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Vernon Township is a township of approximately 5,400 residents in northwestern Pennsylvania located in Crawford County, PA. Although prostitution and sex trafficking are not significant issues in the township, instances of their occurrence have been reported. Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in February 2018, a Vernon Township man was arrested in Flagstaff, AZ, following a nationwide search led by the U.S. Marshals Service. The man, a convicted sex offender, was wanted for failing to surrender to serve a 10-year prison term for child sex trafficking charges. Deputy Marshals were dispatched to multiple states and eventually developed information that the sex trafficker had traveled to Flagstaff. Investigation revealed that he was employing an alias and had disguised his appearance to avoid capture. In the fall of 2018, the sex trafficker was sentenced in federal court to 18 months of imprisonment, to run consecutive to his prior 10-year sentence, and three years of supervised release, to run concurrently to his prior term of supervised release on his conviction of Failure of to Register as a Sex Offender and Failure to Surrender for Service of Sentence.
In effort to reduce demand for commercial sex in the area, police have been known to arrest sex buyers. For example, in 2019, the Pennsylvania State Police conducted an investigation in response to residential complaint concerning suspected prostitution occurring at a local motel. PSP troopers arrested a Hartstown man and an Erie woman for allegedly engaging in a commercial sex transaction. The woman was arrested for prostitution and the male sex buyer was arrested for patronizing a prostitute. According to the criminal complaint, police alleged that the man “did hire a prostitute from an online website for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity,” and the woman “did promote prostitution via an online website and did engage in prostitution as a business for financial benefit.” According to reports, police were tipped off by an Uber driver who had driven the woman to the motel, then contacted authorities. During the ride, the woman had told the driver she was nervous as it was her “first attempt at prostitution.” The identities of both the male sex buyer and the prostituted woman were included in reports by local media outlets.
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/two-face-prostitution-charges-after-alleged-vernon-township-encounter/article (2019)
- https://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/probation-for-hartstown-man-in-prostitution-case/article (2020)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdpa/pr/wexford-man-sentenced-10-years-prison-conspiring-traffic-minor-sex (2017)
- https://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/full-story-u-s-marshals-capture-wanted-former-vernon-township-man/article (2018)
- https://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/local_news/former-vernon-township-man-pleads-guilty-over-not-reporting-to-prison/article (2018)
- https://www.yourerie.com/news/local-news/former-vernon-township-man-pleads-guilty-to-new-charges/ (2018)
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdpa/pr/sex-offender-sentenced-18-more-months-prison-fleeing-pennsylvania-avoid-serving-10-year (2018)