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Erie is the fourth largest city in Pennsylvania, with a population of approximately 100,000. It is an industrial city located in the northwestern part of the state, bordering Lake Erie. And documented cases of prostitution and sex trafficking in the city date back to the 1950s. For example, in November, 1952 Erie police arrest two women and two men believed to be part of a downtown prostitution ring, and a third woman was wanted by police. Authorities surveilled an unnamed restaurant believed to be the base of the ring for four weeks before a plainclothes officer paid $20 to a woman and then arrested her as she got into his car. One of the men arrested was a bartender at the restaurant. Cases of sex trafficking minors in Erie date back to the early 1990s. Other prostitution-related crimes in the city include the assault and rape of prostituted women.
The Erie Police Department has been using reverse stings as a demand reduction tactic, beginning in the 1970s. In an associated press report from 1977, the Chief of Police explained a new focus on prostitution “customers” – “We’ve been picking the girls up, but all they do is leave town and others take their place. We’re trying to dry up their source of income.” Reverse stings have continued since then. Prostitution is still active on the streets as well as occurring is storefront brothels, such as massage parlors. Erie has had very involved Neighborhood Watch programs that aid police in pinpointing areas of heavy prostitution. In Pennsylvania, a single count of a prostitution charge is a misdemeanor, and multiple counts elevate the offense to the felony range.
- Erie Police Department
- “Prostitution Arrests Made”, Washington Observer-Reporter, March 19 1977.
- “Prostitute Customers Targeted”, Youngstown Vindicator, November 28 1992.
- “Seven Men Arrested in Police Sting”, Erie Times-News, June 16 1995.
- “Prostitution to Feel Sting Several Times This Summer”, Erie Times-News, June 28 2001.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Arrests”, Erie Times-News, June 29 2006.
- “Fighting Prostitution in Erie’s East Side”, WFXP-TV.
- “Police Arrest 12 in Prostitution Sweep”, Erie Times-News, June 26 2001.
- “Trump Card”, Erie Times-News, April 18 2004.
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Akron Man Charged in Prostitution”, Akron Beacon Journal, February 10 1988.
- “Police: More Teens Involved in Sex Ring”, Erie Times-News, February 29 1996.
- “Police Arrest Prostitution Ring Members”, Beaver County Times, February 29 1996.
- “Two Suspects in Male Prostitution Ring to Stand Trial”, Erie Times-News, April 3 1996.
- “Man Sentenced to Prison for His Role in Male Prostitution Ring”, Erie Times-News, October 23 1996.
- “Erie Jury Finds Area Man Guilty of Sex Crimes Involving a Minor”, Erie Times-News, April 16 1997.
- “Man Involved in Sex Ring Will Spend 17 to 42 Years in Prison”, Erie Times-News, May 20 1997.
- “Erie Man Sentenced to Prison for Morals Offense”, Erie Times-News, September 14 2000.
- “Pair Charged in New Millcreek Prostitution Case Involving Teen,” Erie Times-News, November 14 2015.
- https://www.erienewsnow.com/protecting-your-kids-against-sex-trafficking (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- http://www.goerie.com/this-day-in-erie-history-nov-15-1952 (1952)
- “Police Probe Rape, Beating of Prostitute”, Erie Times-News, November 15 1995.
- “Man Will Stand Trial on Charges He Raped Prostitutes”, Erie Times-News, February 7 1996.
- “Man Convicted of Raping Prostitutes”, Reading Eagle, May 23 1996.
- “Police Arrest 7 Women on Prostitution Charges”, Erie Times-News, May 29 1997.
- “Police Arrest Nine in Nightclub Raid”, Youngstown Vindicator, July 21 1997.
- “Nine Women Arrested in Erie on Prostitution Charges”, Erie Times-News, October 31 1997.
- “Nine Arrested on Prostitution Charges”, Erie Times-News, September 9 1998.
- “Police Arrest 3 in Prostitution Sting”, Erie Times-News, August 15 2003.
- “Police Arrest 10 in Neighborhood Sweep”, Erie Times-News, April 16 2004.
- “Police Nab 7 in Neighborhood Sting”, Erie Times-News, May 5 2004.
- “Police Find Action on the Streets’, Erie Times-News, February 10 2005.
- “Letters: Intervention, Not Arrest, Works”, Erie Times-News, February 19 2005.
- “Prostitution Sting Results in 8 Arrests”, Erie Times-News, March 24 2005.
- “Crackdown on Drugs, Prostitution Continues”, Erie Times-News, September 8 2005.
- “4 Arrested for Prostitution”, Erie Times-News, May 25 2007.
- https://riverreporter.com/opinion-editorial/prostitution-bust-offers-opportunity-new-solutions (2018)