Over the weekend of June 4, 2022, six men were arrested and charged with solicitation of prostitution in Cumberland County, PA. The men arrested and charged are Gregory Leisey Jr., 45, Richland, PA; Sean Fitzsimmons, 49, Camp Hill, PA; Cory Bloch, 49, Dillsburg, PA; Elijah Hallday, 26, Carlisle, PA; and Travis Gelbaugh, 31, Harrisburg, PA. Each man allegedly responded to an online advertisement for a female escort, planned to meet at a hotel, and then offered to pay for sex.
The six men were arrested in conjunction with a new Human Trafficking enforcement initiative, which was announced on June 8, 2022 by Cumberland County District Attorney Seán McCormack. This new human trafficking enforcement initiative in Cumberland County aims to identify and arrest individuals attempting to solicit sex for money.
This arrest, codenamed operation “Impact Demand,” was part of a joint effort between members of the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation division team, Upper Allen Township Police, and members of the Cumberland County Sherriff’s Office.
When announcing the arrest, District Attorney McCormack stated, “Operation Impact Demand was designed to attack the human trafficking problem by focusing on the demand, that is the customer side, of the equation. This was the first, but certainly not the last, operation of this type we plan on conducting here in Cumberland County.”
The CSE Institute commends the efforts of the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office, District Attorney McCormack, the Upper Allen Township Police, and the Cumberland County Sherriff’s Office for their work in investigating and charging the six men. By targeting the demand of sex buyers, law enforcement officials are also targeting the root cause of sexual exploitation.
The CSE Institute stands with survivors and advocates for the adoption of the Equality Model in the United States, as commercial sexual exploitation is most effectively stopped by putting an end to demand. The Equality Model consists of four key elements: (1) decriminalization of the prostituted person, (2) criminalization of sex buyers and facilitators with a commitment to treating buying sex as a serious crime, (3) a public education campaign about the inherent harms of prostitution, and (4) funded, robust, holistic exit services for victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The Equality Model directly targets the demand for buying sex by criminalizing sex buyers and traffickers, while decriminalizing the people who are being bought and sold for commercial sex. The decriminalization of people in prostitution recognizes those who are bought and sold for sex as exploited, not as perpetrators of a crime.
We will provide updates on this matter as it proceeds.
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.