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County Hall Corner: The Horror of Human Trafficking In Lycoming County!

When I was in high school back in what seems like a million years ago, I had to study a 14th-century epic poem by Dante Alighieri entitled “The Divine Comedy.” It was no comedy in my book, as it poetically described a journey through Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Heaven). Inferno is what most folks know about, as Dante’s imagination is designed around poetic justice; the worst sins get the worst punishments. He certainly scared the hell out of me with images of drowning in a boiling lake of blood or, even worse, a lake of excrement where the souls are standing on the tips of their toes to just get their noses and mouths barely above the sludge to be able to breathe — and demons on the banks using sticks to make waves in the water.

My mind went in this direction while sitting down with Anne Reiner, director and feature writer for the online news source, On the Pulse (, as she shared her research on the disgusting plague of human trafficking in our area. Anne launched ‘On the Pulse’ with a colleague, Noah Beiter, in January of 2019, designed to be an in-depth local news and cutting-edge multi-media coverage type website, especially focused on young folks such as herself.

Since then, Anne has produced some amazing stories, from feel-good articles on local history, arts, and culture to gritty stuff like juvenile crime. She even went to Tanzania in Africa to report on the work of Dr. Alex Nesbitt, medical director of The Gatehouse and Family Hospice, part of UPMC Home Healthcare of Central Pennsylvania.

But throughout the past five years of her research for On the Pulse, Anne has never lost her passion for telling the story of human trafficking in our area. She has interviewed caregivers and victims at the YWCA in Williamsport and Harrisburg, the Silent No More Foundation in Williamsport, Transitions PA in Lewisburg, and more.

What Anne discovered in her research was quite surprising. When most people hear about human trafficking, they picture girls locked in cages or Asian girls being bused from New York City, but the reality is much closer to home. Many of these children used for sexual purposes have parents who offer them money to meet their drug habits, and these can be in any neighborhood. Yes, even those in ‘nice’ neighborhoods have such things going on. Amazingly, Anne has been able to get local victims to talk about their dreadful experiences.

Yet for all this research work, it still takes money to get it out to the public, and that requires sponsors. Fortunately, Anne found sponsoring support with Lycoming College and UPMC, and especially Seven Mountains Media, owned and operated by Kristin Cantrell, which was the biggest catalyst in making it possible to get as big an audience as possible for a truly first-class documentary.

“The Hidden Truth of Human Trafficking in Pennsylvania” will be premiered at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 18th, at the Klump Academic Center Auditorium at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. This premier is free to the public.

Still need some convincing? Check out the two-minute trailer, “The Harsh Realities of Human Trafficking,” at, which introduces the documentary that will be presented at the premiere. The more we know, the more we can do about this horrible plague in our own backyard.