On September 27, 2018, Wayne County District Attorney, Patrick L. Robinson, announced eleven arrests connected with a “prostitution sting” conducted on Tuesday, September 25, 2018. The arrests include six male sex buyers, four female prostituted persons, and one trafficker. The sting included help and support from the Wayne County Drug Task Force, Wayne County Children & Youth Service, Monroe County Detectives Office, Pike County Detectives Office, FBI Violent Crimes Task Force, and the Truth Home.
All six male sex buyers were charged with one count of patronizing prostitutes (a third degree misdemeanor) and one count of disorderly conduct (a summary offense):Brian Merritt, 40 of Honesdale, Pennsylvania; Jason Nepa, 36, of Jefferson, Pennsylvania; Michael Bauman, 63, of Pittston, Pennsylvania; John Menapace, 73, of Lake Ariel; David Pomeren, 62, of South Abington, Pennsylvania; and David Ferguson, 36, of Port Jervis, Pennsylvania. They were released on a summons.
Of the four women arrested, one was charged with one count of prostitution (a third degree misdemeanor);one count of possession of drug paraphernalia (a misdemeanor);and one count of disorderly conduct, (a summary offense). Another was charged with one count of prostitution (a third degree misdemeanor); and one count of disorderly conduct (a summary offense). Two women were charged with one count of promoting prostitution by encouraging, inducing, or otherwise intentionally causing another to become or remain a prostitute (a third degree felony) and one count of promoting prostitution by transporting a person with intent to promote prostitution (a second degree misdemeanor). Each woman’s bail was set at $25,000.00.
Prince Rodriguez, 33, from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was also charged with one count of promoting prostitution by encouraging, inducing, or otherwise intentionally causing another to become or remain a prostitute (a third degree felony); as well as one count of promoting prostitution by transporting a person with intent to promote prostitution (a second degree misdemeanor). When taken into custody, Rodriguez was armed with a loaded 9 mm pistol. During a subsequent search of his vehicle, police officers found additional firearms.Bail for Rodriguez was set at $50,000.00.
Regarding the arrests, District Attorney Robinson stated, “This prostitution sting is a first for Wayne County, at least in the last 25 years that I have worked in the District Attorney’s Office. Keep in mind that prostitution is not a victimless crime. Prostitution is often associated with human trafficking, illegal drugs, guns, and violence. The purpose of this prostitution sting was to create a public awareness and deter anyone from buying sex. It is a crime and those who are caught will have their mug shots and names published in the media. If these arrests and this press release do not deter prostitution and solicitation of prostitutes in Wayne County, I do not know what will.”
The CSE Institute applauds the Wayne County District Attorney’s Office and the Wayne County Sherriff’s Officefor targeting sex traffickers and those who buy sex with this recent investigation. As advocates of the Nordic Model, we support criminalizing and targeting those who purchase sex rather than those being exploited. Individuals who are suspected to be pimps should not only be charged with promoting prostitution, but also sex trafficking. Additionally, we would like to remind law enforcement that prostituted persons are victims and are best served through social services and other interventions. They do not deserve to be arrested nor do they deserve their information and mugshots published. The District Attorney is correct in stating that prostitution is not a victimless crime, however, publishing the mugshots of prostituted persons only furthers their victimization. We hope that, while law enforcement agencies continue to recognize that targeting purchasers of sex rather than those being exploited is the best strategy for ending commercial sexual exploitation, they do so in a manner that does not further harm victims.
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 Villanova University.