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DelCo man charged for patronizing human trafficking victim

Posted by Press Release on December 6th, 2016

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan announced 28-year-old Matthew Jeffrey Sipps of Aston is the first in Delaware County to be charged under Pennsylvania’s new human trafficking legislation for engaging in a sex act with a victim while knowing that the act was the result of that individual being a victim of human trafficking.

Matthew Jeffrey Sipps, 28, of Sweigart Lane in Aston, is charged with patronizing a victim of a sexual servitude, a felony of the second degree, concealment of the whereabouts of a child, a felony of the third degree, and corruption of minors, a misdemeanor charge. The arrest comes at the conclusion of an investigation conducted by Det. Mark Bucci of the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division Child Abuse Unit and Sgt. Michael Ruggieri of the Aston Township Police Department.

During the course of the investigation, detectives learned that the victim used HYPERLINK through www.backpage.com to seek employment as an escort. Through an online ad, she made contact with a man named using the name “Jordan” from New Jersey.

After making contact, Jordan picked up the victim in Rhode Island and drove her to a hotel in New Jersey. According to the victim, she told him that she was 16-years old and had run away from home. Jordan told the victim that they were going to have sex because she was now “working” for him. After having sex with the victim several times over the course of three days, Jordan told the victim it was time for her to work.

He took non-nude, scantily dressed photographs of the victim, which he posted as a backpage ad under the category “Philadelphia adult entertainment>Philly escorts” advertising “18-year old Italian cutie Maria on spring break looking to go wild.”

Over a two-week period, the child victim met four men for sex and was paid approximately $2,500 which was split with Jordan.

In March 2015, Matthew Sipps responded to the backpage ad and met the victim at a hotel. Sipps went to the hotel on four occasions and paid the victim for sex. At one point, Sipps told the victim that he wanted to take her away from her current environment.

She told him she was 16-years old and a runway from Rhode Island but he moved forward with his plan and took her to his home in Aston where he lived with his mother and two adult brothers.

The victim stayed with Sipps at his home for a month and they had sexual intercourse several times. Sipps told the victim to not leave, stay in Sipps room and to not socialize with his family.

For more than a week she told Sipps that she wanted to go home but he would not let her leave the house. Eventually Sipps provided the victim with a cell phone in his name and the victim contacted her mother in Rhode Island who then contacted local police about the whereabouts of her missing daughter.

In May 2015, FBI Special Agent Michael Goodhue and Bucci met with Sipps. At that time, Sipps admitted to meeting the victim at motel in Marple Shade, N.J., after calling the phone number on backpage. Sipps was arrested on Dec. 5, by police and arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Diane Holefelder who set bail at ten percent of $50,000. Assistant District Attorney Pearl Kim, Chief of Human Trafficking, will be prosecuting the case.

Through the course of a separate federal investigation, the individual known as “Jordan” was later identified as Raymond Justis. On March 30, Justis pled guilty to federal charges of sex trafficking a minor and was sentenced 14 years in federal prison following the prosecution in federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle L. Morgan.

In a press release, Whelan thanked detectives, the Child Advocacy Center and the Delaware County Women Against Rape for their assistance.

“Their hard work and collaboration led to these arrests and, more importantly, made sure this child victim received treatment and was returned home to a safe, healthy environment. Together, we in law enforcement are committed to vigorously investigating and prosecuting those who traffic and exploit children for their own selfish gain,” Whelan said.