Adams County, PA
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Adams County is a county of approximately 105,000 residents in southern Pennsylvania, situated along the Pennsylvania-Maryland border. Its county seat is Gettysburg, PA. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented issues in the county and surrounding communities. This activity and its ancillary crimes has resulted in complaints to local law enforcement from residents and businesses. For example, in 2015, the Pennsylvania State Police arrested a 55-year-old woman at a Gettysburg massage parlor after she attempted to solicit undercover officers for sex on two separate occasions, according to the affidavit. She was charged with prostitution, a misdemeanor offense, and was transported to the Adams County Jail. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are child sex trafficking, child sex abuse material (CSAM), and the commercial sexual exploitation of children with special needs.
Efforts to reduce demand for prostitution and sex trafficking in the county have included conducting investigations and subsequent arrests of sex buyers and sex traffickers in the county. These investigations have been initiated through residential complaints to local law enforcement and are often conducted in collaboration with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. For example, in 2020, a 42-year-old New Oxford man was arrested by the Adams County District Attorney’s Office on 24 felony charges for allegedly possessing and soliciting child pornography and predatory behavior. The man was accused of “contacting six children from various states and either pressuring them to send him pornographic images or threatening to post images already in his possession.” According to charging documents, “his alleged victims range in age from 11 to 16, and that at least two are special-needs children. The girls live in states including Texas, Iowa, Virginia and West Virginia, and told [the offender] they were under 18 prior to him soliciting nude images of them.” According to charging documents, after receiving pornographic images from a 12-year-old, “he asked her if she had a younger sister, and if she would “show” him the younger sister. He also offered her gift cards and threatened to post photos online that she’d already sent him if she didn’t do as he wanted.”
When another victim, an 11-year-old girl, refused to send the offender more photos, the offender, “called the girl a “f—ing c—t,” told her both of her parents “will die” and told her if she sent him photos posing exactly as he instructed, he would not post online the pornographic photos she’d already sent him. He also said he hopes her father chokes to death and that her mother is a prostitute.” When the child said she wanted to kill herself, [the offender] told her if she would send him a full-body photo of herself, “we will be nice to each other,” charging documents allege.
According to Adams County District Attorney, Brian Sinnet, the offender, “engaged in the ‘predatory behavior’ of contacting at least six children from different states, and either soliciting pornographic images or threatening to post images already received from the children if they did not comply with his wishes and demands.” The offender targeted minors through the Kids Chat app, TextMe, TextNow and Instagram. Detectives executed a search warrant at his residence and arrested the offender. He was transported to the Adams County Jail on $500,000 bail. The offender’s charges include multiple counts each of sexual extortion; sexual abuse of children/causing or knowingly permitting a child to engage in sexual acts that are photographed or filmed; possession of child pornography; and unlawful contact with minors.
In the Spring of 2016, a report was released by the Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Pennsylvania at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. The report presented county-level data on arrests for purchasing sex in Pennsylvania (the state has separate statutes for sex buyers versus prostituted persons) during calendar years 2014-2015. The report’s data comes from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, and during 2014-2015 there were four arrests in Adams County that were charged under the statute for purchasing sex (18 Pa.C.S. § 5902(e)). It is important to note that there may have been larger numbers of sex buyer arrests, since some cities and counties choose to handle such cases by issuing civil citations for violating local prostitution ordinances rather than charging with violating state criminal law.
In the third annual “Report on Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Pennsylvania” (2018) by Villanova University’s Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE Institute), Adams County was one of 10 Pennsylvania counties in which the number of individuals charged with violations of the state’s sex buying statute (§ 5902(e)) outnumbered the charged with violations of § 5902(a) for individuals engaging in prostitution since the state criminal code created separate offenses for sex buyers and prostituted persons in 2014. The 10 counties were: Adams, Beaver, Bradford, Centre, Franklin, Lebanon, McKean, Mercer, Monroe, and Northampton.
Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:
- http://cseinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/CSE-Institute-Report-on-CSE-in-Pennsylvania.pdf (2016)
- https://cseinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/2018-report-final-B-2.pdf (2018)
- https://www.yorkdispatch.com/story/news/crime/2020/11/04/adams-county-da-new-oxford-man-predatory-child-pornographer (2020)
- https://local21news.com/news/local/new-oxford-man-charged-with-possession-soliciting-child-pornography (2020)
- County Police Charge New Oxford Man with Child Pornography and Predatory Behavior (2020)
Background on Local Prostitution, Sex Trafficking:
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