On July 3, 2018, prosecutors in Blair County, Pennsylvania, announced that two individuals had been charged with trafficking of minors for the first time in the history of the county.
Court records show that Kara S. Tornatore, 28, was charged with one count of conspiracy to photograph, film, or depict a child engaged in a sex act (a second degree felony); sixteen counts of photographing, filming, or depicting a child engaged in a sex act (a second degree felony); sixteen counts of child pornography (a second degree felony); one count of sexual exploitation of children (a second degree felony); one count of unlawful contact with a minor (a first degree felony); one count of corruption of minors (a third degree felony); one count of indecent assault by threat of forcible compulsion (a Class 1 misdemeanor); one count of invasion of privacy (a Class 3 misdemeanor); one count of interception, disclosure or use of wire, electronic or oral communications (a third degree felony); one count of disseminating explicit sexual material of a minor (a third degree felony); one count of trafficking in minors (a first degree felony); and one count of designing or copying obscene material (a Class 1 misdemeanor).
Court records additionally show that Stephen Jason Apostolu, 30, faces the same charges as Tornatore plus one count of aggravated indecent assault by threat of forcible compulsion (a second degree felony).
The Altoona Mirror reported that the charges were filed following an investigation into an alleged Altoona child pornography ring. During the course of the investigation, a flash drive was found which revealed photos and videos of children being sexual victimized. One child, who was identified as a 16 year-old female, told investigators that after being allegedly threatened by Apostulo, Tornatore led her into a room where she allegedly sexually assaulted her and took photos. A hidden camera purportedly recorded the attack.
Tornatore had fled to Pasco County, Florida, in early June. She was taken into custody and is currently awaiting extradition to Blair County.
Apostulo was already being held in Blair County Prison on unrelated robbery charges. He has also been implicated in another case involving a 17 year-old female victim. His alleged co-conspirator is 35 year-old Amy Brosch. Our report on that case.
The CSE Institute applauds the Blair County prosecutors in filing the county’s first human trafficking charges. However, we encourage prosecutors statewide to utilize Pennsylvania’s human trafficking laws more often, when appropriate. The Commonwealth’s comprehensive human trafficking law was enacted in 2014 and we would like to see further efforts in combating the evil that is trafficking.
Additional electronic media storage devices were found at Tornatore and Apostulo’s rented home on the 400 block of Third Avenue. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit has joined investigators in sifting through the files found. We will report updates on this matter as the investigation and prosecution continues to unfold.
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.