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Altoona is a city in Blair County, Pennsylvania, located in the central part of the state along the interstate 99 corridor. It is the principal city of the “Altoona Metropolitan Statistical Area” and has a population of approximately 44,000. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well documented problems occurring in Altoona, and brign with them a wide range of crimes, including assault, drug offenses, and child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often refferred to in state criminal codes as “child pornography”). For example, in July, 2018 Blair County prosecutors filed a wide range of charges against the alleged mastermind of a local child prostitution ring (i.e., child sex trafficking), which included sexual exploitation of children (a second degree felony); unlawful contact or communication with a minor (a first degree felony); corruption of minors (a third degree felony); manufacturing, delivering, or possessing with the intent to manufacture or deliver (a felony); trafficking in minors (a first degree felony); designing or copying obscene material (a Class 1 misdemeanor); criminal solicitation ( a first degree felony); knowingly or permitting a child to be photographed, filmed, or depicted on a computer engaged in a sex act (a first degree felony); knowingly or permitting a child to be photographed, filmed, or depicted on a computer engaged in a sex act (a first degree felony); and child pornography (a second degree felony).
In a separate case in December, 2020, a Blair County Judge sentenced a man to 12-25 years in jail for multiple counts of “child pornography,” indecent assault, and child sex trafficking offenses. The sentence is to be followed by a five years’ probation. A police investigation conducted by the Altoona police department revealed that in 2017, the man and his girlfriend lured teenage girls into an apartment where they would photograph and videotape victims performing sex acts. There were reportedly six victims between the ages of 17 through 19. In The man defendant pleaded guilty to his charges of child pornography, indecent assault, and child sex trafficking offenses to avoid a jury trial.
Local police have arrested and publicly released the identities of sex buyers in Altoona. For example, it September, 2014, an Altoona man rendered guilty pleas to promoting or encouraging prostitution involving a sixteen year old and her 12-year-old sister. The man rendered guilty pleas to charges of “child pornography” possession in exchange for a sentence for an incarceration period of three to six years, to be followed by five years’ probation and register as a sex offender. Police investigations had found messages between the man and the 16-year-old girl indicating that he would pay her $100 for sex and that he offered a diamond bracelet if she would bring the 12-year-old. Police said the teenager refused. The offender was found with a cache of suspected child pornography on his computer. State investigators traced the transmission of computerized child pornography images and videos to an Altoona residence where the man was living at the time with a girlfriend and two children.
- Altoona Police Department
Arrest of Sex Buyer; Identity Disclosure:
Local Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, Related CSAM:
- https://old.post-gazette.com/regionstate/ (2001)
- https://wjactv.com/altoona-woman-arrested-in-child-porn-and-prostitution-ring-investigation (2018)
- http://www.altoonamirror.com/child-porn-case-suspect-expected-to-plead-guilty/. (2019)
- https://www.leadertelegram.com/court-filing-sheds-light-on-federal-charges-against-former-altoona-superintendent (2021)
- https://cseinstitute.org/altoona-man-given-lengthy-sentence-for-child-sex-trafficking-and-related-crimes/ (2021)
- https://www.wtaj.com/news/local-news/woman-facing-prostitution-charges-after-arrest-at-altoona-motel/ (2023)
Local Prostitution Ordinance:
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