Men in positions of power are one of the most common buyers of sex throughout the world. Recently, two high-ranking government officials were charged with solicitation. While this narrative is sadly commonplace, the concern of “average” citizens that lead to these charges is a breath of fresh air.
On April 6, multiple law enforcement sources confirmed that a secret service agent on Vice President Mike Pence’s detail had been suspended from his official duties following a meeting with a prostituted person at a Maryland hotel. Law enforcement told NBC Washington that the agent is Quincy Torregano of Germantown, Maryland. A week prior, local police responded to a call from the hotel’s manager reporting concerns over suspicious activity in one of the rooms. After police conducted surveillance of the hotel, they arrested Torregano. According to court records obtained by NBC Washington, the agent had responded to a backpage.com classified ad, but claimed he decided to forgo sex with the prostituted person because she looked too ‘nasty’ Torregano has since been charged with solicitation, while the 22-year old woman he allegedly refused to buy sex from faces three counts of prostitution.
A spokesperson speaking on the record for the Secret Service claimed the agent was off-duty at the time of the arrest, and confirmed that Torregano had been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation. According to the spokesperson, the employee’s security clearance and access to all Secret Service facilities have also been suspended.
This comes on the heels of Oklahoma Republican State Senator and Trump campaign chair Ralph Shortey being arrested and charged with engaging in child prostitution, engaging in prostitution within 1000 feet of a church, and transporting a minor for prostitution on March 9th. According to media reports, Shortey was found with a 17-year-old boy after a tip from the teen’s father led authorities to a Cleveland County Super 8 Motel. The police smelled marijuana emanating from the motel room, where inside they found the teenager and Shortey along with an open box of condoms and lotion. Police later uncovered a host of graphic text messages exchanged between the two where Shortey allegedly offered the teen money in exchange for sex. Shortey has since stepped down from his position in the Oklahoma Senate, yet according to Fox News will still have the ability to vote and continue to receive his annual senate salary.
It has yet to be confirmed whether these men took advantage of their prominent government positions while engaged in commercial sex buying. However, men in positions of power remain a primary source of demand in commercial sexual exploitation. As commercial sexual exploitation continues to reach all corners of the socio-economic and political landscape, high profile cases such as these enable the public to put faces to sex buyers in the United States and around the world. The CSE Institute applauds the members of law enforcement and concerned citizens, especially the hotel employees, whose awareness of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation led to both of these arrests. However, we discourage Montgomery County, Maryland from pursuing charges against the prostituted woman arrested along-side Pence’s Secret Service Agent. The CSE Institutes advocates that providing prostituted persons with proper resources and an exit strategy is a more effective means to combat commercial sexual exploitation as opposed to the levying of criminal sanctions.
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.