Lewisburg, 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

Lewisburg is a borough in Union County, PA, 30 miles southeast of Williamsport and 60 miles north of Harrisburg, and has a population of roughly 5,700 residents. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas. This activity and its ancillary crimes, have generated residential complaints to local law enforcement. For example, in May of 2012, the Pennsylvania State Police conducted an investigation into a local massage parlor suspected of serving as a front for prostitution and related activity. As a result of the investigation, three women were arrested by officials after having allegedly offered sex acts to undercover agents after massages. According to reports, the same massage parlor was closed down by police in 2010 for similar offenses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.

In effort to reduce instances of prostitution and sex trafficking in the city, law enforcement has deployed various demand reduction tactics. For example, in 2018, the Union County District Attorney’ Office and the Union County Sheriff’s Office conducted a joint operation focused on combating commercial sex in the area. The operation coincided with efforts made by the National “John” Suppression Initiative, PA Alliance Against Trafficking in Humans: Route 15 Project, and other community agencies. District Attorney and sheriff’s deputy, Detective Jacob Brown-Schields, posted decoy advertisements on websites known for prostitution activity. According to reports, more than 25 individuals responded to the decoy ad, seeking sexual services as well as multiple people offering sex in exchange for money. As a result of the investigation, three men were arrested are having allegedly responded to the advertisement and used text messaging to arrange to meet who they believed to be a prostituted woman at a Lewisburg motel. In addition, two of the offenders separately admitted to traveling to the hotel with the intent to engage in commercial sex with a prostituted woman. The third defendant reported to officials that he should have been more careful. All three male sex buyers were charged with patronizing prostitution, a misdemeanor count, and summary disorderly conduct. In addition, one offender was also charged with driving with a suspended license, a summary count.

In October, 2021, the Union County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI similarly conducted a joint online operation in Lewisburg, targeting individuals seeking to sexually exploit children in exchange for money. As a result of the investigation, three men were detained on charges of attempted enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity and prostitution. All three men were indicted on charges of attempted enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity and prostitution, three days after they were detained by law enforcement. In December of 2021, further information about the case revealed that offenders had responded to decoy ads on the website “Skip the Games,” and arranged to meet who they believed to be a 13-year-old girl in Lewisburg. The offenders, who had actually been in communication with law enforcement, were arrested upon their arrival to the predetermined location. The cases were brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. The identities of arrested offenders were included in reports by local media outlets.

Law enforcement has also apprehended sex buyers as a result of alternative investigations or residential complaints to local law enforcement. For example, in 1956, two men were indicted on federal sex trafficking charges after allegedly purchasing airline tickets to transport multiple women across the United States for the purpose of sex trafficking. In 1986, 11 individuals, five residents and six inmates at the Lewisburg Penitentiary were charged with being part of a conspiracy that used female visitors as “conduits for both drug and prostitution activity” during religious services in the chapel of the federal prison. According to federal prosecutors, the alleged drug and prostitution activity was recorded by surveillance cameras as a part of the investigation. In addition, officials reported that the prison administration had made special arrangements in order for the offenders to hold “what were supposedly religious services” that outside visitors were allowed to attend.
State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 5730
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