Police: York prostitution sting revealed human trafficking

Liz Evans Scolforo

Northern Regional Police have filed charges against a second New Jersey man for allegedly holding a woman captive and forcing her into prostitution.

(Image courtesy of ibiza2day.com)

"The fact that this operation led to the rescue of a woman being held against her will and being trafficked for sex proves that prostitution is not a victimless crime," Northern York County Regional Police Lt. David Lash said.

Police on Wednesday obtained an arrest warrant for Kenneth J. Crowell, 32, of Glassboro, New Jersey, Lash confirmed.

Once arrested, Crowell will be charged with two counts of trafficking in individuals and one count each of involuntary servitude and conspiracy to traffic individuals — all felonies, according to charging documents. He also faces a misdemeanor count of promoting prostitution.

Investigators focused on Crowell following a prostitution detail Friday at the Motel 6 on Arsenal Road (Route 30) in Manchester Township.

Undercover officers made contact online with suspected prostitutes and set up meetings at the motel and made several arrests, police have said.

Asked for help: One woman who entered the motel room immediately told the undercover officer she was being held against her will by a man waiting outside in a car, according to charging documents. She offered to have sex with the undercover officer — who she thought was merely a customer — if he would drive her back to New Jersey, where she lives, documents state.

Police got the woman to safety and arrested the man in the car, Barry Schiff, who had been her neighbor.

"Helping someone overcome this type of situation and allowing them to take the first step in reclaiming their lives was very satisfying for all of the officers involved in the detail," Lash said.

Barry Schiff

The woman, whose name is being withheld by The York Dispatch, told officers she was incarcerated in New Jersey March 10 for failing to appear for a court hearing and three days later was inexplicably bailed out by Schiff, documents state. The woman said she doesn't know how he found out she was in prison.

The woman said Schiff took her to a home in Blackwood, New Jersey, where Schiff and Crowell were staying, and said she was forced to have sex with men there, documents state.

'Vacation': She said Schiff on Thursday told her they were going on vacation, but he instead drove her to Lancaster County and forced her to prostitute herself at motels there by threatening to have her killed, making other threats of violence and by plying her with heroin and cocaine, police said.

Schiff later told investigators that Crowell heads up their prostitution operation and "normally controls up to seven girls," documents state.

Police examined Schiff's cellphone and found text exchanges in which Crowell sent Schiff information on which hotels the woman needed to be driven to, what rooms the customers would be in, how much they would be paying and how long the encounters should last, documents allege.

Barry Schiff, 49, remains in York County Prison on $100,000 bail, charged with two counts of trafficking of individuals and one count each of promoting prostitution and involuntary servitude.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.