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updated: 3/8/2011 4:22 PM

Cook Co. ordinance has johns paying for programs helping abused women

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A Cook County law aimed at deterring men from soliciting sex has netted nearly $50,000 to support programs for abused women.

More than 100 men have been cited under Cook County's new Public Morals Ordinance, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Sunday.

In addition, Dart and Leyden Township Supervisor Bradley Stephens unveiled two anti-soliciting billboards on Mannheim Road to deter men who solicit sex in the area.

The Mannheim Road corridor, just south of O'Hare International Airport, has long been a destination site for prostitution, but has also seen an increase in gang and drug activity as well as gun trafficking, authorities said.

"This is just another example of Leyden Township and the Cook County Sheriff's Office working together toward addressing prostitution and the elements it brings to Mannheim Road and the Leyden Township community," said Stephens, whose office paid for the billboards.

The billboards - placed in both directions along the 2300 block of Mannheim Road - warn men they face fines and possibly arrest, saying: "Chances are, the woman you are about to pick up works for us. Expect to pay $2,150." and "Dear John, if you're here to solicit sex, it could cost you $2,150. We're teaming up to bust you."

Since the ordinance was instituted in August 2009, the sheriff's vice unit has cited 114 men, about 85 percent of whom were seeking sex along the Mannheim Road corridor, officials said.

As a result of those citations, the Cook County Sheriff's Office has collected $48,538 from its part of those fees - all of which has gone to programs to support abused women through the sheriff's nationally recognized Department of Women's Justice Services.

Dart also plans to expand awareness by placing ads on public transportation spaces warning men and offering help to women.