Following Michael Shane McCreary’s convictions in 2020, McCreary filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on April 6, 2022, with the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. A writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is a petition for relief from a conviction or sentence. Honorable Judge Martin C. Carlson, United States Magistrate Judge, signed a recommendation on April 7, 2022, to dismiss the petition without prejudice. On July 25, 2022, Honorable Judge Jennifer P. Wilson dismissed the petition without prejudice to renewal once McCreary has properly exhausted his state court remedies. To dismiss without prejudice to renewal means that the plaintiff, or McCreary in this case, can re-file charges, alter the claim, or bring the case to another court. The court also found that McCreary did not make a substantial showing that his constitutional rights were denied.
On October 6, 2020, McCreary was convicted of both crimes charged: illegal delivery/sale of firearms and false reports to law enforcement authorities. McCreary was originally charged with four counts of illegal delivery/sale of firearms, unlawful contact with a minor, patronizing prostitutes, false reports to law enforcement authorities, unsworn falsification to authorities, and corruption of a minor. On the same day of his conviction, Honorable Judge Edward E. Guido of Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania sentenced McCreary to serve 18 months of probation for the illegal delivery/sale of firearms and 12 months of probation for false reports to law enforcement authorities. These sentences were served concurrently. It was noted in the court docket that the court would consider ending supervision after 12 months if McCreary “stays out of trouble.”
According to the recommendation signed by the Honorable Judge Martin C. Carlson on April 7, 2022, McCreary had filed a petition in state court under Pennsylvania’s Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) seeking to set aside this conviction and sentence, before he filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus with the District Court. The PCRA, “provides for an action by which persons convicted of crimes they did not commit and persons serving illegal sentences may obtain collateral relief.” That state court petition was denied on February 22, 2022 and McCreary has appealed this adverse ruling. In the opinion dismissing McCreary’s petition on July 25, 2022, Honorable Judge Jennifer P. Wilson noted that this appeal remains pending. The CSE Institute supports the state court’s denial of McCreary’s petition under Pennsylvania’s Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA). The CSE Institute continues to support a denial of McCreary’s petition under Pennsylvania’s Post-Conviction Relief Act on appeal.
However, the CSE Institute disagrees that McCreary’s guilty charges only involve illegal delivery/sale of firearms and false reports to law enforcement authorities. It appears that the charges of unlawful contact with a minor, patronizing prostitutes, and corruption of a minor were not prosecuted, although the East Pennsboro Township Police allegedly determined McCreary had sexually abused a child. The CSE Institute strongly believes that McCreary must be prosecuted as a sex trafficker.
In 2018, Pennsylvania enacted the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Act that made it unequivocally clear that there is “no such thing as a child prostitute.” The Safe Harbor created new safeguards for child victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, including creating immunity for certain crimes; directing the Department of Human Services to coordinate specialized services for sexually exploited children, in conjunction with county agencies; and requiring training for law enforcement on how to identify and help victims.
First passed in 2000 and reauthorized four times, the Victims Of Trafficking And Violence Protection Act of 2000, (TVPA), is the cornerstone federal human trafficking legislation. Under the TVPA, the term “severe forms of trafficking in persons” includes sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age. The exclusion of the requirement of “force, fraud, or coercion” to establish that a person under 18 is a victim of trafficking – or rather, the presumption of coercion – coincides with the principal that a child cannot legally consent to sex and makes it clear that under federal law, any child involved in a commercial sex act is a victim.
The CSE Institute commends the East Pennsboro Township Police for their investigation into McCreary’s alleged child sex trafficking crimes and the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania for denying McCreary’s petition under the PCRA. We encourage them to use the appropriate laws that the facts of this case bear out.
The CSE Institute will continue to provide updates on this matter.
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.