Six men and two women were arrested in Northampton County following an undercover operation at a Hanover Township Motel, according to a report from Lehigh Valley Live. Bruce Pudliner, Samer Chatieh, Robert Halpin, Kevin Devera, and Harold Morlez were arrested on charges of patronizing a prostitute (a third-degree misdemeanor). Patrick Phillip Banks was arrested on a charge of promoting prostitution (a third-degree misdemeanor). The two women were arrested on prostitution charges.
According to WFMZ News,the first five men were arrested after they agreed to perform sex acts with an undercover female police officer for money. Two women were also arrested after allegedly agreeing to perform a sex act on an undercover male police officer for money. Banks was committed to a Northampton County prison on an outstanding warrant from New Jersey. He was the only male charged with promoting prostitution, a pimping charge, as a result of the operation.
Law enforcement agencies from Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Monroe County worked with the Colonial Regional Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to effectuate the arrests. The Lehigh Valley Crimes Victims Council was also present. This operation was conducted with the cooperation of the motel which has not been identified.
The CSE Institute commends the Morning Call for not naming any of the prostituted persons involved in this operation. We continue to encourage the media to refrain from publishing the names, and especially the addresses, of prostituted persons. These individuals are victims of sexual violence, and as such the Institute insists that the media to be more conscientious in their decisions to share this personal information. The CSE Institute also commends Northampton County for securing the arrest of the six sex buyers during the operation. The CSE Institute continues to advocate for the Nordic Model, which aims to punish those responsible for buying sex rather than punishing women who are being sexually exploited.
Notably, the media chose to describe this as a “sex trafficking sting.” Using the language of sex trafficking implies that there were individuals being exploited. Women who have been exploited for commercial sex are victims and should not be arrested under any circumstances. The CSE Institute commends law enforcement for their arrests of those purchasing sex. However, it is unacceptable to claim an anti-trafficking agenda for an operation while simultaneously arresting the very individuals who are being exploited. Those who have endured sexual violence and exploitation must be treated as victims of a crime, rather than as perpetrators of one.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or Villanova University.