Millcreek Township is a community in Erie County, Pennsylvania, and has a population of about 53,000. It is the largest suburb of Erie County, and the 14th-largest municipality in the state, larger than the cities of Altoona and Harrisburg. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in March, 2021 a New York man whom authorities have identified as a person of interest in a multi-agency interstate prostitution probe was jailed in Erie after Millcreek Township police accused him of setting up a sexual encounter between an adult woman and an undercover investigator. The man was taken into custody after investigators observed that he had brought a woman to a township hotel after investigators responded to an online advertisement offering massage services. Millcreek police wrote in the affidavit of probable cause filed with the criminal complaint that officers encountered him after a woman was driven to a hotel on Interchange Road to meet up with the undercover officer who responded to the online advertisement. Once inside the hotel, the woman told the officer that she would provide “sexual services” for $220, according to information in the affidavit.
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, local police have conducted reverse stings. For example, in December, 2013 an elected constable from Crawford County who acknowledged having consensual sex with a prostitute three times in the past year was sentenced in Erie County Court of Common Pleas. The man was originally charged in Erie County with having forced the woman to have sex at a price he set under the threat of arrest. His defense attorney argued that his client should only be sentenced on the misdemeanor prostitution charges to which he pleaded guilty in July, not on the initial allegations against him, but an Erie County Judge sentenced the man in the aggravated range, citing his position of authority as an elected law enforcement official at the time. He was scheduled go on trial in Erie County Court of Common Pleas on three counts each of rape by forcible compulsion, indecent assault by forcible compulsion, impersonating a public servant, official oppression, criminal solicitation of prostitution, and patronizing prostitutes; and one count of unlawful restraint. Instead, he entered a guilty plea to three counts of patronizing prostitutes in an agreement with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office. Each patronizing a prostitute charge that carried a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. The offender was sentenced to a total of 90 days to 12 months in jail with three days credit for one count followed by a total of two years of probation, and also was ordered to pay court costs. He was arrested by Millcreek Township Police Department for allegedly raping a woman twice in Millcreek Township, and once at a motel on Route 97 in Summit Township in three different incidents. Police accused the man of contacting the woman through an online ad, and, upon meeting her, showing his badge, handcuffs and gun and telling her he was an undercover detective investigating prostitution.
- Millcreek Township Police Department
- Erie County District Attorney’s Office
- Erie County Court of Common Pleas
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- https://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/local_news/constable-chamberlain-gets-at-least-days-in-prostitution-case (2013)
- http://www.erienewsnow.com/story/26595447/former-crawford-county-official-sentenced-in-rape-case (2014)
- https://www.google.com/search/NW PA Constable in Rapes of Prostitutes (2014)
- http://www.titusvilleherald.com/news/article (2014)
- https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/5/nw-pa-constable-to-court-in-rapes-of-prostitute/ (2014)
- https://cseinstitute.org/Report on Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Pennsylvania (2018)
- https://www.goerie.com/story/prostitution-millcreek-police-charge-ny-man-bringing-woman-hotel (2021)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: