6th-grade teacher, college professor among 160 arrested in Ohio human trafficking bust

An elementary school teacher, a college professor and a pair of U.S. Air Force members are among 160 people charged in a statewide human trafficking crackdown in Ohio, the state’s top prosecutor said Tuesday.

In addition to the arrests, “Operation Buyer’s Remorse” identified more than 100 human trafficking survivors, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced in a news release.

The arrests began Sept. 25 and lasted through Saturday. They took place in “every corner of the state” including in and around Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Akron, Youngstown, Marietta and Portsmouth.

It was “a concerted effort to stem the demand that fuels human trafficking,” Yost said, pointing to the involvement of nearly 100 law enforcement agencies and human service organizations across the Buckeye State. The attorney general’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission led the operation.

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The arrestees

Those arrested in the operation ranged in age from 17 to as old as 84 and included an EMT, nurses, former law enforcement officers and retirees, Yost reported.

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Over the course of the week, 149 people looking to buy sex were arrested and charged with engaging in prostitution, according to the release.

Additional arrests included two people who allegedly sought to to engage in criminal sexual acts with minors and six for promoting prostitution. Others were arrested for illegally possessing drugs or firearms, or on outstanding warrants.

A teacher, a professor, an administrator and two U.S Air Force men

Among those arrested were:.

  • Nick Claybourn, 29, of Rushville, arrested by the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office and Lancaster Police Department on charges of engaging in prostitution. Claybourn was a sixth-grade teacher in the Fairfield Union Local School District in Lancaster, Ohio, until he resigned on Sunday.
  • Shawn Ryken, a staff sergeant from the U.S. Air Force; arrested by the Montgomery County Human Trafficking Task Force near Dayton, Ohio.
  • Jason Goins, a major in the U.S. Air Force; arrested by the Montgomery County Human Trafficking Task Force.
  • Michael Masterson, a former administrator at the University of Dayton; arrested by the Montgomery County Human Trafficking Task Force.
  • Ramesh Karki, a professor at Indiana University; arrested by the Montgomery County Human Trafficking Task Force.
  • It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday whether any of those arrested had obtained attorneys.

    Claybourn was hired over the summer and was in his first year as a teacher in the Fairfield Union Local School District, Superintendent Chad Belville told USA TODAY. The district placed Claybourn on administrative leave Thursday night after his arrest and he resigned his teaching position on Sunday, Belville said.

    University of Dayton officials told USA TODAY that Masterson is a former faculty member at the school and the university’s policy is not to comment on individual personnel matters or ongoing investigations.

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    Spokespeople from the Air Force and Indiana University did not immediately return USA TODAY’s requests for comment.

    See the full list of those arrested in connection to the sting here.

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    The victims

    Police interviewed 104 survivors of human trafficking as a result of the sting, some located at illicit massage parlors.

    The victims, according to the release, were provided services from health care and social service organizations.

    “The success of this operation is measured not only by the number of arrests but also by the resources offered to survivors of human trafficking and the intelligence gathered that will propel long-term investigations forward,” Yost said.

    He added: “Our message is simple: Don’t buy sex in Ohio.”.

    Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on X @nataliealund.