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Ohio attorney charged with operating 15-year-long sex-trafficking ring

Man charged with operating 15-year-long sex-trafficking ring (Courtesy: Ohio Attorney General Office)
Man charged with operating 15-year-long sex-trafficking ring (Courtesy: Ohio Attorney General Office)
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PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WKRC) - Police arrested attorney Michael Mearan on Friday for allegedly operating a sex trafficking ring which spanned 15 years.

Mearan, 74, faces 18 charges including trafficking in persons and corruption, as well as compelling and promoting prostitution. He could serve more than 70 years in prison if convicted.

Dozens of women reported that Mearan, a former city councilman, lured them into a world of prostitution as a way to support their drug habits, and that he would send them to several locations across the country.

Local 12 had an exclusive interview with Ohio Attorney General David Yost.

‘We started notifying them one by one today of the indictment," said Yost. "There were a lot of tears. I have done plenty of sex cases and testifying in front of a room full of strangers in public is just an incredibly difficult thing to do. But every one of these survivors recognized that coming forward that’s a piece of it and I’m convinced that as hard as it’s going to be, they’ve got the courage to step forward and tell their stories.”

Statement from Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman:

As the Attorney General stated, this case involves the coordination of several local and state agencies that ultimately led to the indictment against Mr. Mearan. This investigation started out with our local officers taking an interest in the lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens. They embraced their role as protectors and wanted to see this through. When we needed assistance with what became a complex investigation, the Attorney General and the other agencies were quick to assist. I thank Attorney General Yost and the men and women in law enforcement for their work on this matter. I also thank those that have stepped forward to bring this to the light of day.

As always, an indictment is simply formal allegations against the defendant who is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. As for prosecution of the case, Attorney General Yost and his staff have agreed to be appointed Special Prosecutor for this matter. I wanted to ensure that this matter was given the full time and resources that it deserves and the public can have confidence that justice will prevail.

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Editor's note: Local 12 reporter James Pilcher investigated sex trafficking in Portsmouth while he was a reporter for the Enquirer.

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