On September 20, 2023, the Somerset County District Attorney’s Office charged Brittany Blenker, 33, with one count of trafficking in individuals, patronizing victims of human trafficking, and manufacturing, delivering and possessing drugs. Blenker is also facing misdemeanor charges of corruption of minors and recklessly endangering another person. She is currently being held in Somerset County Prison with her bail set at $100,000.
On July 1st, Pennsylvania State Police was contacted by the mother of a 17 year old boy alerting them that her son was allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with Blenker. During his interview with Somerset County Child Advocacy Center, the victim alleged Blenker provided him with marijuana and methamphetamine to entice him into having sexual relations on multiple occasions. According to the criminal complaint, both Lisa Frank, 36, and Vick Clevenger, 56, are accused of providing drugs to the victim at the request of Blenker on at least one occasion. The victim ultimately revealed that Blenker allegedly solicited him to have sex with her and an unnamed adult male in exchange for drugs.
Under Federal law, a person is guilty of trafficking if they recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, advertise, maintain, patronize, or solicit a person for a commercial sex act. To be charged with sex trafficking of a child, the prosecution must only prove that the defendants engaged in soliciting, enticing, harboring, obtaining, patronizing, or transporting a minor who is or will be subject to sexual servitude. If the victim is a minor, the Government does not need to prove the defendant knew or recklessly disregarded the victim’s age. Under both Federal and State law, any commercial sexual exploitation of minors constitutes sex trafficking because children cannot consent to being bought and sold for sex. Based on the reported facts, Blenker’s actions meetthe requisite elements to prove human trafficking by soliciting a person she thought was underage for sex in exchange for drugs.
The CSE Institute recognizes and commends the bravery shown by the victim in his willingness to come forward. In addition, the CSE Institute applauds the vigilance of both the victim’s mother and the Somerset County District Attorney’s Office in this case. Predators often connect with potential victims via social media or other platforms. Parents should monitor their children’s internet usage and report any suspicious contacts. Vigilant oversight from parents and law enforcement are important tools in ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Arresting sex buyers, who seek to exploit minors and other vulnerable populations, is a key part of reducing the demand for commercial sexual exploitation. The CSE Institute advocates for the equality model. The four pillars of the equality model are: (1) decriminalizing the person in prostitution, (2) criminalizing sex buyers, (3) educating the public about the inherent harms of prostitution, and (4) providing robust, funded exit services for people in prostitution.
This investigation along with Blenker’s, Frank’s, and Clevenger’s criminal proceedings are ongoing and the CSE Institute will continue to provide updates as these matters develop.
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 Villanova University.