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Poughkeepsie is a city of approximately 30,000 residents, situated midway between New York City and Albany in New York’s Hudson River Valley. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified as problems in the city and throughout the region for decades, and are seen by residents and civic leaders as among the key components of community degradation, and the loss of local business investment and population. Additional crimes associated with the local sex trade include drug trafficking, child sex trafficking, production of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state laws), and homicide. For example, in May, 2013, thirteen members of an alleged international sex trafficking ring were taken into custody to face charges for sex trafficking, resulting from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). A criminal complaint charged the defendants with sex trafficking; interstate transportation for prostitution; use of interstate facilities to promote a prostitution enterprise; obstruction of justice; possession of “child pornography;” and illegal reentry after deportation. The group allegedly exploited dozens of women, some of whom were trafficked from Mexico to New York and forced to engage in prostitution. HSI had executed search warrants on six locations, including four brothels in Yonkers, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, and Queens. In May, 2017, a Poughkeepsie man was arrested and held on rape charges after a juvenile told police she had been the victim of a sexual assault and possible sex trafficking. The juvenile had turned herself into the City of Poughkeepsie Police as having run away from a juvenile facility in Hawthrone about three months previously, and while being interviewed, the girl told officers about the assault and sex trafficking. A serial killer of local prostituted women drew national attention both to the presence of prostitution in the city and to the dangers posed to those engaged in commercial sex. Cases of sex trafficking and production of sex-trafficking related production of child sexual abuse materials have also been documented in the city, including regional and international human trafficking rings and circuits. For example, in July, 2022, federal authorities arrested a Mount Vernon man on charges of sex trafficking a minor and using interstate facilities to promote sex trafficking and prostitution. It was alleged that in January and February of that year, the man recruited a minor to engage in commercial sexual activity and caused her to do so on several occasions in hotels in the region. The man coordinated transportation to – and reserved rooms in – hotels, advertising to customers on websites, and profiting from the sex trafficking scheme. He was charged with sex trafficking a minor, which carries a prison sentence of from 10 years to life, and use of interstate facilities to promote unlawful activity, which can yield up to five years in prison. Assisting in the investigation were the Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force, Town and City of Poughkeepsie Police, Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, and New York City Police.
Among the efforts to combat the wide range of crimes and problems associated with the local sex trade have been use of demand reduction tactics. For example, the Poughkeepsie Police Department has conducted reverse stings periodically since 1977, and has released the identities of the men arrested to local news outlets. Local sex buyers have also lost employment as the result of allegations they had purchased sex. For example, in July 2015, a man in charge of Poughkeepsie school finances was allowed to resign in “good standing” -rather than being fired – after allegations that he asked a prostituted person to “service him” on district grounds surfaced, according to police and school district documents. The former Interim Assistant Superintendent of Finance resigned with a “positive reference letter,” according to his settlement agreement, which the Poughkeepsie Journal acquired from the district under the Freedom of Information Law. The district also agreed to expunge “any and all reports” relating to sexual allegations with a female adult from his personnel file, and not release any records about the incident unless required to by law, according to the settlement. But the man was not arrested, so he was not fired, with the school district agreeing to a settlement allowing him to resign. The district found out about the allegations when a woman emailed the Superintendent on June 9, according to a City of Poughkeepsie police report the Journal obtained under the Freedom of Information Law. In the email, the woman said that she had been “hired as a prostitute” several times by the man.
- Poughkeepsie Police Department
- “‘Hooker Customers’ Charged”, Newburgh Evening News, June 18 1977.
- “Poughkeepsie”, Hudson Valley Morning News, July 12 1991.
Sex Buyer Resigned Position in Response to Prostitution Allegations; Identity Disclosed:
- https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/school-admin-district-grounds (2015)
- https://www.docdroid.net/bronski-settlement-pdf (2015)
- https://www.docdroid.net/FRDsTaz/bronski-police-pdf (2015)
Local Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation, Related CSAM:
- “Sex-Trafficking Operations Expand Outside of Queens into New York City Suburbs”, New York Daily News, May 12 2013.
- https://www.ice.gov/hsi-special-agents-arrest-13-connection-alleged-international-sex-trafficking (2013)
Background on Prostitution, Related Drug Crimes, Violence in the Area:
- “Police Blotter”, Newburgh Evening News, January 23 1981.
- “Disappearance of Women May Be Linked, Police Say”, Buffalo News, November 22 1997.
- “7 Women Missing in Hudson Valley”, Schenectady Daily Gazette, August 31 1998.
- “Poughkeepsie Man Linked to Slayings of Eight Women”, New York Times, September 3 1998.
- “Police Are Criticized as Poughkeepsie House Yields Corpses”, New York Times, September 4 1998.
- “Poughkeepsie, in a Long Tailspin, Now Copes with a Clouded Image”, New York Times, October 5 1998.
- “Officials Mull Strategy in Serial-Murder Case”, Youngstown Vindicator, October 14 1998.
- “Poughkeepsie Working on Tattered Image; Town Seeks to Correct Decades of Miscues in Public Policy”, Baltimore Sun, February 15 1999.
- “Prostitution Still Problem in the City”, Poughkeepsie Journal, August 8 2000.
- “100 Pledge to Battle City Crime”, Poughkeepsie Journal, June 26 2006.
- “4 Women Charged with Prostitution”, Poughkeepsie Journal, October 18 2006.
- “Guardian Angels to Begin City Patrols”, Poughkeepsie Journal, February 19 2007.
- “Police: Killings Share Traits”, Poughkeepsie Journal, September 9 2007.
- “Mystery of 8 Missing Women Drew Wide Notoriety”, Poughkeepsie Journal, September 2 2008.
- https://www.dailyfreeman.com/prostitution-drug-probe-nets-13-arrests/ (2013)
- https://www.justice.gov/thirteen-individuals-charged-federal-court-international-sex-trafficking (2013)
- https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/village-fishkill-prostitution-arrests/ (2015)
- https://www.featureshoot.com/tragic-heartfelt-photos-streets-poughkeepsie/ (2017)
- https://dailyvoice.com/man-charged-with-rape-in-poughkeepsie-sex-trafficking-case (2017)
- https://hudsonvalleypost.com/local-author-to-release-new-thriller-about-poughkeepsie-murders/ (2022)
- https://www.amazon.com/Hooker-Avenue-Queen-Crimes-Novel (2022)
- https://hudsonvalleypost.com/new-york-state-police-charge-5-with-prostitution-in-hudson-valley/ (2022)
- https://midhudsonnews.com/man-who-choked-prostitute-and-held-cops-at-bay-enters-guilty-plea/ (2022)