Butler County, PA

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Butler County is a county of approximately 194,000 residents in western Pennsylvania situated directly north of Pittsburg, PA. Its county seat is Butler, PA. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and its ancillary crimes has resulted in complaints to local law enforcement from residents and businesses. The area has also experienced issues with illicit massage businesses (IMBs) serving as fronts for prostitution in the area. Police have conducted investigations into the IMBs that have resulted in the arrests of prostituted women. Targeted violence against individuals engaging in commercial sex has also been documented in the county. Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking and child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

While there have been no reports of traditional reverse sting operations being conducted in Butler County, police have been known to arrest sex buyers and sex traffickers through alternative investigations or through residential reports to local law enforcement. For example, in 1988, two Butler County men were arrested by Butler County Sheriff’s deputies after a prostituted woman claimed the men kidnapped, psychically assaulted, threatened to kill the woman if she did not comply, and raped her. The men videotaped themselves raping the woman and on the tape police stated that you hear the men threatening to kill the woman if she refused to engage in sexual activity with them. The men were arrested by Butler County Sheriff’s deputies and were transported to the Butler County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bonds. During one of the man’s trials, he claimed that he offered to pay the woman $200 to engage in commercial sex while he videotaped but police stated that they only found $68 in the victim’s purse at the time of the arrest. In March 1989, a jury of 11 men and one woman found one of the offenders guilty of kidnapping, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, simple assault, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, criminal conspiracy, and firearms violations.

In 2019, a 54-year-old Cranberry Township man was arrested after he allegedly attempted to enter the room of a woman arrested on prostitution charges during an undercover operation was arrested for patronizing a prostitute – a third degree misdemeanor. According to Cranberry Detective Justin Hewitt’s affidavit, the sex buyer arranged a meeting with the woman after seeing an advertisement on a website that promotes prostitution. Police had used the same website to conduct the prostitution operation in which they were targeting prostituted persons online. According to the affidavit, the male sex buyer entered the Quality Inn in Cranberry Township on Oct. 24, 2019, and tried walking past an undercover officer and FBI agent to enter the same room where a woman was arrested earlier on prostitution charges. Upon questioning, the male sex buyer agreed to let officers look at his cell phone, where, police say, they saw text messages arranging payment in exchange for sexual intercourse. Charges against the sex buyer were filed six days later on October 30, 2019, during the arrest of the second prostituted woman.

In July 2022, a Butler Township man who purchased access to sexually abuse a child was convicted in federal court for sex trafficking. Over three-year period of time, beginning in 2017, a truck driver paid the minor victim, who was 14 years-old when the man first met her, hundreds of dollars in cash for sex on approximately 10 occasions, and produced two videos of his sexual exploitation of the child. The used social media accounts – including Snapchat and multiple Facebook accounts – to communicate with the girl. Messages between the offender and victim were presented during trial, which prosecutors stated demonstrated that the man used these accounts to maintain control over, manipulate and exploit his victim. The investigation was initiated in the Fall of 2020, when the victim walked into the Butler Township Police station and told law enforcement about the crimes committed against her by the man. The offender’s identity and image were included in reports by local media outlets.

Key Sources

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Commercial Sex:

State Pennsylvania
Type County
Population 193763
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