Information gleaned from an April 2017 incident where a man buying sex from a woman was allegedly robbed has launched a multi-agency investigation into sex trafficking throughout the state. The Reading Eagle reports that an 18-year-old man from Reading named Nathaniel E.R. Pagan has been indicted by a federal grand jury for charges of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion stemming from these investigations. The grand jury was provided with evidence and witness testimony by a U.S. Homeland Security agent and U.S. Attorney’s office before deciding to indict Pagan on March 23. Pagen was then transferred to a federal detention center in Allentown from the prison in Berks County where he was being held in on charges of promoting prostitution and possession with intent to sell synthetic marijuana. Detective Brock of Berks County told The Reading Eagle that those local charges were dropped as soon as federal authorities took on the case after they learned of more alleged victims following the arrest.
“The more we started dissecting it, doing research and working with Homeland Security, the more it started to look like a case that needed the full resources of the federal government,” explained Detective Brock. The detective also told The Reading Eagle that his agency is beginning to become more proactive in trying to help women out of “the life” of prostitution and has begun to conduct stings targeting advertisements on escort websites. Once arrested, the detective hopes the women may share information regarding their abuse.
While we are thrilled Detective Brock and his police force are beginning to view commercial sexual exploitation from a more victim-centered perspective, we implore authorities to focus more on the demand for buying sex, rather than utilizing their resources primarily to arrest prostituted persons. Even though the intention to make these arrests may be a part of the ultimate goal to help victims of commercial sexual exploitation, the record of these arrests can severely inhibit the ability prostituted persons have to obtain jobs, housing, and social services that could prevent them from returning to commercial sex as a means of survival.
The CSE Institute is committed to supporting victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and facilitating their access to restorative remedies. On June 28, 2017, we are co-hosting a Continuing Legal Education event with Drinker Biddle & Reath featuring speakers from Duane Morris and The Salvation Army. The event will educate local attorneys and other supportive service providers about forms of post-conviction relief that are uniquely available to trafficking victims. For more information or to register, click here.
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 of Villanova University.