I was unaware that the commonwealth of Pennsylvania instituted a new law that says you can be arrested if you know a minor is being trafficked for sex and you do nothing about it. Recently, the first man to be charged with that crime in the Keystone State was 40-year-old Matthew J. Sipps of Aston.
Sipps allegedly used the services of an underage prostitute being trafficked on Backpage. The girl was a 16-year-old runaway from Rhode Island who was allegedly being trafficked by a pimp. After Sipps found out the girl was 16 he reportedly got the idea to get her out of that life. Instead of contacting police or taking her home, he took her to his home where she lived for a month while they had sex.
Though she told Sipps she was 16 and a runaway from Rhode Island, “Sipps was unfazed … and drove (the victim) to his home in Aston,” the affidavit states. The teen stayed with Sipps for about a month. During that time, they had sex several times, according to the affidavit.
Even worse is that Sipps lived with his mom and his brothers. While not illegal it sure is creepy that he supposedly kept a 16-year-old girl there. The victim claims she felt coerced into staying there, and of course the Sipps’ family did not cooperate with the investigation, according to police.
While the age of consent in Pennsylvania is 16 there is still a corruption of minors statute which applies here since the victim is under 18. Sipps was arrested after the man who trafficked the girl, Raymond Justis, was arrested and pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor. Justis was sentenced to 14 years.
First off, good on Pennsylvania for not only having this law on the books, but for enforcing it. I’ve always said that there should be harsher penalties against johns, and according to what I’ve read this one will be pretty harsh. When you make the risk greater than the ‘reward’ it will put a rather large dent in the number of people being trafficked. No more tickets and citations, bring on the felonies with real jail time instead.
UPDATE 9/8/2017: Sipps was convicted of patronizing a victim of sexual servitude, concealment of whereabouts of a child and corruption of minors. He is scheduled to be sentenced in Mid-November.