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Delaware County charges under new PA human trafficking law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE:  September 22, 2014

CONTACT PERSON: Emily H. Harris, 610.891.4163

Media, Pa – Today Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan announced that Delaware County filed charges for the first time under Pennsylvania’s new legislation to combat human trafficking, which took effect Tuesday, September 2.

Renell C. Quire, 21, of Upper Darby was arrested by Pennsylvania State Police, Skippack Station Criminal Investigations Unit on September 5 for transporting, harboring and having sexual relations with two minors. He is the first to be charged with trafficking of individuals under the new Pennsylvania state law, Act 105 of 2014, sponsored by State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf.

The defendant, Quire, met the 15-year-old victim on a friendship/dating website known as meetmenow.com, and maintained communication through text messages and phone calls. On September 3, Quire and male friend known as “John” drove to the New Life Youth Center, located in Salford Township, Montgomery County, and provided a ride to the 15-year-old female and her 16-year-old female friend, transporting them to Quire’s mother’s home in Upper Darby.

Once inside the residence, Quire told the 15-year-old to go have sex with his friend John while he had sex with her 16-year-old friend, and that they would switch afterwards. One of the victims told authorities she did not like that Quire told her to have sex with him and his friend, but she complied because he threatened to kick them out. The men were later identified by members of the Pennsylvania State Police Skippack Station Criminal Investigations Unit.

Quire is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors, trafficking of individuals, all felonies of the first degree, and statutory sexual assault, a felony of the second degree, and indecent assault.

“In the past, the law would not have recognized these individuals as human traffickers,” said Senator Greenleaf.  “Until only a few weeks ago, prosecutors would not have been able to bring human trafficking charges to these individuals for their crimes of sexual exploitation.  I would like to thank the Delaware County District Attorney’s office for not only working with me to pass this critical legislation, but for using the new law to aggressively fight human trafficking in our region.”

Act 105 was written to address weaknesses in the state’s previous human trafficking statute that often allowed traffickers to be charged with lesser crimes.  The outdated statutory definition of human trafficking did not include sexual servitude.  Act 105 also increases criminal penalties for those convicted of human trafficking.

District Attorney Jack Whelan praised Senator Greenleaf for his leadership in sponsoring the legislation, and commended the efforts of the investigators who worked on the case.  “Act 105 provides prosecutors with a more accurate definition of human trafficking, which in turn will lead to more arrests and more successful convictions,” said Whelan.

“I would like to commend Pennsylvania State Police Trooper John Becker, and also Upper Darby Police who assisted with the investigation, as well as Assistant District Attorney and Chief of Human Trafficking, Pearl Kim who will be prosecuting the case,” said District Attorney Whelan. “Their hard work and collaboration led to the arrest announced today and, more importantly, revealed two minor victims who are now off the streets and in a safe, healthy environment. We are grateful for our strong partnership with Delaware County Women Against Rape (DCWAR) who provided support to the victims in this case.  The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office is committed to vigorously investigating and prosecuting those who traffic in and exploit other persons for their own selfish gain.”

Act 105 will:

• Re-define human trafficking to help prosecutors convict more traffickers.

• Increase fines and penalties for the crime of human trafficking.

• Helps law enforcement identify victims of trafficking.

• Protect victims’ identity during prosecution.

 

The Pennsylvania Anti-Human Trafficking Advocacy Work Group, an initiative of community-based anti-trafficking coalitions, task forces, networks, and state and national partners, advocated tirelessly to help get this law passed, and is very encouraged to learn that Act 105 is already being utilized effectively by those enforcing our laws in the fight against human trafficking within our state.

Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world generating over $32 billion annually.  It is estimated that over 20 million people are currently being trafficked world-wide.  In the US, it is estimated that over 100,000 children are in the sex trade.  The total number of men, women, and children being trafficked in U.S. could reach into the hundreds of thousands.

In Pennsylvania, human trafficking is taking place in both urban and suburban communities, and victims are commonly transported along the state’s interstate highway system.

Renell C. Quire was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Harry J. Karapalides who set bail at 10 percent of $250,000 which he did not post. The preliminary hearing is scheduled on October 6.