Jackson Township police, working with other departments, arrested seven women on soliciting charges last week. They also charged Newcomerstown man for soliciting sex with a police officer posing as a 13-year-old girl.
JACKSON TWP. Undercover police officers started answering advertisements on a web page last week and wound up arresting seven women on prostitution charges.
They also arrested Timothy M. Birch, 24, of Newcomerstown, for soliciting sex from a police officer posing as a 13-year-old girl. He faces felony charges of attempting to commit unlawful sexual contact with a minor and importuning.
Jackson Township police led both investigations, with assistance from Canton, North Canton and Wooster police officers, as well as the the FBI's Canton office and the Massillon city prosecutor.
Chief Mark H. Brink said the investigation focused on finding individuals who might be victims of human trafficking and help them escape that situation.
"If they are caught in human trafficking and they want help, we'll get them help," Brink said.
The women arrested on prostitution charges were questioned by officers and police still are investigating to see if they possibly are involved in human trafficking. At least one case could have a human trafficking connection, Brink said.
All seven women — four from Stark County and three from Summit County — have been charged with soliciting and possessing criminal tools because they used cellphones to contact potential clients. Both charges are misdemeanors. The Canton Repository does not usually name those charged with misdemeanors.
According to Massillon Municipal Court records, the women posted on a website called SkipTheGames.com and offered sex for money. Police officers contacted the women through the website and arranged to meet them at a hotel in the township. The women were arrested when they arrived.
The investigation of Birch, who also was arrested at the hotel, was a separate case.
Brink said Birch responded to a chat with a Canton police officer who said he was a 13-year-old girl. Birch discussed having sexual intercourse with the girl, then agreed to meet her at the hotel.
A 13-year-old isn't capable of consenting to sexual relations, and any sex someone would have with a person that age would be rape, Brink said. "It's very satisfying for us to take a predator like this off the street," he said.
Birch's case remains under investigation, Brink said. A preliminary hearing for Birch is set for Thursday in Massillon Municipal Court.
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