On December 7, 2018, a Northampton County jury convicted Seth Mull, 31, of Lower Saucon Township, of thirty criminal charges after deliberating for just six hours. The verdict was reached after a weeklong trial in which jurors heard testimony about how Mull victimized several women throughout the Commonwealth. The CSE Institute first covered Mull’s arrest earlier this year.
Court records reveal that Mull was found guilty of one count of indecent assault without the consent of others (a class two misdemeanor); one count of indecent assault using threat of forcible compulsion (a class one misdemeanor); one count of indecent assault using forcible compulsion (a class one misdemeanor); one count of aggravated indecent assault using forcible compulsion (a second degree felony); three counts of strangulation (a second degree felony); two counts of terroristic threats with the intent to terrorize another (a class one misdemeanor); three counts of simple assault (a class two misdemeanor); one count of aggravated assault (a first degree felony); three counts of rape using forcible compulsion (a first degree felony); one count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse using forcible compulsion (a first degree felony); two counts of unlawful restraint causing serious bodily injury (a class one misdemeanor); two counts of false imprisonment (a class two misdemeanor); one count of intentional possession of a controlled substance (a misdemeanor); one count of use or possession of drug paraphernalia (a misdemeanor); one count of sexual assault (a second degree felony); one count of recklessly endangering another person (a class two misdemeanor); one count of kidnapping to inflict injury or terror (a first degree felony); one count of trafficking in individuals (a second degree felony); one count of criminal attempt of involuntary servitude (a first degree felony); one count of involuntary servitude by physically restraining another (a first degree felony); and one count of involuntary servitude causing serious harm (a first degree felony).
The Morning Call reported that the trial included testimony from four women who said Mull attacked them inside hotel rooms in Bethlehem and Hanover Township in the fall of 2017. Mull first connected with these women using popular dating websites and apps, including Plenty of Fish and Tinder. After connecting, he used his “charming” personality to gain the trust of his dates, luring them to the hotel rooms. Once there, he victimized the women by forcing them to take narcotics, or by raping or choking them. Mull also claimed the women as his property, presenting them with “sex slave contracts.” He then forced his victims to engage in sex acts or take part in orgies that he would film or otherwise derive profit from.
A fifth women – not among the Lehigh Valley cases – also testified at Mull’s trial stating that Mull had raped her in 2014 while both were living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She testified that she met Mull on a dating app and he lured her to an apartment where he and another man raped her. She also testified that he threatened to kill her if she tried to run away or seek help.
Judge Stephen Baratta, who presided over the trial, said Mull faces the possibility of “hundreds of years in prison,” and revoked his $1 million bail. Mull now awaits sentencing in Northampton County Prison.
The CSE Institute applauds the efforts all those involved in securing the conviction of this serial predator. We are also pleased to see Northampton County acknowledge that the actions of Mull – charming his victims into trusting him – are a form of trafficking. Despite the media’s portrayal, not all cases of trafficking involve young girls being snatched off the street and chained in basements, like in the popular film, “Taken.” While this does happen, it is most common for traffickers to employ comparingly passive patterns of “boyfriend” behavior to initially lure victims into their control. Finally, the CSE Institute wants to commend the survivors who testified against Mull for they have truly shown great strength and courage. As several women called out when Mull was handcuffed and led away by sheriff’s deputies, “Yes, it’s finally over!”
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.