Scranton, Pa

Delaware County Man Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking 18-year-old Girl

Posted: April 19, 2024

On March 29,Louis Fountain, a 34-year-old resident of Delaware County, pled guilty to seven charges related to his trafficking of an 18-year-old girl in Lancaster County including two counts of trafficking individuals, four counts of promoting prostitution, and one count of living off prostitutes. President Judge Ashworth of Lancaster County sentenced Fountain to one year, 11 months, and 8 days of prison and five years of probation.

The investigation into Fountain began in March 2022, when the Lancaster County Human Trafficking Task Force (HTFF) observed an online advertisement listing a female available to perform sex acts in Lancaster County. The HTTF is a collaboration of local, county, state, and federal governments, private organizations, and non-profit organizations that investigate and prosecute crimes of human trafficking; ensurs all victims are identified and supported; and foster community awareness. Fountain was HTTF’s first arrest.

Upon seeing the advertisement, HTTF detectives texted the number listed in the advertisement, agreeing to pay $260 to spend an hour with the female at a hotel in Lancaster City. The undercover detective met with the victim at the hotel, gave her the money, and discussed the sexual acts that would occur. The arrest team then entered the hotel room.

The 18-year-old victim told investigators that she met Fountain online and they began dating. She explained that Fountain told her that if she had sex with other men, she could make good money. The victim told investigators that she was making more than $1,000 a day, but Fountain took all of the money. Police found and seized $1,765 in that hotel room.

The victim also explained that Fountain took her to other hotels, including in Lancaster, Harrisburg, and the state of Delaware. The police confirmed this by looking into hotel documents, cross-checking internet advertisements, and reviewing surveillance footage. Documents seized from various hotel rooms revealed that Fountain spent thousands of dollars on hotel rooms from the end of 2021 to March of 2022.

After the incident with the 18-year-old in March 2022, HTFF continued monitoring Fountain and eventually arrested him on April 21, 2022 after he checked into another Lancaster City hotel with the victim. Fountain claimed that he met the victim on a dating site, and he was trying to help her become a model.

Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams, said “Human trafficking is occurring right here in Lancaster County. It is a profitable crime and can occur in any hotel in Lancaster County. Every hotel is vulnerable.”  Adams thanked the hotels for their cooperation, stating, “I want to thank both hotels involved in this case for their vigilance and for their full and complete cooperation with law enforcement, and I would urge the public to also remain vigilant because awareness and vigilance go a long way toward helping law enforcement fight this plague.”

The CSE Institute notes that hotels and motels are among the most common venues that facilitate and financially benefit from sex trafficking. These venues provide both easy entry and financial secrecy for sex buyers. The Trafficking Victims’ Protection Act provides means to hold hotels both criminally and civilly liable for sex trafficking. In fact, in February of 2023, owners of a Days Inn hotel in Philadelphia were required to pay $24 million to 8 female victims, ranging from ages 14 to 17 at the time, who were forced into prostitution at their hotels. The victims stated that the trafficking was “open, obvious, and notorious,” and should have been recognizable to the hotel staff. This settlement was reached by Nadeem Bezar of Kline & Specter, PC, who stated, “It’s now time to hold the hotel owners accountable. Plain and simple, this type of activity should not be allowed to go on anywhere.”

The CSE Institute urges the hospitality industry to take ownership of this problem and confront it with tangible solutions. These solutions may include mandatory trainings for all hotel and motel management and employees to help them recognize sex trafficking, and implementing plan that provides what to do if they suspect trafficking. The CSE Institute also urges the industry to stop turning a blind eye to the commercial sexual exploitation happening within hotels. Instead, hotels and motels should become a leading force in stopping this exploitation altogether. The CSE Institute recognizes the need for legislation requiring these types of training, policies, and procedures to be implemented in every hotel and motel across the country.

The CSE Institute commends Lancaster County’s District Attorney’s Office and Lancaster County’s HTFF for their investigative and prosecutorial efforts to ensure that individuals who sexually exploit others are held accountable. Most importantly, the CSE Institute applauds the bravery of the survivor in this case. It is irrefutable that survivor’s voices will be the force of change in the sex trafficking narrative.

All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University. 

Category: News

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