State College, PA

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

State College is a municipality of about 43,000 residents in central Pennsylvania, and serves as the home of Penn State University’s main campus. Prostitution activity in the city is well-documented, and includes cases of college students engaged in exchanging money for sex and prostitution in massage businesses. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses.

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. For example, in February 2019, three men were arrested and later charged with having sex with prostitutes at a motel in State College, after a joint investigation by State College police and the state attorney general’s office. The two agencies received a tip in January 2019  from Brookville police about a possible prostitution or human trafficking operation based at the motel.  Officers later contacted two motel managers and were put in a room to establish surveillance.  Three men entered and then exited the room under surveillance, and all three were stopped by officers as they attempted to leave the hotel.  Each admitted to paying at least $140 for sex with one of the two women, and were each charged with one misdemeanor count of criminal solicitation and one misdemeanor count of patronizing prostitutes.  The men’s identities were publicly announced by police.

In May, 2019 one of the men pleaded not guilty to criminal solicitation and patronizing prostitutes, according to the Centre County Assistant District Attorney. The man was charged in March after confessing to police he paid more than $100 for sex with one woman, court documents indicated. He admitted to law enforcement officials from both the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General and State College Police Department that he had responded to an online advertisement and made arrangements to meet two girls on Jan. 31 at a motel on South Atherton Street. He told police he paid one of the women $140 to engage in sex with him, that he was quoted $160 for one hour and $300 for both girls and that he met girls like this “infrequently.”  Documents indicate police and the attorney general’s office were conducting a joint investigation into a human trafficking/prostitution ring after receiving a tip from Brookville Police Department during the department’s own prostitution investigation. Managers of the motel confirmed that the girls  reserved a room on Dec. 29 and were scheduled to check out on Feb. 4. The defendant, as well as two men from State College, were observed entering and exiting the room the girls had rented during the agencies’ surveillance on Jan. 31.  According to court documents, the two men from State College were charged in connection to the investigation.


Key Partners

  • State College Police Department
  • Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office
State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 42430
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