Police battle sex trafficking in north central Wisconsin Submitted: 03/23/2018
WISCONSIN - Sarah D'Acquisto often visits sites like "backpage" and "skipthegames." D'Acquisto is a Wausau police officer working in the Community Resource Unit. Her team focusses on drug and human trafficking, prostitution, and she often works undercover. 
"There's never been a night that we haven't arrested somebody whether it's a 'John' or a person seeking the sex act or a female that's coming in to provide that for one of our undercovers," said D'Acquisto, who's starting her third year with the unit. 

D'Acquisto says human and sex trafficking in the Wausau-area typically starts online with ads. She wouldn't say how often her unit sets up undercover stings, but says they happen often. Their unit usually assists other departments with child sex trafficking cases, but does not post child ads. 

"Putting out those ads versus putting out an adult ad, it's just a complete different monster and we need special training in order to do the child ads or the ones that are focusing on the child ads," said D'Acquisto. 

This week, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office used two trained detectives in an online child trafficking investigation. 

"We want to let people know that if you engage in this, we are actively looking for you. We are actively investigating these," said Lt. Ken Schneider. 

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office first investigation led to the arrest of 67-year-old Leo Pelot after he responded to an ad posted by the sheriff's office. 

"The suspect repeatedly acknowledged that the victim was 15 years old and expressed his desire to sexually assault her," said Schneider in a press conference Friday morning. 

D'Acquisto says having the proper training in any sex trafficking case is crucial to seeing it through.
She says one of the most important things officers need to remember is they can't entice a person to commit a crime.

"I need them to agree on a sex act. I need them to agree on a price and we need to meet. That's it. I need those three things and that's really it we don't even have to exchange that cash," said D'Acquisto. 

Newswatch 12 asked D'Acquisto if her department ever worries about entrapment, which is tricking someone into committing a crime, when they work these trafficking cases. She said they've never had issues with that specifically, but there have been times they've sent reports to the district attorney and the DA has decided there wasn't enough to move forward with the charges. 

Story By: Allie Herrera

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