Blair County, PA has a population of about 125,000, and its largest city is Altoona (pop. 44,000), and it is located in the central part of the state along the interstate 99 corridor. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well documented problems occurring in Altoona and other areas within the county. For example, in July, 2018 Blair County prosecutors filed a wide range of charges against the alleged mastermind of a local child prostitution ring, 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). Three Johnstown residents and a Windber woman were jailed after being accused of operating a drug and prostitution ring from a Blair County motel. The arrests Saturday are part of a broader roundup of alleged drug dealers and sex peddlers by local police and agents from the state attorney general’s office. Police later learned the suspects advertised sexual services on Backpage.com and charged up to $150 for a half-hour session.
In another case, a man was charged with several counts of child pornography, trafficking minors and other child sex-related crimes. Blair County authorities began investigating the man ater the discovery of a possible prostitution ring. The man and an accomplice pleaded guilty to various child sex-related charges in July. In another case, a former Altoona school superintendent was charged with sex trafficking a child, receiving and making child pornography.
Among the efforts to combat such crimes are those targeting demand. For example, the Blair County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against a man accused of arranging to meet a prostituted person in Logan Township. According to charges filed by Blair County Detective, a Logan Township police investigation led to identifying a sex buyer in Altoona who had previously agreed he would pay the woman $450 to have sex at the Cedar Grove Motel, so police set up a sting. The man allegedly agreed and in a text stated he had “crystal, molly, green, hash, cash.” Arrangements were made to meet at a convenience store on and the suspect sent a picture of his motorcycle to the woman’s phone. When he showed up at the store, he was arrested and allegedly admitted he was in Altoona to “meet a girl and that he had drugs in his inside vest,” including methamphetamine, an inhaler, a syringe and a pipe and he admitted he had agreed to pay the woman $450, but said he hadn’t done anything yet. The man faced felony and misdemeanor drug charges along with a misdemeanor count of patronizing a prostitute.
- Blair County Sheriff’s Office
- Blair County District Attorney’s Office
- Logan Township Police Department
Web Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- http://www.altoonamirror.com/news/local-news/2019/09/city-man-guilty-in-sex-charges-case/ (2019)
- https://www.altoonamirror.com/news/local-news/2020/05/coalport-man-held-in-alleged-prostitution-sting/ (2020)
- https://www.newspapers.com/clip/5047783/grace-mcmonigal-arrested-for/ (1919)
- https://old.post-gazette.com/regionstate/20010907cops0907p5.asp (2001)
- https://www.ydr.com/story/news/crime/2018/12/23/sarah-suspected-prostitute-new-cumberland-hotel-police-say/2401296002/ (2018)
- https://www.facebook.com/AltoonaPD/posts/2234638159896067/. (2018)
- http://www.altoonamirror.com/news/local-news/2019/01/child-porn-case-suspect-expected-to-plead-guilty/. (2019)
- https://www.leadertelegram.com/news/local-briefs/woman-accused-of-soliciting-prostitution-in-altoona/article_4836f94c-2eb6-50e9-bba3-f580688b65b7.html (2020)
- https://www.weau.com/2020/09/11/hearing-for-dan-peggs-former-altoona-superintendent-rescheduled-at-request-of-defense-attorney/ (2020)
- https://wjactv.com/news/local/court-docs-altoona-man-sentenced-12-25-years-for-child-sex-related-crimes (2020)
- https://www.altoonamirror.com/news/local-news/2020/01/city-pair-seeking-separate-trials/ (2020)