businesses.
County 17 has taken a look at the way human trafficking tends to operate in Wyoming in a series of articles by Jennifer Kocher. Kocher looks at both the system in which human trafficking can operate in the state as well as the process by which victims are psychologically manipulated in the following articles: