Reading is a city in southeastern Pennsylvania with a population of approximately 80,000, near Allentown. The community has reported chronic problems with prostitution, as well as cases of sex trafficking of minors, robberies of attempted sex buyers, and targeted sexual assaults of women engaged in commercial sex.
The Reading Police Department has been conducting reverse stings since 1976 on a periodic basis. Complaints from residents is one of the key reasons police conduct prostitution operations. According to RPD representatives surveyed for the National Assessment, the city conducts about three or four reverse stings per year. They also said that they have sent “Dear John” letters to the addresses of registered owners of autos seen attempting to engage prostituted women (since 2007), and released the identities of arrestees to the media (since 1995). The “Dear John” letters are intended to be educational rather than accusatory. Surveillance cameras and public education efforts have been used to deter johns.
A nonprofit organization, Freedom and Restoration for Everyone Enslaved (FREE), has engaged in educational activities that focus on the need to reduce demand for commercial sex among other topics. For example, they hope to reduce demand by educating men about the negative conditions and outcomes of those working in commercial sex.
- Reading Police Department
- Allentown Police Department
- FREE (Freedom and Restoration for Everyone Enslaved)
- National Assessment Survey and Interviews
- Street-Level Reverse Stings (with Shaming since at least 2007):
- “Reading Red-Light District Losing Its Pros and Johns,” Reading Eagle, January 26 1988.
- “Prostitution Persistent, Costly Problem,” Reading Eagle, September 6 2002.
- “City and State Police Arrest 12 in Prostitution Roundup,” Reading Eagle, July 13 2007.
- “Prostitution Sting Results in 7 Arrests of Men on 2nd Day; Police Say the Defendants Offered to Pay for Sex with Four Female Police Officers Disguised as Prostitutes,” Reading Eagle, July 14 2007.
- “Letters from the Law List Drivers’ Activities: When Someone Is Seen Cruising Areas Known for Prostitution, Police Notify the Registered Owner of the Vehicle’s Recent Whereabouts,” Reading Eagle, June 16 2007.
- “John Letters Remain Part of Fight vs. Prostitution: Reading Police Don’t Know If Correspondence Sent to Owners of Vehicles Believed to Be Trolling for Prostitutes Is Having an Impact,” Reading Eagle, September 1 2008.
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Eleven Now Charged in Reading Sex Case,” Allentown Morning Call, January 19 1986.
- “2 Held in Prostitution of 2 Kidnapped Girls,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 22 1986.
- “Former Reading Police Officer Sentenced in Connection with Sex Trafficking Case,” U.S. Federal News Service, September 26 2012.
- “Ex-School Counselor who Calls Himself ‘God’ Sentenced in Sex Trafficking,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 19 2015.
- “Allentown Man Admits Forcing Women into Sex Trafficking Ring,” Allentown Morning Call, October 30 2015.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Prostitution Report Studied,” Reading Eagle, October 3 1966.
- “Robberies Rise as Prostitution Falls in Reading Police,” Allentown Morning Call, April 24 1986.
- “Prostitutes with AIDS May Face New Charges; Reading Police Consider Arrests for Recklessly Endangering Others,” Allentown Morning Call, February 14 1987.
- “Prostitution Suspects to Get Checkups,” Reading Eagle, April 3 1987.
- “Prostitution Suspect Charged,” Reading Eagle, May 5 1987.
- “Police Breakup 25-Year-Old Prostitution Ring in Central Pa.,” Gettysburg Times, July 5 1997.
- “Prostitution Sting,” Reading Eagle, May 28 1998.
- “Five Suspects Arrested in Prostitution Sweep,” Reading Eagle, September 2 1988.
- “Six Arrested in Prostitution Roundup,” Reading Eagle, November 9 2003.
- “City Police Charge 5 Prostitution Suspects,” Reading Eagle, May 10 2008.
- “10 Women Arrested on Prostitution Charges during Sweep,” Reading Eagle, March 22 2012.
- “Reading Police Arrest 5 Women on Prostitution Charges,” Reading Eagle, August 3 2012.
- “4 Women Arrested during Prostitution Detail,” Reading Eagle, January 22 2013.
- “Six Women Arrested in Reading Prostitution Sting,” Reading Eagle, August 14 2014.
- https://www.wfmz.com/news/berks/reading-police-bust-8-women-in-undercover-prostitution-sting (2015)
- https://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/5-women-arrested-in-reading-in-prostitution-sting (2017)
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: