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Robinson Township is a township of roughly 14,000 residents in western Pennsylvania, approximately 12 miles west of Pittsburgh, located in Allegheny County, PA. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the township and greater county area. This activity and its ancillary crimes has resulted in complaints to local law enforcement by residents and businesses. More recently, local law enforcement has focused on combatting the online commercial sex market. For example, in April 2009, a search of the “erotic services” listing for Craigslist-Pittsburgh found 377 ads listed just in the “w4m,” or “women for men” categories, including three advertisers listing their locations as Robinson Township. Many of the ads contained sexualized photos of women, as well as prices for various sex acts – such as $100 for 30 minutes, or an “out call” for $300 per hour. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.
In effort to combat commercial sex in the area, police have been known to conduct both street-level and web-based reverse sting operations. For example, in 2010, undercover Robinson Township Police officers told Channel 11 News that they were actively conducting web-based reverse sting operations, arresting both prostituted women and sex buyers at local hotels. In addition, officers were running surveillance of local hotels from unmarked vehicles.
In April 2021, the Pennsylvania Attorney General announced the arrest of two individuals for seeking sexual contact with undercover law enforcement agents posing as minors Friday. These arrests are the result of an undercover investigation conducted by the Office of Attorney General and Robinson Township Police concerning online child exploitation and human trafficking throughout western Pennsylvania. According to Attorney General Shapiro, law enforcement has recently increased efforts to combat child sex trafficking in the state,
“Our Organized Crime Unit has been very active in investigating human trafficking cases across Pennsylvania, and will continue to prosecute offenders who exploit children and create a market for human trafficking. Thanks to strong collaboration with our local law enforcement partners, we will hold these individuals accountable for their crimes, and uncover child predators – wherever we find them.”
Agents from the Office of Attorney General (OAG) and Robinson Township Police arrested a 58-year-old man after he allegedly attempted to to solicit sexual services from an agent posing as a minor boy and an adult male trafficker, on April 22, 2021. He was charged with one count of Unlawful Contact with a Minor, one count of Attempted Patronizing a Victim of Sexual Servitude, one count of Attempted Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, and one count of Criminal Use of a Communications Facility. The following day, as part of a similar investigation, agents from the OAG and Robinson Township Police also arrested a 55-year-old man, after he similarly attempted to solicit sexual services from an agent posing as a minor and an adult trafficker. He was charged with one count of Unlawful Contact with a Minor, one count of Attempted Patronizing a Victim of Sexual Servitude, one count of Attempted Statutory Sexual Assault, and one count of Criminal Use of a Communication Facility. The cases are being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Summer Carroll. All charges are accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. This investigation was assisted by the OAG’s Child Predator Section. The identities, photos, ages, and hometowns of arrested offenders were included in reports by local media outlets.
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Cameras, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.wpxi.com/news/robinson-township-police-target-online-prostitutio/ (2010)
- https://www.post-gazette.com/two-men-arrested-robinson-human-trafficking-john-carter-simon-whaby-pa-attorney-general (2021)
- https://www.wpxi.com/news/top-stories/two-men-arrested-robinson-twp-connection-with-human-trafficking-child-sex-investigation (2021)
- https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/04/29/robinson-township-human-trafficking-investigation/ (2021)
- https://www.mytwintiers.com/news-cat/top-stories/ag-shapiro-arrests-two-in-western-pennsylvania-human-trafficking-investigation/ (2021)
- https://www.northcentralpa.com/news/2-arrested-in-western-pa-human-trafficking-investigation (2021)
- https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/press-releases/ag-shapiro-arrests-two-in-western-pa-human-trafficking-investigation/ (2021)
- AG Shapiro Arrests Two In Western PA Human Trafficking Investigation (2021)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: