|IT Based Tactics
Crawford County is located in the Northwestern region of Pennsylvania and is home to approximately 85,000 residents. The county seat is Meadville, PA. The area is bordered by Erie County to the North, Warren County to the East, and Ashtabula County, Ohio to the West. The county had several major highways run through its borders, including I-79. Additionally, the region is home to the Erie National Wildlife Refuge and Pymatuning State Park. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the county. Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in February 2018, a Vernon Township man was arrested in Flagstaff, AZ, following a nationwide search led by the U.S. Marshals Service. The man, a convicted sex offender, was wanted for failing to surrender to serve a 10-year prison term for child sex trafficking charges. Deputy Marshals were dispatched to multiple states and eventually developed information that the sex trafficker had traveled to Flagstaff. Investigation revealed that he was employing an alias and had disguised his appearance to avoid capture. In the fall of 2018, the sex trafficker was sentenced in federal court to 18 months of imprisonment, to run consecutive to his prior 10-year sentence, and three years of supervised release, to run concurrently to his prior term of supervised release on his conviction of Failure of to Register as a Sex Offender and Failure to Surrender for Service of Sentence.
In effort to combat instances of commercial sex, local law enforcement has conducted investigations and arrested sex buyers in the county in response to residential complaints to local law enforcement regarding suspected commercial sex activity. For example, in 2019, the Pennsylvania State Police conducted an investigation in response to residential complaint concerning suspected prostitution occurring at a local motel. PSP troopers arrested a Hartstown man and an Erie woman for allegedly engaging in a commercial sex transaction. The woman was arrested for prostitution and the male sex buyer was arrested for patronizing a prostitute. According to the criminal complaint, police alleged that the man “did hire a prostitute from an online website for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity,” and the woman “did promote prostitution via an online website and did engage in prostitution as a business for financial benefit.” According to reports, police were tipped off by an Uber driver who had driven the woman to the motel, then contacted authorities. During the ride, the woman had told the driver she was nervous as it was her “first attempt at prostitution.” The identities, ages, and addresses of both individuals arrested were released to the media.
Loss of employment is also a consequence of sex buying in Crawford County. For example, in February 2014, an elected Crawford County constable was bound over to Erie County court on three felony and 19 misdemeanor charges involving the rape of a prostituted woman. He was initially arrested by Millcreek Township police in December 2013 when the victim reported that the she and the constable arranged to meet on several occasions for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex. The offender then used his office as a law enforcement officer to extort the sexual services by threatening to arrest the woman if she did not engage in commercial sex with him. In the fall of 2014, the offender was sentenced in Erie County Court of Common Pleas to 90 days to 12 months in jail. The judge sentenced the former constable in the aggravated range, “citing his position of authority as an elected law enforcement official at the time.” The former constable was scheduled go on trial in Erie County Court of Common Pleas in July 2014 on three counts each of rape by forcible compulsion, indecent assault by forcible compulsion, impersonating a public servant, official oppression, criminal solicitation of prostitution, and patronizing prostitutes; and one count of unlawful restraint. But, on July 8, 2014, the offender entered a plea to three counts of patronizing prostitutes in a plea agreement with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office. As a result of his arrest, he was suspended from duty by Crawford County Court of Common Pleas the same day as his Dec. 27, 2013, arrest. The former constable remained under suspension from all court activities in all counties, according to John Shuttleworth III, county court administrator.
Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:
- Constable charged with rape, faking police job (2013)
- https://www.erienewsnow.com/story/26595447/former-crawford-county-official-sentenced-in-rape-case (2014)
- http://www.titusvilleherald.com/news/article (2014)
- https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/5/nw-pa-constable-to-court-in-rapes-of-prostitute/ (2014)
- Constable Chamberlain gets at least 90 days in prostitution case (2014)
Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/two-face-prostitution-charges-after-alleged-vernon-township-encounter/article (2019)
- https://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/probation-for-hartstown-man-in-prostitution-case/article (2020)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdpa/pr/wexford-man-sentenced-10-years-prison-conspiring-traffic-minor-sex (2017)
- https://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/full-story-u-s-marshals-capture-wanted-former-vernon-township-man/article (2018)
- https://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/local_news/former-vernon-township-man-pleads-guilty-over-not-reporting-to-prison/article (2018)
- https://www.yourerie.com/news/local-news/former-vernon-township-man-pleads-guilty-to-new-charges/ (2018)
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdpa/pr/sex-offender-sentenced-18-more-months-prison-fleeing-pennsylvania-avoid-serving-10-year (2018)