Erick D. Metzger (53), Patrick J. Taylor (34), and Frank A. Nork (47) were arrested on October 25, 2020, by police in central Pennsylvania following a sting operation to address child prostitution. All three men were indicted by a federal grand jury in the Middle District of Pennsylvania on October 28, 2021 and have been charged with 18 U.S.C. § 2422, Attempted Enticement of a Minor. United States Attorney George Rocktashel of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Williamsport, PA, will be prosecuting all three cases. The arrests are a product of Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice initiative that leverages federal, state, and local law enforcement resources to prevent child sexual exploitation and locate victims.
Attempting to entice a minor to engage in a commercial sex act is also punishable under the federal sex trafficking of children crime under 18 U.S.C. § 1591. Even though enticement and trafficking cover the same activities, the trafficking crime does not require the government to prove that the accused individual knew the minor was under 18 years of age, while providing for steeper sanctions if force, fraud, or coercion were used while enticing the minor into commercial sexual exploitation. The practical effect of this distinction is that the enticement crime is more lenient, and harder to prosecute, than the sex trafficking crime.
While the CSE Institute commends the agents and officers who are working to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Pennsylvania, we question the wisdom of charging an offense that is both more lenient and harder to prove and encourage prosecutors to use all relevant statutes that fit the alleged criminal activity. If federal prosecutors are committed to ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children, they should use the most effective tools at their disposal by charging sex trafficking of children in addition to enticement of a minor.