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Shamokin is a city of roughly 7,000 residents in eastern Pennsylvania located in Northumberland County, PA. It is surrounded by Coal Township at the western edge of the Anthracite Coal Region in central Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River Valley. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas. This activity and its ancillary crimes has resulted in complaints to local law enforcement from residents and businesses. Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market are child sex trafficking and child endangerment. For example, in 1985, a 14-year-old girl testified that a Shamokin couple had allegedly sex trafficked her when she was 13-years-old in exchange for a $45 change of tires. As a result of the investigation, a total of five individuals were arrested for various child sex trafficking and related charges. One of the women arrested during the investigation was also charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
In effort to combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the city, tactics focused on reducing the demand for commercial sex have been implemented. Sex buyers and sex traffickers have been apprehended by local law enforcement as a result of alternative investigations and residential reports to police. For example, in 2021, a married Shamokin couple and a Sunbury resident were among four individuals facing felony prostitution charges after Shamokin police uncovered a prostitution ring in the city. The investigation was initiated after a woman called police to report that “she was being ‘pimped out’ to a male man.” She told police that she had engaged in commercial sex with the 42-year-old Sunbury man for $300 because she “needed a place to live.” The sex buyer paid the couple to engage in commercial sex with the victim. The victim was originally charged with two felony charges of prostitution and one felony of criminal use of a communication facility however, the judge later dismissed these charges. The male sex buyer was arrested and held for court on two counts of prostitution (promoting prostitution and patronizing prostitutes) and one count of criminal conspiracy to commit prostitution. The charges were initially filed as felonies, but were reduced to misdemeanors at the hearing. The couple was charged with six felony counts of prostitution (promoting prostitution), felonies of criminal conspiracy and criminal use of a communication facility, and a misdemeanor of corruption of minors. The identities, ages, and hometowns of arrested offenders were included in reports by local media outlets.
Loss of employment is also a consequence of buying sex in the city. For example, in 2016, 39-year-old a state revenue enforcement officer and high school basketball coach at the Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School, was one of 12 male sex buyers arrested after allegedly attempting to solicit sex acts in exchange for money with an undercover female Lancaster officer posing as a prostituted woman. As a result of his arrest, the Our Lady of Lourdes Athletic Director notified the male sex buyer that his contract will not be renewed. According to reports, the sex buyer had been a coach for 14 years posting a 196-156 record at the school. His identity and image were included in reports by local media outlets.
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- New charges in Shamokin sex case (1985)
- https://www.dailyitem.com/news/local_news/shamokin-couple-sunbury-man-face-prostitution-charges/article (2021)
- https://www.standard-journal.com/news/local/article (2021)
Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/06/basketball_coach_state_worker.html (2016)
- https://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/08/state_revenue_officer_charged.html (2016)
- https://www.dailyitem.com/news/northumberland_county/lourdes-basketball-coach-charged-in-prostitution-sting-in-lancaster/article (2016)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: