Marcus Rondinella, 26, of Dallas, has been charged with patronizing prostitutes and criminal attempt to patronize prostitutes. Rondinella was arrested for allegedly trying to hire a prostituted person over the Internet for sex in the Poconos. Rondinella was arrested after he arrived at the Days Inn Hotel in Middle Smithfield Township where he allegedly agreed to pay $200 for sex.
While in custody, officials said Rondinella refused to give police further information and insisted on speaking with the “girl” he contacted on the internet. He was later fingerprinted, photographed, and released. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday, October 28 at 10:40 a.m. before Magisterial District Justice Brian Germano.
The arrest, which took place during an undercover prostitution sting, was part of the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office’s ongoing efforts to combat commercial sexual exploitation in the Poconos. It is important to address the increasing number of sex buyers who are seeking to purchase sex online. According to a National Online Survey completed in 2017, “among active, high- frequency buyers, who account for 75% of paid sex transactions, 92% browsed for paid sex online in the past year. Nearly as many – 89% – contacted an online paid sex ad. In fact, 17% of men overall, including former sex buyers and non-buyers, have browsed for paid sex online in the past year.”
Often, purchasing sex online means sex buyers do not meet prostituted individuals in person until a specified time. This means sex buyers are unaware or disregard the fact the individual they plan to exploit could be a victim of sex trafficking. Frequently sex buyers, whether they realize or not, communicate with traffickers using online chat rooms or other forms of digital communication to set-up “dates.” The CSE Institute would like to note that Pennsylvania enforces increased penalties for those who purchase sex from trafficking victims. The Pennsylvania’s Buyer Beware Act can be used to prosecute buyers “who purchase sex with a reckless disregard as to whether the individual is a victim of human trafficking.” The Act shifts focus from punishing victims of trafficking to punishing traffickers and those who buy sex from them. The Buyer Beware Act functions to eliminate the commercial sex trade by targeting the demand for sex and holding traffickers and buyers accountable.
At the CSE Institute, we firmly support the Equality Model which advocates for the criminalization of individuals who drive the demand for commercial sex, namely sex traffickers and sex buyers, and decriminalize prostituted individuals. The CSE Institute applauds the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office for their demand-driven approach and encourages their continued efforts to fight commercial sexual exploitation in their community. We encourage law enforcement to focus their efforts on targeting traffickers and sex buyers who drive the demand for commercial sex. The CSE Institute will continue to monitor the progression of this case and will post updates when they become available.