Fayette 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

Fayette County is a county of approximately 131,000 residents in southwestern Pennsylvania, adjacent to Maryland and West Virginia. Its county seat is Uniontown, PA. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified as substantial problems in the county, and residents have complained about unwanted solicitation and other negative effects of the local commercial sex market such as violence against individuals engaging in commercial sex. Cases investigated have included one large-scale escort service prostitution operation with records of over 1,800 calls from male sex buyers. Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.

To combat consumer-level demand, reverse stings have been conducted by local law enforcement since at least 1996, if not earlier. That year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that a male sex buyer had been arrested after soliciting an undercover Pennsylvania State Trooper in Uniontown and fleeing the scene after law enforcement attempted to arrest him, nearly running over another trooper in the process. Pennsylvania State Police have conducted periodic reverse stings since that time, at times running sex buyer details in parallel with sweeps targeting prostituted women. Though some male sex buyers’ identities were reported in press, the majority of the offenders’ names were not publicized.

In addition to street-level reverse stings, more recently, web-based reverse stings have been conducted in the county. For example, in early 2012, the Fayette County Drug Task Force conducted a web-based reverse sting which resulted in the arrests of eight male sex buyers for solicitating prostitution. Each of the men was arrested after responding to online advertisements suggesting prostitution and arranging to meet an undercover female officer at a Uniontown motel. Unlike in prior city stings, the names, ages, and addresses of the arrested sex buyers were published in local news outlets.

In June 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 an undercover female officer in 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.

Not all arrests of sex buyers are the result of reverse stings, but are instead the product of investigating allegations against offenders with real victims. For example, in 2000, a large-scale escort service prostitution operation with records of over 1,800 calls from male sex buyers dismantled by Fayette County law enforcement led to the arrest of multiple sex buyers in the county. Although their names were not released until two years after the operation was dismantled, sex buyers were arrested by police as a result of this investigation. Some of the arrested sex buyers included doctors and county officials.

Employment loss is also a consequence of buying sex in the county. For example, in 2004, a Fayette County corrections officer accused of soliciting sex from a prostituted woman was suspended without pay. According to reports, the corrections officer and the prostituted woman were engaging in commercial sex in a church parking lot when they were located by three Uniontown police officers. The former officer allegedly picked up the prostituted woman on North Gallatin Avenue. The two stopped at a gas station, where the former corrections officer bought the woman a pack of cigarettes, a hot dog, a bag of chips, and a Mountain Dew. The two then went to the church parking lot, where the sex buyer allegedly offered the woman $20, but she refused it. She told police, “that the sex was a way of thanking him for the food.” County records indicated that the sex buyer was hired to work in the county jail on July 31, 2000, and was earning $13.23 per hour. As a result of his arrest, Warden Larry Medlock suspended the sex buyer without pay. The male sex buyer and the prostituted woman were charged with open lewdness and prostitution; both offenses are classified as third-degree misdemeanors. Their identities were included in reports by local media outlets.

In the Spring of 2016 a report was released by the Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Pennsylvania at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. The report presented county-level data on arrests for purchasing sex in Pennsylvania (the state has separate statutes for buying versus selling sex) during calendar years 2014-2015. The report’s data comes from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, and during 2014-2015 there were 14 arrests in Fayette County that were charged under the statute for purchasing sex (18 Pa.C.S. § 5902(e)). It is important to note that there may have been larger numbers of sex buyer arrests in that time period, since some cities and counties choose to handle such cases by issuing civil citations for violating local prostitution ordinances rather than charging with violating state criminal law.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Employment Loss, Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Pennsylvania
Type County
Population 130329
Comments are closed.