Andrew Hall, 27 has been charged with the felonies of promoting prostitution, criminal use of a communications facility, unlawful contact with a minor, sexual exploitation of children, statutory sexual assault, photographing child sex acts, and trafficking in individuals. According to Bensalem police, Hall was trafficking a 15-year old female victim in Bensalem. The Bensalem police allegedly found Hall leaving a room when responding to a report that a minor was possibly being prostituted at the Best Western at 3499 Street Road. Hall was detained and the police found the victim.
Purportedly, Hall admitted to posting ads with the picture of the minor victim for prostitution online. Hall admitted that the victim would send him pictures of herself, and the phone number on the ad was Hall’s phone number. The Bensalem police alleged they found several conversations on Hall’s phone from people looking for dates with the minor victim. Hall allegedly admitted to performing these acts after knowing that the victim was 15-years old. Finally, authorities allege that Hall also admitted to filming himself having sex with the 15-year old victim. Hall’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 2, 2020. As of Friday, Hall remained in Bucks County Prison, in lieu of posting 10% of his $1 million bail.
The CSE Institute applauds the Bensalem police department for their effective response in investigating and ultimately charging Hall with sex trafficking and related offenses. We encourage police officers to focus their efforts in charging traffickers and sex buyers who drive the demand for the commercial sex trade. It is unknown at this time whether resources are being offered to this minor victim.
We note that Pennsylvania’s Safe Harbor law exists to protect child victims of sex trafficking and provide services to assist child victims. The Safe Harbor law provides criminal immunity to sexually exploited children and represents a commitment to treating sexually exploited children as victims, not criminals. In addition, Pennsylvania’s Buyer Beware Act should be used to target sex buyers who “consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk” that the victim was being trafficked. In this case, it is very possible the victim was being bought by sex buyers who were not only aware of her age but also aware she was being trafficked, as Hall allegedly had frequent contact with sex buyers to arrange “dates” with the victim. We encourage Bensalem police department to continue their investigation to identify and charge the sex buyers who abused this minor victim in addition to her trafficker.
The CSE Institute would like to note that almost half of all traffickers of minors use the internet to advertise their victims and communicate with sex buyers. According to the FBI, there are currently an estimated 293,000 American children at risk of being exploited and trafficked for sex, the majority being between the ages of 12 and 14. It is also important to note that a majority of traffickers of minors use hotel rooms out of which victims are sexually exploited for profit. It is possible for hotels to be held criminally and civilly liable for their involvement in sex trafficking. Further, when hotel employees disregard indicators of sex trafficking and allow related criminal activity to occur on hotel property, the hotel itself effectively profits from the trafficking and can face criminal charges. It is uncertain at this time whether the hotel employees in this case knew this criminal activity was occurring yet continued to rent rooms to the trafficker and or sex buyers. In the interest of justice for the victim, the CSE Institute encourages a thorough investigation into all possible actors in addition to Hall who profited or benefitted from the sexual exploitation of this child victim.