Two men and one woman were arrested on February 11, 2019, for prostitution related charges at the Mount Pocono Hotel in Monroe County, according to a report from The Pocono Record. The two men, Oakey Smith, 67, and John Novellino, 49, were arraigned last week on charges of promoting prostitution following an undercover investigation at a hotel. One woman was also arrested and charged with loitering for the purpose of promoting prostitution. Several local law enforcement agencies worked in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Monroe County’s District Attorney’s Office to conduct the operation.
According to The Pocono Record, in order to effectuate the arrests, authorities posted advertisements online showing pictures of a nude woman along with a phone number. This phone number was used by an undercover officer posing as the woman in the advertisement.
An individual, later identified, as Novellino allegedly contacted the officer on the number provided in the advertisement. He purportedly communicated that he intended to purchase sexual services from her for $75, and that he would meet her at the hotel that afternoon. He later allegedly called the number upon arriving at the hotel, and the officer instructed him to meet her in a specific hotel room. After Novellino allegedly gave the officer $80 in exchange for her services, she signaled to law enforcement personnel and he was arrested.
Shortly after Novellino arrived at the hotel, a male officer responded to an advertisement posted online by a woman allegedly offering sexual services. After arriving at the hotel, the officer instructed her to meet him in a specified hotel room. She is alleged to have accepted $500 from the officer and, after asking him how he would like to proceed, she was arrested.
Later that same evening another man, later identified as Smith, allegedly responded to an advertisement posted by the officers. Like Novellino, the individual called the number and purportedly communicated to the officer that he would meet her at the hotel and that he would pay her $120 for her services. He arrived at the hotel room and after pulling out $80 and beginning to disrobe, he was arrested.
The CSE Institute commends Monroe County’s efforts in securing the arrests of the sex buyers during this investigation. We also applaud Monroe County’s ongoing efforts at reducing the demand for commercial sex. However, the CSE Institute continues to advocate for the Nordic Model, which punishes those responsible for buying sex rather than punishing sexually exploited women. Relatedly, we suggest that the media refrain from mentioning the names and publishing photos of sexually exploited individuals. Prostituted persons are victims of sexual violence. As such, the CSE Institute encourages the media to be more conscientious in their reporting both with the methods they use and the language they choose to write with.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or Villanova University.