Harrisburg, 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

Harrisburg is the capital city of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Dauphin County, PA, with a population of about 50,000 residents. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented problems in the city and its surrounding communities for decades. The city has been a known stop on regional sex trafficking circuits since the 1980s, if not before. Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. Several arrests for child sex trafficking have occurred over the years, including a case in 2015, in which a teacher and former high school basketball head coach were apprehended attempting to solicit sex from a teenage girl.

The city is a known stop on a domestic sex trafficking circuit that runs through other central Pennsylvania cities such as Allentown, Reading, Scranton, and Wilkes-Barre, and continues into upstate New York (e.g., Schenectady County, Albany County, and Buffalo). To combat consumer-level demand for commercial sex, reverse stings have been known to occur up to 20 times per year, and identifying information about those arrested is often reported in the media (since 1978). Vehicle seizure is another tactic used when deterring sex buying. Local communities have begun standing up to prostitution by setting up surveillance cameras and neighborhood watch programs.

Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex in the city. For example, in 2021, the president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association resigned from his office after being charged with ‘patronizing a prostitute; who police accused of trying to extort him. According to charging documents, in late December 2019, the former President answered an advertisement for an ‘escort’ online and traveled to a house in Wilkes-Barre to engage in commercial sex with a prostituted woman. The sex buyer told police that “he noticed [the prostituted woman] was recording him on her phone and when he asked about it, [she] told him she also shoots pornography.” He then told police that he left the room after the woman declined to stop recording. The woman then allegedly texted the former President demanding $1,000 or she would release the video, an amount she subsequently reduced to $700. Police were watching as the prostituted woman returned to her home, and fled when investigators approached her. The woman was arrested for prostitution, theft, and sexual extortion. In addition to his arrest, the sex buyer resigned from his position as the President of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and was placed on leave from his position as an assistant solicitor in Luzerne County. His identity and image were included in reports by local media outlets.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

  • “Harrisburg,” Washington Observer-Reporter, September 17 1976.
  • “Men New Targets in Vice Campaign,” Reading Eagle, October 1 1976.
  • “Newspaper Names ‘Johns’ in Harrisburg,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 1 1978.
  • “Prostitution Sting Nabs 17 Men,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, August 16 1987.
  • “9 Charged in Prostitution Sting,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, May 28 1989.
  • “3 City Women Face Prostitution Charges,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, September 9 1991.
  • “8 Arrested on Drug Charges // Woman, 9 Men Accused of Prostitution Counts,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, June 28 1992.
  • “18 Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, November 1 1992.
  • “10 Charged with Patronizing a Prostitute,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, April 25 1993.
  • “18 Arrested in City Drug and Morals Sweeps // Teen-ager Charged with Carrying a Firearm,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, June 5 1994.
  • “Prostitution and Drug Sweeps Net 17 Arrests,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, July 10 1994.
  • “18 Men Charged in Prostitution Roundup,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, July 24 1994.
  • “Police Arrest 13 Men in Prostitution Sting,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, October 30 1994.
  • “11 Men Charged in City Prostitution Sting,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, January 22 1995.
  • “Eight Charged after Prostitution Sting,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, May 27 1995.
  • “Prostitution, Drug Stings Net 18 Arrests,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, February 25 1996.
  • “Prostitution Sting Operations Net 12 in City, at Truck Stop,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, June 2 1996.
  • “3rd. St. Sweep of Prostitution Nets 9 Arrests // Vice Officers See Need for Some ‘Housecleaning’ Despite Redevelopment,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, August 20 1996.
  • “Prostitution Sting Operations Net 12 in City, at Truck Stop,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, June 2 1996.
  • “Police, Fire & Courts; Sting Nets 13 Arrests,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, October 27 1996.
  • “Prostitution Investigation Leads to Arrest of 16 in City,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, April 13 1997.
  • “Police, Fire & Courts; Sting Staged,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, June 15 1997.
  • “Police, Fire & Courts; Prostitution Sting,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, January 18 1998.
  • “Police Roundup; 12 Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, March 28 1999.
  • “Police Charge 12 with Prostitution, Soliciting,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, April 30 2000.
  • “Police Roundup; 8 Arrested in Sting,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, March 25 2001.
  • “Police Roundup; 9 Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, July 22 2001.
  • “City Police Charge 10 in Prostitution Sting,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, October 6 2001.
  • “11 Charged in Sting Operations in City,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, May 12 2002.
  • “Prostitution Sweep Results in 22 Arrests,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, June 30 2002.
  • “Police Sting Nets 9 Arrests in City,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, May 4 2003.
  • “8 Charged in Harrisburg Prostitution Sting,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, September 28 2003.

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Employment Loss, Sex Buyer Arrest, and Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 50099
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