On July 19, 2018, the Lancaster City Police Department conducted an undercover investigation targeting those who buy sex. An undercover police officer posed as a prostituted person in order to catch buyers agreeing to engage in sexual relations in exchange for money. Ten men were arrested as a result of the investigation.
All those arrested were charged with patronizing prostitutes and criminal solicitation: Oliver Nze, 53, of Lancaster; Ernest Daniels, 26, of Lancaster; Larry Hammer, 75, of Manheim; Pedro Guerrero-Contreras, 44, of Lancaster; Jean Alvarado-Rosado, 28, of Lebanon; Ronel Villanueva-Mejias, 48, of Lancaster; James Brown, 60, of Lancaster; Ronald McBeth, 33, of Harrisburg; Genol Torres, 31, of Columbia; and Glen Steele, 53, of Lancaster.
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the first time an accused is charged with the crime of patronizing prostitutes it is graded as a third degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Subsequent offenses are punishable by a maximum of five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Criminal solicitation is of the same grading and degree as the crime which is solicited. Therefore, in this particular case, the punishment for criminal solicitation is the same punishment as that of patronizing prostitutes – one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 or five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
The CSE Institute commends the Lancaster City Police Department for targeting those who fuel the commercial sex industry – buyers of sex. As advocates of the Nordic Model, we support criminalizing and targeting those who purchase sex rather than those being exploited. The CSE Institute is hopeful that other departments and agencies throughout the Commonwealth will follow the Lancaster City Police Department’s lead and mirror the Nordic Model. We believe that if they do, local authorities will take meaningful steps towards eliminating sexual exploitation in their jurisdictions once and for all.
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.