Johnstown man found guilty of human trafficking

Ebensburg, Cambria County, Pa. - Wednesday, a jury found a Johnstown man guilty of human trafficking.

After a two-day trial at the Cambria County Courthouse, the jury, consisting of mostly women, found Barshay Dunbar, 36, guilty on 12 of the 14 counts against him. He was found guilty of promoting prostitution, trafficking in individuals, drug possession with intent to deliver and criminal use of a communication facility.

Prosecutors said Dunbar prostituted two women in October of 2016 at Super 8 Motel in Richland Township. They also said he used the website Backpage.com to advertise their services.

Dunbar was arrested on October 28, 2016 at the motel after employees called police. Dunbar was also charged with possession of 45 stamp bags of heroin.

In court Wednesday, a state police crime lab expert said that drugs found in a cigarette box near the motel on Oct. 28, tested positive for heroin and fentanyl. One of the alleged victims, Victim 1, said that Dunbar told Victim 2 to throw the box out of their vehicle when police responded to the motel.

She also said Dunbar provided the victims with drugs. Victim 1 said Dunbar convinced her to work for him as a prostitute because he could supply her with heroin and make sure she didn't suffer withdrawal symptoms.

Dunbar's defense attorney, Tim Burns, argued that no drugs were found on Dunbar when he was arrested.

Cell phone evidence was also discussed in court. A digital forensic specialist said that a phone registered under Dunbar's name has text messages setting up sexual transactions. The expert also found data from a text messaging app on the cell phone, linked to four email addresses: including one with Dunbar's name.

Photos of the alleged victims were found on the cell phone, showing them undressed and posing in a motel room.

The analyst also found evidence that the cell phone was used to access Backpage.com.

The defense argued that it can't be proven that Dunbar was the one who used that phone and that the email account was in fact his.

'Choice' was a main focus during the trial, by both prosecutors and the defense.

Prosecutors said Dunbar chose vulnerable women addicted to drugs to work for him as prostitutes, and in return he would give them drugs.

The defense argued that the alleged victims were not forced to do drugs or participate in sexual acts.

Prosecutors said the women were not physically forced or threatened into prostitution, however, they said Dunbar is guilty of trafficking because he controlled the women by controlling their access to drugs.

Dunbar will be sentenced on December 12. He's being held at the Cambria County Prison. 

Dunbar's attorney said they plan to appeal the guilty verdict.


Don't Miss

  • Steelers Ticket Giveaway
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Home for the Holidays
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • 2017 Big Ol' Buck Contest
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Teacher of the Month
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Download the WTAJ News App Today!

Trending Stories

Latest News

Video Center