Proposed bills would toughen prostitution laws

Cincinnati Enquirer | James Pilcher

New bills to be introduced in the Ohio General Assembly Monday would make it easier to prosecute “johns” and those who get money from prostitutes and even publicly shame those who buy sex.

The new legislation, initially proposed by Ohio Attorney General David Yost, would create new crimes for buying sex from a prostitute, allowing so-called “johns” to be charged with a misdemeanor. Current law only has one statute for prostitution that is used for both the buyers and sellers of sex.

In addition, the legislation would create a new public registry of anyone convicted of such a crime, much like drunk drivers and sex offenders.

And a separate bill would make it a crime to receive or possess money or assets earned through prostitution, akin to the crime of receiving stolen property, a way to go after pimps or sex traffickers who are not directly involved in an original transaction. 

“This is something we’ve needed to do for a long time,” Yost said in an interview. “The market for sex and human trafficking does not exist without buyers, and treating it like a slap on the wrist is not a useful deterrent.”

The moves come as Ohio has come under the spotlight for human trafficking. The state ranks fourth nationally in the number of reports and calls into the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

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