On February 16, 2023, eight men were arrested and charged with patronizing prostitutes by the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office. The men that were charged in this sting include Lucas Blackwell from Elizabethtown, PA, Eric Long from Pitman, PA, Andrew Clemm from Dauphin, PA, Ricky Henry from York, PA, Hamid Oudaha from Camp Hill, PA, Thomas Heilman from Manchester, PA, Michael McCue from East Petersburg, PA, and Eric Shell from Harrisburg, PA, as named in the District Attorney’s press release. These men allegedly arrived at hotel in Wormelsyburg, PA and offered to pay an undercover police officer for sex.
These latest arrests are part of the Cumberland County’s operation “Impact Demand,” started June 2022. As we have previously reported, operation “Impact Demand” is part of a joint effort by the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, and local police departments, like West Shore Regional Police Department, to target sex buyers. Since its beginning, the operation has led to the arrest of twenty-five sex buyers. District Attorney Seán M. McCormack issued a warning reminding people not to attempt to buy sex as they, “may find themselves part of the next group of individuals we arrest.”
Our Director and Co-founder, Shea Rhodes, commented on the efforts in Cumberland County and stated that they should be, “replicated throughout the Commonwealth.” The CSE Institute advocates for the equality model and supports law enforcement targeting demand in the sex trade. The four key elements of the equality model are (1) decriminalization of persons in prostitution, (2) criminalization of sex buyers and facilitators with a commitment to treating buying sex as a serious crime, (3) a public education campaign about the inherent harms of prostitution, and (4) funded, robust, holistic exit services for victims of commercial sexual exploitation. By criminalizing the buying of sex to decrease demand with the goal of decreasing the number of victims of commercial sexual exploitation within our communities. Further, the decriminalization of people in prostitution recognizes that people being bought and sold for sex are victims being exploited, rather than criminals worthy of punishment.
The CSE Institute commends the District Attorney Seán M. McCormack and the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office on their successful operation. Further, the CSE Institute recognizes the continuing efforts of the investigators to focus on arresting those attempting to buy sex in their community. By targeting the demand of sex buyers, the law enforcement officials are targeting the root cause of sexual exploitation.
The CSE Institute will continue to provide updates on this matter.
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.