Throughout the month of October, Detectives Kim Lippincott and Mario Orlando of the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office used Backpage.com to respond to an advertisement allegedly posted by a prostituted woman who went by the name of “Autumn Star”. The Pocono Record reports that the advertisement said she was, “the perfect package with a pretty face, curvy body, and sweet personality; playful, flirtatious, catering to gentleman only.”
Detective Orlando first arranged to meet the prostituted woman on October 5th. She allegedly told the Detective that she would charge $200 in exchange for sex with him. When the detective later met the prostituted woman outside of her home, she was taken into custody. Once apprehended, she allegedly admitted to authorities that was selling sex in order to feed her heroin addiction and pay rent, according to The Pocono Record.
A few weeks later on October 23rd, the detectives noticed a similar advertisement on Backpage.com with different contact information. Authorities responded to the new advertisement and made arrangements to buy sex for $300. The same woman from the October 5th arrest was taken into custody again, where she repeated to authorities that she was selling sex to pay her rent. The woman is being charged with promoting prostitution – loitering for the purpose of prostitution, for each of the October incidents.
The CSE Institute promotes the use of the “Nordic Model”, which only criminalizes those who purchase sex, and provides a robust set of social programs to those who wish to exit the commercial sex industry. The facts of this case are emblematic of a common narrative that involves persons with little to no resources, often addicted to drugs, becoming involved in the commercial sex industry as a means of survival. While opponents to our position claim prostitution is analogous to any other “career choice”, selling sex to keep a roof over one’s head ends up being less about “choice” and more about self-preservation.
Without social services in place to help prostituted women obtain shelter, drug rehabilitation, and occupational training, it can be difficult for those involved in commercial sexual exploitation to find other meaningful opportunities, with an arrest record only making things worse. We applaud Monroe County for working diligently to identify sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in their jurisdiction and encourage them to utilize services outside of the criminal justice system to help prostituted women heal while continuing to target the demand who drive the sex industry.
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.