Farrell is a city of roughly 5,000 residents, located in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, within the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Mercer county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response.
To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, law enforcement agencies have conducted reverse stings. For example, in 2013, officers from the Southwest Regional Police Department in Farrell placed a decoy advertisement on an undisclosed “social media site” advertising sex in exchange for cocaine. At least one sex buyer responded to the listing, and arranged to meet a female undercover officer in nearby Belle Vernon, where he was arrested after offering the officer $100 in exchange for sex. During processing, it was discovered that the man was listed in a national registry for convicted sex offenders. Soon after, the SRPD released the individual’s name and arrest photo to the public.
In 2018, a man who had been a Farrell police officer was arrested and charged with patronizing a prostitute. The former Farrell patrolman and Stoneboro police chief pleaded no contest to charges of obstructing administration of the law, official oppression and patronizing prostitutes while serving as a part-time Farrell patrolman. He was fired for conduct unbecoming a Farrell police officer, and the initial internal investigation was handed over to the Pennsylvania State Police Organized Crime Task Force, which investigated the incident and filed charges. According to the state police report, while in full uniform and driving a marked Farrell cruiser, the defendant men a woman behind a closed professional office during an overnight patrol shift and had sex, and afterward told her he had a year to arrest her for prostitution, and she better respond to his calls and text messages. The defendant later claimed in that he was attempting to recruit a confidential informant. His report included false information about the location, time and details of the meeting. The woman told police that the officer paid her $80 for sex, and police obtained text messages corroborating her claim. The officer was sentenced on charges of obstructing administration of law, official oppression and patronizing prostitutes to four months house arrest followed by two years probation.
- Southwest Regional Police Department
- Mercer County Court of Common Pleas
Arrest and Shaming of Sex Buyers:
- Police: Registered Sex Offender Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, NBC/WPXI-TV 11, June 18 2013.
- “Southwest Regional Police Vice Squad Sets Up Prostitution Sting”, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 19 2013.
- https://www.pennlive.com/news/2017/01/pa_crime_photos_of_the_week_41.html (2017)
- https://www.sharonherald.com/news/fired-cop-accused-of-patronizing-prostitute (2017)
- https://www.wkbn.com/local-news/former-farrell-police-officer-facing-criminal-charges (2017)
- https://www.sharonherald.com/news/ex-cop-gets-house-arrest-probation-for-theft–prostitution (2018)
Background on Local Prostitution: