On Tuesday, October 11, 2016, Brian Kieffer, a 33 year-old Lansdale man, pled guilty to trafficking a minor, promoting prostitution of a minor, and corruption of a minor. Common Pleas Court Judge Gail Weilheimer declared Kieffer’s behavior “inexcusable,” and sentenced him to five to ten years in state prison, to be followed by eight years of probation upon his release.
Kieffer’s conviction for human trafficking is the first for Montgomery County. Under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. 3011(b), Kieffer was convicted for engaging in activities that would lead a minor to be “subject to involuntary servitude,” and for “knowingly benefit[ting] financially or reciev[ing] anything of value from any act that facilitates” a minor “being subjected to sexual servitude.” The survivor of Kieffer’s victimization, who is now sixteen, read a victim impact statement describing how Kieffer manipulated her, fostered her dependence on illicit substances, and seriously damaged her self-esteem. She stated, “He caused me to feel this way. I was dead inside as I was simply living to please him and my addiction.”
Kieffer was charged in February 2016 with over forty felony charges, all directly related to his exploitation of the then-fifteen year-old girl. In August 2015, Kieffer, then thirty-two, used social media to recruit and lure the victim and then began a sexual relationship with her. Because she believed they were dating, the victim was susceptible to Keiffer’s manipulative tactics, which included pretending to love her and facilitating her access to controlled substances, particularly heroin and cocaine. Furthermore, Kieffer sold her for sex by advertising her for sale on Backpage.com. Kieffer also transported the victim to hotel rooms for meetings arranged through those advertisements. He used heroin and cocaine to control her and keep her compliant. In October 2015, without her parents’ permission or knowledge, Kieffer took the victim to Florida with him, where he was arrested and extradited back to Pennsylvania.
In a statement made to the CSE Institute, Assistant District Attorney Lindsay O’Brien indicated that she focused on the charges of human trafficking, promoting prostitution, and corrupting a minor for several reasons, most importantly to “show that trafficking is a serious crime that warrants significant time in state prison.” Furthermore, ADA O’Brien wanted to ensure that Kieffer would remain under court supervision for “many years” and be required to register as a sex offender under Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §9799. Under this statute, Kieffer will be required to register his name, address, and other personal information with the Pennsylvania State Police, who will then publish the information on a publicly-accessible website.
ADA O’Brien further explained that when forming her case strategy, it was important for her to consider the effect that a trial might have on the young survivor. The most successful prosecutions employ a victim-centered strategy. It is imperative that prosecutors in human trafficking cases be mindful of the victims’ experiences and the potential for re-victimization, and never compel victim involvement. ADA O’Brien sought to resolve the case “in a way that would allow the victim [to] be able to move on with her life, knowing that the defendant would face significant prison time as well as supervision for many years.”
The CSE Institute commends the work of ADA O’Brien, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, and Judge Weilheimer for their recognition of the needs of the victim and for this successful conviction under Pennsylvania’s Human Trafficking statute. We are further inspired by the valor and strength of the survivor in this case, for bravely coming forward and speaking out against her trafficker. Only through listening to the voices of survivors and accounting for their input in trial, can prosecutors and judges help bring justice to victims and make our Commonwealth a safer place.