On March 12, 2018, the Office of the Attorney General released a statement that former Pennsylvania constable, George T. Bottomley Jr., pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution and obstructing justice. An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office disclosed that Mr. Bottomley abused his official authority by paying several women’s court costs and fines or overlooking warrants in exchange for sex. The April 19, 2017 press release announcing Bottomley’s arrest the Attorney General’s Office explained that two of the women “had sex with Bottomley because they felt obligated to do so because of Bottomley’s constable position.”
According to a March 13, 2018 report by Fox 43, Mr. Bottomley was initially investigated by the Attorney General’s Office, which ultimately led to his arrest in April of 2017. The Office of the Attorney General’s reported that Mr. Bottomley could face a fine up to $65,000 or jail time for these offenses.
According to the criminal docket, Mr. Bottomley was charged under 18 PA Cons. Stat. §3012(b)(4), which deals with involuntary servitude. This section states that an individual subjects another to involuntary servitude by abusing or threatening to abuse the legal process. He was also charged with promoting prostitution, bribery, and obstructing administration of law or other governmental function. Mr. Bottomley entered into a guilty plea stipulation, which was filed on January 1, 2018. This agreement dismissed the involuntary servitude and bribery charges, while amending the promoting prostitution charges. The charge of promoting prostitution by encouraging, inducing, or otherwise intentionally causing another to become or remain a prostitute was amended to promoting prostitution by soliciting, receiving or agreeing to receive any benefit for doing or agreeing to do anything forbidden by this subsection. Also, according to the agreement and as recorded in the docket, the remaining charges were open pleas, meaning no sentence was agreed to, and Mr. Bottomley agreed not to hold public office for 10 years.
The CSE Institute is encouraged by the use of Act 105 in the Attorney General’s initial charging decision in the Bottomley case. According to the Office of the Attorney General’s press release, one of the women that Mr. Bottomley solicited feared he would “use his power as a constable to take her away from her child.” Men abusing their positions of power to take advantage of women is an unfortunate, yet common, occurrence. Both of the recent “Time’s Up” and #MeToo movements have brought much-needed attention to the role power differentials play in instances of sexual misconduct in and out of the workplace. Power differentials also make it extremely difficult for victims to feel safe enough to report misconduct, which is why we would also like to highlight the bravery of the victims who came forward in this case. Because they spoke up, Mr. Bottomley will no longer be able to use his position as a state constable to exploit women.
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.