Tyrone Borough, PA
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Tyrone is a borough of roughly 5,000 residents in Blair County, Pennsylvania, 15 miles northeast of Altoona, on the Little Juniata River. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the borough and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking, and some cases of local cases have involved child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often referred to in state laws as “child pornography). For example, in September, 2022, a Blair County man was arrested and faced dozens of charges involving child pornography and human trafficking. He was arraigned in the Magisterial District Court on 15 felony charges each of photographing, filming, or depicting a sex act involving a child and of disseminating explicit sexual material to a minor; eight felony counts each of trafficking in individuals-recruit/entice/solicit, of corruption of minors, of unlawful contact with a minor-sexual offenses and of drug possession with intent to deliver; three felony counts of criminal solicitation; two felony counts each of trafficking in individuals for financial benefit, of child pornography and of criminal solitication-sexual exploitation of children; one felony count each of criminal soliticiation-involuntary deviate sexual intercourse of a person less than 16 years of age and of criminal solicitation-involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child; and 10 felony counts of criminal use of a communication facility. He also faced two misdemeanor counts of corruption of minors and a misdemeanor count of indecent assault of a person less than 16 years old. The man was denied bail due to the threat to the community and safety of the victims, his flight risk and the nature of the charges, and was remanded to the Blair County Prison awaiting a preliminary hearing.
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. Demand reduction tactics used in the town include the arrest of sex buyers and the public disclosure of their identities. For example, in August, 2022 a man was arrested on charges stemming from a five-month investigation by the Tyrone Borough Police Department after a minor female told police that the man provided numerous minors with marijuana in exchange for sexual acts. The police department said that 11 minor victims were identified and forensic interviews were conducted. The victims ranged from 12 to 17 years old. Borough police executed a search warrant on the man’s West 14th Street home and seized three iPhones, a Playstation, two HP laptops, an iWatch, cable modem, related charging cords, 297 grams of marijuana, clear sandwich bags, a silver scale and a glass pipe with residue. Officers also received permission from parents and guardians to review the contents of cellphones belonging to the minors, court documents state. During subsequent interviews, police said the minors reported talking to the man on Snapchat and meeting him in person. He allegedly sent nude photos of himself to one 15-year-old, who said he sent photos at least once a day starting in December 2021 and continued for about two months. He also offered her free marijuana, alcohol and money in exchange for a sex act, the teen told police. A 17-year-old told police she received marijuana from the man for about two years. In October 2021, the suspect began asking the girl for nude photos and she provided him with pictures a couple of times in exchange for marijuana. At least once, the man requested sex and he would send random pictures and videos of his genitals, she said. He also talked about her 12-year-old sister, asking the girl to talk the youngster into having sex with him for money. The 12-year-old said she began talking to the man through Snapchat and then he began asking for photos of her body. He offered money, marijuana and tobacco for the pictures, and he continued to ask, even though she said no, she said, and he sent photos of his genitals. He allegedly also offered her money for oral sex. Another 15-year-old said the man added her to Snapchat when she was 12 or 13 years old and conversations became sexual in nature, with him again asking for sex and sex acts in exchange for marijuana. She bought marijuana from him, the teen told police, and received nude photos of him on multiple occasions. Four other minors, ranging in age from 15 to 17, told police that the man was their marijuana dealer and they also reported using Snapchat and that the man sent nude photos, asked for sex, sex acts and nude photos in exchange for the drug. One 17-year-old said she began purchasing marijuana from the suspect, but the exchanges turned sexual, with the man giving her marijuana for sex acts and nude photos. He also sent her nude photos of himself via Snapchat and she received images about three times a week from November 2021 until April of 2022, when she contacted police. Police said a majority of the in-person contacts with the man occurred at a Tyrone Borough church. At least one incident occurred in the parking lot of Penn Highlands Tyrone Hospital, police stated. All victims reported receiving unsolicited photos of his genitals and the photos appeared to have been taken in his bedroom, according to court documents. A search of the man’s cellphone turned up photos of the girls as well as images of large amounts of marijuana and cash. Videos, including of a minor girl giving oral sex to a minor boy, were found on the phone. Police said 20 images and/or videos depicting “child pornography” were found and that the man provided eight minors with photos of his genitals. He also provided seven of the juveniles with marijuana and arranged drug sales or disseminated pornographic images to nine individuals, meeting individuals at various spots in Tyrone Borough to make drug deliveries.
- Tyrone Borough Police Department
Arrest of Sex Buyer, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.altoonamirror.com/man-faces-underage-sex-crime-charges/ (2022)
- https://parentsecurityonline.com/minorsextrafficking-man-faces-underage-sex-crime-charges-news-sports-jobs/ (2022)
Background on Local Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, Related CSAM and Drug Offenses:
- https://www.newspapers.com/grace-mcmonigal-arrested-for/ (1919)
- https://old.post-gazette.com/regionstate/asp (2001)
- https://operationourtown.org/AR2021Website-2-19-21.pdf (2013)
- https://www.ydr.com/suspected-prostitute-new-cumberland-hotel (2018)
- https://www.facebook.com/AltoonaPD/posts (2018)
- http://www.altoonamirror.com/child-porn-case-suspect-expected-to-plead-guilty/. (2019)
- https://www.leadertelegram.com/woman-accused-of-soliciting-prostitution-in-altoona (2020)
- https://www.weau.com/hearing-former-altoona-superintendent-rescheduled-at-request-of-defense-attorney/ (2020)
- https://wjactv.com/court-docs-altoona-man-sentenced-12-25-years-for-child-sex-related-crimes (2020)
- https://www.altoonamirror.com/city-pair-seeking-separate-trials/ (2020)
- https://www.altoonamirror.com/coalport-man-held-in-alleged-prostitution-sting/ (2020)
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