Barry Schiff, age 52, has been sentenced to at least 55 and a half years in prison. In late 2019, Schiff and his accomplice, Kenneth Crowell, were convicted of a litany of trafficking and related offenses in Lancaster County. In February, Crowell was sentenced to minimum of 39 years and four months.
According to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Schiff targeted especially vulnerable victims. He sexually, physically, and emotional abused marginalized women and girls. He sold his victims to countless individuals, who further dehumanized and exploited them.
In 2017, police conducted an undercover investigation where officers responded to several internet advertisements for commercial sex. Officers agreed to meet a woman from a Backpage.com advertisement at the Cork Factory Hotel in Lancaster. There, the woman told authorities that she didn’t feel safe and wanted to “get out” of her current situation. The woman disclosed that she had been recruited by Crowell and Schiff while she was working at gentleman’s club in York.
State police say that both Schiff and Crowell actively recruited young women to sell sex throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. Crowell was in charge of posting advertisements and communicating with sex buyers. Schiff used controlled substances as a means to recruit and control some of the victims. Schiff also threatened to kill victims and their families, telling one woman, “I know where your children sleep at night, and I will have my Dominicans chop you up and throw you in the river.”
Prostituted persons regularly face physical aggression and threats of violence from traffickers and those who purchase them for sex. 92% of trafficked women in one study reported being subjected to physical violence, such as being shot, strangled, burned, beaten, stabbed, or punched. Many are victims of multiple forms of violence. Respondents reported an average of 6.25 of the 12 forms of violence covered in the study. The CSE Institute hopes this case will shed a light on the violence and degradation inherit in the sex trade.
Finally, we applaud the bravery of the survivors in this case. Their willingness to speak out against their perpetrators paved the way for this prosecution. We also commend the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania State Police for working together to secure significant sentences against Schiff and Crowell.