Prostitution in Rochester and those that support it.

Recently we had two Asian Massage parlors busted for prostitution.  One business owner worked with police to shut down the business immediately.  The other building was owned by Dennis Weestrand…

Mr. Weestrand initially worked with police and then decided that “times are tough.”  As such he decided that getting paid by his tenant was more important then ending human exploitation.  I have tried unsuccessfully, to contact Mr. Weestrand.  I will hand deliver a letter to other tenants in Mr. Weestrand’s building on 2nd Street.  I want the other tenants to insist he starts acting like a responsible citizen.

Here is a great note between city and county staff further explaining the issue:

Chief Peterson:

As I am sure you are aware, in January, 2011, the Olmsted County Attorney has upheld the position that prostitution is often the only visual element in domestic and international human sex trafficking. As such, individuals arrested for prostitution are often labeled as “offenders” and their victimization is overlooked. The County Attorney’s Office has developed and implemented a Human Trafficking Diversion Program, which is an effort to shift the paradigm from prosecution of a defendant to offering tools to assist in the victim’s escape from sex trafficking and to aid in her or her survival. Further, it has been the County Attorney’s position that it is the demand for sex that runs this supply. Therefore, this office has developed unique probationary conditions for Patrons of Prostitution in an attempt to fend against recidivism by these offenders. The probationary conditions include, among other conditions, attendance and completion of an Intervention Program for Men Who Use Prostitutes and completion of the Sexual Addiction Evaluation.

I write to you now, to share with you how invaluable the Street Crimes Unit has been in developing protocol and procedures for the Human Trafficking Diversion Program, targeting the demand for sex, and educating this office, as well as, other government departments. I will keep my email brief, as a message, regardless of the length, cannot adequately describe the outstanding work that the members of the Street Crimes Unit have done over the last six months. I am very fortunate to be the attorney who was able to work with Street Crimes hand-in-hand in targeting prostitution in Rochester and I wanted to take a moment to applaud their work.

The Street Crimes Unit has made an effort to have several members attend planning and development meetings with other government departments. At these meetings the Street Crimes members have shared their  expertise in prostitution activity and the criminal behaviors of prostitutes, patrons, and pimps. This expertise has greatly benefited the County Attorney’s Office, DFO Community Corrections, and other departments in developing protocol for addressing prostituted adults and juveniles, the diversion program, and probationary conditions. Further, their knowledge will assist this office in the courtroom – whether it be during a Contested Omnibus hearing or a Trial.

Also, as you know, the sting operations have caught the attention of the media, which has, in turn, caught the attention of a number of government departments and not for profit organizations located both here and in the Twin Cities. The attention to the Street Crimes operations and investigations has provided awareness of the prevalence of sex trafficking in Rochester. Moreover, the arrests of not just prostitutes but of also patrons and pimps has assisted in changing the paradigm in the government departments as well as in the community. In my opinion, the change in paradigm is necessary if we are to stop sex trafficking in Rochester. I have collected news articles over the last couple months outlining some of the work that Street Crimes has done; the articles are attached to this email.

Finally, the Street Crimes Unit enthusiasm to target sex trafficking, with a victim-centered approach, is the driving force behind the Human Trafficking Diversion Program and has been the momentum needed to decrease, and hopefully, one day, stop sex trafficking in Rochester.

Laura E. Isenor

Certified Student Attorney

Olmsted County Attorney’s Office

151 Fourth Street SE

Rochester, MN 55904

Isenor.Laura@co.olmsted.mn.us

 

3 comments

  1. Nice letter Michael. It’s amazing what one “sees” when there’s a wee bit of awareness.

    Heck, even my family from out of town, was wondering when they came for a short visit over the weekend and looked out on an infamous street. They didn’t want to say anything until prompted by a side conversation the next day.

    What can you do? People see things and reflexively, instinctively look away at those things that make them uncomfortable. I think it’s natural and even protective.

    Thanks for addressing the not-so-pretty side of Rochester.

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