Scranton, Pa

Allentown Pimp Found Guilty Under Pennsylvania’s Reformed Human Trafficking Laws

Posted: February 11, 2016

On February 3, 2016 the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office secured the first guilty verdict after a jury trial under Pennsylvania’s reformed human trafficking statute Act 105 (2014). The Pennsylvania statute clearly defines sex trafficking and lists thirteen factors that make out the criminal elements of force, fraud, or coercion.  This expansion was designed to make it easier for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute traffickers or “pimps”.

Last year, Isaac Pearson, 34, was arrested and charged with Trafficking in Individuals (18 Pa.C.S. §3011) after one of his victims was recovered in a prostitution sting and provided the police with his identity. The victim told law enforcement that Pearson forced her to engage in sexual acts and he would take all of the money she earned. Pearson exhibited common pimp behaviors, including deliberately preying on women with heroin addictions by controlling their access to the drug and threatening physical force on victims when other victims would escape.  Pearson’s acts were blatantly in violation of three parts of §3012(b) by “causing or threatening to cause serious harm to an individual,” “duress, through the use of or threat to use unlawful force against the person or another,” and “facilitating or controlling the individual’s access to a controlled subject.” (18 Pa.C.S. §3012(b)(1), (10), and (12).

Pearson represented himself throughout his three-day jury trial in Lehigh County. His rash and egotistical natures were put on full display as Judge Maria L. Dantos threatened to eject Pearson from the courtroom following continued disobedience. In an effort to win over the jury, Pearson told a teary-eyed story about his experience trying to convince a woman to quit using heroin. And while he admitted to posting sex-ads online, he alleged that nothing that occurred as a result of those ads was involuntary.

Deputy District Attorney Robert Schopf accurately described Pearson as a “wolf” who deliberately preyed on women with an addiction to heroin. Mr. Schopf also presented into evidence a recording of a phone conversation the defendant made while incarcerated awaiting trial in which he berated one of his victims for cooperating with the police. Within an hour of deliberation, the jury returned a guilty verdict on human trafficking charges.  Pearson now awaits sentencing on March 4, 2016.

Pearson’s conviction serves as a reminder that the sex trafficking is occurring right here in our Commonwealth.  Mr. Schopf’s victory will hopefully serve as a deterrent to future traffickers as it coveys the power and breadth of Act 105 (2014). The CSE Institute is pleased to see Pennsylvania’s new legislation making a positive impact on our state’s efforts to combat human trafficking.  We congratulate the Lehigh County District Attorney’s office on their successful prosecution.

Web Sources:

Other Sources:

18 Pa.C.S. § 3011, 3012

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