How The Cops CREATE Sex Offenders

Readers — This report by Noah Pransky, my new Journalism Hero, is so well done and so shocking, I hope that it gets reposted throughout the blogosphere:

(I have removed the video because it automatically starts playing anytime you go to my blog.)

It details how men who go online to adult chat rooms and begin chats with people who say they are of legal age, then get entrapped as “sex offenders,” when the date bait “reveals” that she is actually underage. (I think that the date bait is, ironically, actually OF legal age, PRETENDING to be under age, “to catch a predator.”) The whole operation is so convoluted, creepy and calculated that it doesn’t seem to bear any relation to the stated intent of these stings, which is to protect the children who accidentally wander into these chat rooms and have no idea what they are stumbling into.

The “kids wandering into adult chat rooms and accidentally having sexual conversations with grownups” seems like it would be  a very tiny group of people — if any. That’s a point this TV report addresses. After painstakingly crunching the numbers, it also reveals that the majority of men talking to these “teen girls” are young men themselves, who are naturally going to be interested in a partner they think is about their same age. Watch the piece and then try to remember some of the details when people tell you: “I can’t let my children play outside. There are PREDATORS in the area.”

Who are the real predators in this story? – L.

P.S. Here is a note I got from a mom earlier this week:

My son is currently facing charges for Internet luring he went into an adult  website where the age was to be 18  he started talking back and forth with a profile seating she was 20 after a few texts back and forth he felt there was a connection and began  conversations with her then at some point she stated that she was only about to turn 15 yes he should have stopped communication  then, but a few more texts went and the charges came.  He was not in any kind of chat room for kids gaming rooms or anything just trying to meet someone his own age which turned out to be a cop in and adult place.

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80 Responses to How The Cops CREATE Sex Offenders

  1. Wait? August 14, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    I thought creating a crime was called ‘entrapment’?

  2. anonymous mom August 14, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    These stings ALWAYS take place in places where adults go to meet other adults to talk about sex. Always.

    Regardless of the fact that these young men should have stopped talking when they realized the person was underage, they are NOT predators. A person seeking to prey on teens would NOT be frequenting a place for people 18+. There is a significant difference between actively seeking out a teen for sex and being too stupid and horny to say no when, in the quest to find an ADULT to talk about sex with, you encounter a willing, eager teen in the same setting.

    I’m not saying that in some cases some charges might not be warranted, but certainly these are not public dangers who belong on a public registry.

    The example I’ve used before is of the difference between a drug dealer who hangs out at a middle school, trying to entice the students there to buy drugs, and a drug dealer who is hanging out on some seedy street corner where everybody knows you go to buy drugs and has a teen approach them about buying. Yes, the drug dealer shouldn’t be selling drugs, but the first dealer is preying on minors in the way the second isn’t. They should be treated differently.

    The reality is that if a post-pubescent teen makes the decision to seek out sex with young adults, in settings where adults go to meet other adults for sex, they are not “victims.” The adult in the situation should be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which is what they are doing. They should not be charged with felony sex crimes that land them on registries for decades or life and in some cases results in prison time.

  3. anonymous mom August 14, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    Wait?,

    The bar for entrapment in the U.S.–unlike in other countries–is exceptionally high, and it’s almost always impossible to get something thrown out for that. However, I am aware of a couple of these internet sex sting cases that have been thrown out for entrapment, which is saying a lot.

    A big part of the reason why we’re the only country where law enforcement runs these sorts of stings is because we have much laxer laws about what constitutes entrapment than nearly any other country. IIRC, such stings have been condemned by many European governments as human rights abuses.

  4. anonymous mom August 14, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    Oh, and follow the money: these stings began to occur after Homeland Security began to offer huge grants for police departments combatting “cybercrime.” Of course, local police departments don’t have the resources or skills to catch cyber terrorists, so they take the money and, to make the arrests they need to justify continued funding, set up these sorts of stings, which are guaranteed to generate huge numbers of arrests. In some cases, they’ll arrest several dozen men in a single weekend. These stings are the most low-hanging fruit possible, and you will find Homeland Security funds involved in nearly all cases.

  5. Donna August 14, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    Often the men don’t actually believe that they are talking to a teenage girl. After all, the “girl” is in an adult chat room – a room that you have to have a profile indicating that you are over 18 to enter. The pictures exchanged are of an ADULT. A young-looking adult, but an adult nonetheless.

    Many people use chat rooms as fantasy land. They are making an alter-ego and expect that everyone else is as well. When out county had one of these stings going, a large number of our clients told us convincingly that they never believed that they were talking to a teenage girl. They thought it was an role playing adult all along. And they were right!!!

  6. Donna August 14, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    Wait? –

    Entrapment is virtually non-existent in the US. To prove entrapment, you have to show that you had absolutely no predisposition to commit this crime whatsoever. Since you did actually commit the crime, courts almost always decide that you did have a predisposition to commit this crime or you wouldn’t have done it no matter what the police did.

    I do think that we would win trials much more often with entrapment defenses in situations like this if we could actually get the entrapment instruction read to the jury, but we rarely can. The judge almost always refuses to give the instruction and it is always upheld on appeal.

  7. Athanasios August 14, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    Grady Judd is an attention hound. I lived in that area and I learned that the most dangerous place was between Sheriff Judd and a camera. He is playing to the voters and making a name for himself as being tough on crime.

  8. Lex August 14, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    What a tangled web we weave.

    Can’t the men argue that, although the interlocuter stated at one point that “she” was “underage,” they had strong reason to believe this to be fantasy role-playing on the part of a middle-aged policeman, and that they were in fact and in belief consensually involved in sexual fantasy play with a middle-aged policeman?

    The real questions are how come the cops get off scot-free for sexual activity during office hours, and is this practice attracting perverts and sex offenders to become members of the police force, because they know they get a free pass?

  9. BL August 14, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    Pursuing real criminals can be dangerous.

    How much safer and easier to manufacture them in computer games.

  10. lollipoplover August 14, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    And don’t forget the other created *sex offenders*- those that publically urinate.

    We live on a golf course. There is a crazy lady who backs up to the woods on the course and has a security camera that takes pictures. She sends pictures to the police of those who relieve themselves in *her* woods (I think they actually belong to the golf course).

    The police take the pictures and charge the golfers and give them an option: pay a very hefty fine or risk being put on the sex offender registry for public exposure. Given the amount of money it would cost to fight charges, most pay the fine. It’s very profitable. And sick.

  11. Powers August 14, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    This is a fairly balanced piece, especially for local news.

    But it’s important to remember that not all sting operations work like the examples they showed. A properly-conducted sting will involve the “minor” stating immediately that he or she is underage, not changing ages partway through. The stinger also has to be sure not to initiate contact; it’s allowing the adult to make the contact that removes the possibility of entrapment charges.

    Part of the problem is that the whole underage-kids-in-chatrooms thing was a bigger deal 10-15 years ago. Teens absolutely were going into those chatrooms and soliciting sex from adults who should know better. I don’t know that it’s happening at the same rate now, which could be why properly-conducted stings are getting fewer results.

  12. Warren August 14, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    First I have to ask. Why the heck do you have politicians as law enforcement? I have never understood having an election to pick a Sheriff.

    And this video is proof why it shouldn’t be that way. This Sheriff is a goof. He reminds me of all the inept sheriffs from movies like Smokey and the Bandit.

    Stings like these are not about the law. They are about election votes and federal monies.

  13. Dirk August 14, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    Sorry, but once the person they were chatting with says they are much younger than they first stated (going from 26 to 13) the adult men should have known better. I have no sympathy for them. Once the knew age is introduced they should at least change their demeanor and treat them according to their age and certainly should not meet up with them! What idiots. I ask you, would you get stumped by this? If you were on a website adult or otherwise, flirting and talking about sex with someone who at first told you they were 26 but then sometime later told you that they were 13 would you then keep talking to them in a sexual tone and offer to meet them? No, you wouldn’t. These guys are either perverts or stupid or both.

  14. Sloan44 August 14, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    I was shocked when I saw this and have posted this topic in many areas when Noah Pransky released the article. Florida is one of the leading states when in comes to harsh registrant laws and Sheriff Judd makes it even worse. This is entrapment, no doubt. In fact the leader of the Florida ACLU has now gotten involved and, hopefully, more will be exposed.
    http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/investigations/2014/08/12/aclu-leader-wants-federal-review-of-judd-sex-stings/13914073/

  15. Dirk August 14, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    According to the actual article from the news source above…

    “Most of the 132 men were arrested for coming to a decoy house to meet what they thought was an underage teen.”

    http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/investigations/2014/08/05/grady-judd-polk-county-sex-offender-mugshots/13627259/

    “However, detectives made mistakes in some of the stings, and local judges have been increasingly critical of their tactics in tricking men into coming.” As a result some charges are dropped. The system works.

  16. Warren August 14, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    Dirk,
    Well it seems some judges seem to think otherwise.

  17. Dirk August 14, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    @ W. That is why I said…

    “However, detectives made mistakes in some of the stings, and local judges have been increasingly critical of their tactics in tricking men into coming.” As a result some charges are dropped. The system works.

  18. Sloan44 August 14, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Many of these men that DID END the conversation/call are still being investigated and called “Perverts” by Sheriff Judd! All law enforcement swears to uphold the law,not break the law. And that is what Polk county is doing in order to continue receiving federal funds.

  19. Donna August 14, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    “The stinger also has to be sure not to initiate contact; it’s allowing the adult to make the contact that removes the possibility of entrapment charges.”

    In EVERY case we had, the man did initiate the contact after the “girl” made some introducing comment to the whole room, however the first sexual comments came from the “girl.” In EVERY case. The guys chatted to “her” about mundane crap, and “she” would respond with sexual comments. Often she had to do this several times before the guy engaged her in the discussion.

  20. Warren August 14, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    Dirk,
    My comment was in response to your first comment. Not all of us rapid fire multiple comments, like you.

  21. Wait? August 14, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    Oh, that makes sense – I’m British

  22. Wendy W August 14, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    @Warren- Sheriffs are directly elected as a method of separation of powers. They are answerable to no-one other than the public. They are not under the authority of the state police or a mayor, or even the county commissioner. Yes, this can lead to abuses, as any position of authority can, but it also is a way to protect our rights. This was seen in action recently when CO passed excessive gun rights laws and the majority of sheriffs refused to enforce those laws.

  23. Sloan44 August 14, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    Yes Warren,Sheriff Judd is a goof as you mentioned. More of a cross between the ones on Smokey and the bandit and sheriff J.W Pepper on James Bond Live or let die. Sadly,we have others of the same nature here in Florida but for now Judd is getting the heat and I hope this gets in his way (Hes running for reelection 2016) He has been sheriff since 2005 and this is, as you mentioned, all for votes. I praise 10 news for revealing this scandal (Something rare to be exposed) and hope it travels to news teams from east coast to west since I know there are others of the same nature just waiting for a Good journalist like Noah Pransky to investigate.

  24. Robert Monroe, Jr. August 14, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Years ago, I worked in a count

  25. Robert Monroe, Jr. August 14, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    Some years ago I worked as an Intake Coordinator in a county mental health clinic. When a group for male sex offenders was created I was aked to co-facilitate it. During one session, one of the men there told us why he was listed as a sex offender. He was 32 years old and, being very shy around women, was still a virgin. He went onto a chat site hoping to find a girlfriend. He began talking with one woman who said that she was an 18 year old student at the local college. After a few talks, she invited him to her home. When he got there, just to talk…he didn’t want to rush into a sexual situation…the girl began putting the moves on him. He felt uncomfortable and left. Some time later the police come to his job and arrest him. It turned out that the girl was actually 16 years old and, when her mother found evidence of her chats with the 32 year old man, called the police. The man was so embarassed that he plead guilty to the charges. The other men in the group, who were sex offenders, were outraged because this man was clearly a victim of a 16 year old girl. The woman who I co-facilitated the group with saw him as a predator and refused to see the situation for what it was…a naive man conned by a 16 year old girl and a mother who turned to the law because she was unable to control her daughter’s behavior.

  26. John August 14, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    This is nothing short of a witch hunt. During the Salem witch trials some 320 years ago, if a person accused another person of being a witch and then supposedly dreamed of that person’s witch biting, pinching and choking them, that would be enough evidence to prosecute the accused for “witchcraft” and then ultimately hang them. Yes, the good’ole dark ages.

    This is exactly what we’re resorting to with these underage sex stings.

    When it comes to children, it seems as if American society has not advanced beyond that era of our distant past.

  27. Bill K August 14, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    When police forces and criminal prosecutors are incentivized to arrest people and throw them in jail, they’re going to pick on the low-hanging fruit to boost their numbers. We’ll have to take a giant step back to how things were before the drug war, where police forces are funded adequately from taxes, and prosecutors and judges are no longer answerable to a crime-fearing electorate.

  28. John August 14, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    @Robert Monroe, Jr…You say “the girl began putting the moves on him. He felt uncomfortable and left.”

    So I assume the guy refused to have sex with the girl despite of her attempting to seduce him? So with that being the case, on what grounds did authorities have to charge him with a sex crime? It’s his word vs. the girl’s and her mom’s. Nobody else witnessed it and if they indeed did not have sex, subsequent medical tests of the girl should have confirmed that. Sounds like the guy was presumed guilty and the onus was on him to prove his innocense. That’s not how the justice system should work here in the U.S.

    These child psychologists just piss me off when they spew out this nonsense that ANY kid under the age of 18 who has a sexual encounter with somebody 18 or > is automatically a “victim” of a savage sexual assault! In many situations, that is clearly not the case. Unfortunately Judges will always base their decisions on the testimony of Child Psychologists. Grrrrrr!

  29. Jill August 14, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    This whole “kids wandering into adult chatrooms” fear goes back to the early days of the internet when a child could be doing a report for school on “love” or “slavery” or something, type those words into a search engine, and find adult websites.

    It’s 2014 and internet search capabilities are better, we have pop-up blockers & parents can also install extra safeguarding systems on their computer. So, really, how many kids are ACTUALLY landing on sites with adult content? Meanwhile, otherwise innocent men are having to spend money and time and damage to their reputations to defend themselves for a crime that they never actually committed.

  30. Warren August 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Jill,
    The teenagers that end up on the adult sites……are not there by accident. They go there for the thrill and because they are not supposed to. They most certainly do not end up there by accident.

    And once they go there, underage or not…….they are not victims anymore.

  31. BL August 14, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    @lollipoplover
    “The police take the pictures and charge the golfers and give them an option: pay a very hefty fine or risk being put on the sex offender registry for public exposure.”

    I haven’t played golf since I was a kid, but then I played with my father and friends quite often, and we often relieved ourselves in the woods along the fairways.

    I’ve heard that the golf course we played on now has a porta-potty on nearly every hole.

  32. Donna August 14, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    “It’s his word vs. the girl’s and her mom’s.”

    It sounds like there was also a chat history. We don’t know what he said during those chats. Could have been sexual.

    But, further, direct testimony is evidence. It is a credibility issue. Jury could believe girl. Jury could believe guy. 50/50 shot either way.

    “subsequent medical tests of the girl should have confirmed that.”

    There are no tests that prove that a woman didn’t have sex. You may be able to prove that sex occurred with the presence of semen, but the absence of such doesn’t prove that no sex occurred.

  33. Glen August 14, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    These days money is tight for police departments. It seems local police departments could be using their resources for something more productive.

    The problem is nobody, except the court, is willing to say anything about it because it falls under the banner of “We must protect the children at all costs!”

    Courts are a check on law enforcement and the legislative process created to allow this.

  34. lollipoplover August 14, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    @BL-
    This course does have porta-pottys on a few of the holes but has areas where it is very heavily wooded- no real risk of exposing privates to anyone but groundhogs and squirrels.
    I first heard about this photo sting from a senior citizen who was *busted* for using these woods and paid almost a $1000 in fines to drop the charges. He was veteran and rotary member who is well regarded in the community. He won’t ever golf here again, he was so pissed, pardon the pun.

    Fighting crime is one thing. Threatening sex offender charges against good citizens with small bladders is something entirely different.

  35. Joel Dockery August 14, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    If someone says she is of age but then lies to you and claims she is 15, then you obviously thought that she was underage because, you know, you should automatically believe the last thing a female said. I don’t understand why this is so hard for everyone to follow…

  36. John August 14, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    @Donna…..yes, but don’t you have to have compelling evidence in order to convict a person of a crime? As far as the chats are concerned, if the guy texted to the girl, “We’ll have great sex when we get together” I guess that’s worth looking into but it doesn’t mean that he didn’t get cold feet at the last minute. But I’m not sure about it being a 50/50 thing because they always seem to believe the “child” anytime they say an adult did something sexual to them. I guess we need to hear the other side of this argument.

  37. Amanda Matthews August 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    “Many people use chat rooms as fantasy land. They are making an alter-ego and expect that everyone else is as well. When out county had one of these stings going, a large number of our clients told us convincingly that they never believed that they were talking to a teenage girl. They thought it was an role playing adult all along. And they were right!!!”

    This is why many sites and online games ban this type of roleplaying now. Well, that and the whole “someone who even THINKS about having sex with teenagers is an evil pedophile rapist” bull.

    It’s ridiculous.

    Even if a person is a teenager who accidently gets into an adult chat room, there are many opportunities to stop. Realize they are in an adult chat room, and leave. Someone over 18 starts messaging them, block them, sign off the computer, etc. Someone over 18 wants to meet up – say no. Don’t go.

    In those RARE cases where a teen is meeting someone over 18 for sex, the teen – a sexualy mature person – is CHOOSING to keep going. I’ve been online for about 25 years, and that has always been the case.

    Now if the teen at any point says no or tries to stop and the other person keeps going, refuses to take no for an answer? Sure, that’s a crime. But this criminalization and demonizing of CONSENSUAL sex and sex-talk is ridiculous.

    I think removing age-of-consent laws would lead not only in a reduction of sex offenders created by THIS type of thing; it would reduce real rape of people under 18. If someone knows they can TELL someone “Hey I was talking sexually to this 20 year old on the internet, but then he started talking about having sex in person, and I wanted to stop but he’s still going” without everyone freaking out about the fact that they were talking to a 20 year old, they’ll be more likely to ask for help. Or all the situations where a teen doesn’t want to have sex, or doesn’t want to have sex ANYMORE with their over-18 partner.

    Teenagers having sex is natural. Being attracted to teenagers is natural. We can’t override 200,000+ years of human nature with laws. It’s not the people that are attracted to teenagers (and pretend/imaginary teenagers) that are mentally damaged; it’s the people criminalizing it.

    If a person gets to be a teenager without having the knowledge on how to make choices about sex, then that is an issue with the parents. Sex is a bodily function that you must teach your children about. It would be like if you always wiped for your daughter, so never taught her to wipe front to back; then when she started school and so was wiping for herself, she kept getting infections – should you make a law against children wiping for themselves? Get angry at the principal for not ensuring your daughter didn’t poop at school? Put everyone who even THINKS about letting a child wipe for themselves on some sort of list? Or should you teach her to wipe correctly and ask for help when it isn’t possible?

  38. Papilio August 14, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    ‘Happy 18th birthday, son! Now remember: break it off with your girlfriend, don’t date every single girl you feel naturally attracted to at this age and should you want to find an 18+ girl instead, stay away from dating sites, ’cause it could land you in jail and on the sex offender registry for the rest of your life! Here, open your present…’
    Wonderful. I’m beginning to understand this whole abstinence-until-marriage thing: because it’s open season on young men.

    @Robert: That’s a very sad story.

  39. Dirk August 14, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    Papilio, Romeo and Juliet laws are real, they exist, many states have similar provisions and prosecution is up to the DA. The world isn’t out to get you.

  40. no rest for the weary August 14, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    Interesting to hear a bit about the funding side of this equation. Here I was thinking that it was all PR but of course it’s about federal funding.

    The PR can’t be ignored, though. Again, historically, underage girls (it’s always girls being “victimized” by men, never the other way around, which is nonsense) who “put themselves out there” to an older audience (at a bar, down by the docks, at a frat house) were told they “deserved” it if they got raped. And if the sex was consensual, no one really cared.

    Then, suddenly, we cared. We cared about children being molested, we cared about women getting raped, we cared about teen girls getting in over their heads before they were ready. We cared so much, that we started whole task forces and specialized law enforcement to try to address this issue.

    It’s good to care, but when caring crosses the line into manufacturing infractions in order to justify the funding of the specialized law enforcement, I think it’s time to concede that the caseload volume of young women ages 13 – 17 who are being “violated” sexually just isn’t enough to justify the infrastructure that’s been built around the “issue.”

    So we get consensual relationships treated as crimes, we get elaborate sting operations to “bust” men who take the bait, and we get the parents of young women acclimated to the idea that every young man is a potential predator… look at all the laws and police required to “protect” our daughters!

    I weep for the sheer madness of it all. “Civilization” sure ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.

  41. Berth Ljunggren August 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    But in the case of the 32 year old virgin, if he texted her some sexual stuff he did so thinking she was 18, not 16 that he didn’t know at the time, so should not be evidence.

  42. Dirk August 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    By Joel Dockery Thu Aug 14th 2014 at 4:20 pm

    If someone says she is of age but then lies to you and claims she is 15, then you obviously thought that she was underage because, you know, you should automatically believe the last thing a female said. I don’t understand why this is so hard for everyone to follow…

    Yes Joel, That is about 100% correct. If you are in a chat room or on the phone talking about sex to someone who said they were 26 and then at the last minute clearly indicated they were only 13, you should believe they are 13… This is how that goes: HER: “…”You know how I said I was 26? Well I am really only 13.” YOU: “What? Really?” HER: “Yep.” YOU “Wait, if you are really 13 I am not cool with this.” HER: “We’ll I am!” YOU: “Oh man, this sucks…we shouldn’t have been talking like that. I got to go. Stay off the adult chat rooms little girl.” And then you go report her chat room sign in to the webmaster or something.

  43. Dirk August 14, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    While technically not knowing the true age of someone who is lying about their age is not a defense for statutory rape, the situation of it (meaning the lie) always would come into play. In the story Robert told the man should have gotten a lawyer. He certainly needed one, or a better one.

  44. Amanda Matthews August 14, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    >And then you go report her chat room sign in to the webmaster

    WEBMASTER: “So, you are saying that you were chatting sexually with a 13 year old girl?”

    YOU: “Well, yes, but I didn-”

    WEBMASTER: “Stay right there, you perv, I’m forwarding all your chat logs to the cops.”

  45. Jennifer August 14, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    I would just like to be clear Florida is not the only place creating sex offenders. Dirk these men are probably about as stupid as you are. Obviously these men went to adult hook up chat rooms to hook up with an ADULT there are many other places to hook up with children with a way better outcome than visiting with adults. On another note these are not men in their 40 these are young men the most popular age not above 24. These are young men looking for still looking for companionship.

  46. Warren August 14, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    Dirk,
    You seem to have a great deal of experience with talking to minors in adult sites? How often has this happened to you?

    How bout posing another point sure you don’t and cannot possibly know the age of someone online. Hell you cannot even be certain of a person’s gender, or anything. So you basically either have to judge for yourself if they are telling the truth, or you just assume everybody lies.

  47. SteveS August 14, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    Public urination won’t get you in the sex offender registry in my state, despite what some people seem to keep repeating. IIRC, most states won’t put you on it for that. I have beaten a few of these cases where the people were urinating in the woods or a back alley. For the most part, things like indecent exposure or similar statutes require some kind of intent to show other people your “junk”.

  48. Jennifer August 14, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

    Warren very good point as the mother of the young man that was wrote about was a male posing as a 20 year old female. My son is one of the shyest people I know not a PREDATOR OR PEDOPHILE. AND I WILL NOT LET this justice system or one minded people like dirk make him something he is NOT

  49. Uly August 14, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

    Subject change – Lenore, do you read Playscapes? They show these great pics of vintage playgrounds, and I’m pretty sure this one is one you’ll love: http://www.play-scapes.com/play-history/1900-1950/girl-swing-pitt-st-new-york-city-walter-rosenblum-1938/

  50. Donna August 14, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    “But in the case of the 32 year old virgin, if he texted her some sexual stuff he did so thinking she was 18, not 16 that he didn’t know at the time, so should not be evidence.”

    It is not a crime if he believed that he was talking to someone of age. It most certainly can be evidence against him in a stat rape case involving the same person. Any communication he had with the person can be evidence if it is somehow relevant to the case.

  51. Donna August 14, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    “While technically not knowing the true age of someone who is lying about their age is not a defense for statutory rape, the situation of it (meaning the lie) always would come into play.”

    No it wouldn’t. It absolutely is not a defense to stat rape. I suppose that you could present the case to the jury and hope for jury nullification. Some may want to roll that die knowing that they are going to prison if they lose; most won’t.

  52. Andrea August 14, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

    Hold up.

    Chatting with an underage person online is a crime?

    What kind of police state do we live in? I remember being a teenager and going into chat rooms (remember the chatrooms on AOL – a/s/l? Yeah, those.). I chatted with people of all ages and, yes, sometimes the convo got sexual, but it was a way for me to explore it without actual DOING anything risky. (Kind of like reading a Danielle Steele novel, which I also did, and always skimmed to get to the “sexy” parts.) Then the chats ended and I moved on. If the adult tried to meet with my 14 year old self and make something happen, then yes, charge away. But internet chatting? Give me a break.

    Statutory rape I get, but now adults aren’t even allowed to exchange written words teens without us sending the adult to jail? That’s insane.

  53. Donna August 14, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

    Andrea – Engaging in sexually explicit chats with minors (or people pretending to be minors) is a crime. Chatting in general is not.

  54. Donna August 14, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    SteveS – People are convicted of indecent exposure for public urination in my state. Arrest isn’t common in the woods, but if you do it in a place where people are likely to happen by, you will get arrested. Our town sees several drunk college kids get arrested for this every year for peeing outside bars downtown. They mostly get pretrial diversion if eligible.

    However, even with a conviction, you don’t have to register in my state since it is a misdemeanor.

  55. steve August 14, 2014 at 11:40 pm #

    The cops are the predators in this story

  56. J.T. Wenting August 15, 2014 at 12:12 am #

    “Often the men don’t actually believe that they are talking to a teenage girl. After all, the “girl” is in an adult chat room – a room that you have to have a profile indicating that you are over 18 to enter. The pictures exchanged are of an ADULT. A young-looking adult, but an adult nonetheless. ”

    worse. Quite often the “child” only announces the fact after the date and place has already been set to meet. And now you’re a sex offender for having “lured a teen into a sex date” even if no sexual conduct was discussed, simply because “that’s what the place you met is intended for”.
    And there’s no recourse, it’s your word against that of “trusted law enforcement officers”. Only thing you have are logs on your computer, which will be dismissed as “probably tampered with” when their own logs, tampered with to show that you did intent to meet a minor for sex before setting the date, are admissable.

    I’m a moderator at an A rated venue in second life. We’re constantly on the lookout for people claiming to be underage, and people who actually are.
    Luckily both are not welcome according to the TOS and we throw them out on first suspicion, let the server operators handle them (which usually means they get their accounts terminated).
    While the main reason is not to be accused of being pedophiles by allowing minors in our vicinity, another big reason is to prevent such false accusations by getting rid of police stings where adults pose as minors while looking as adults (often they’ll have avatars designed to look adult, when pressed for information about their age they claim to be minors (think usernames hinting at being underage)).

    Especially during school vacations we encounter many such, often claiming to be as young as 7 or 8 when questioned.
    While I’m sure there really are children trying to sneak into things they’re not allowed to see (that’s what children do after all, and adults), the numbers are way too high to account for just that (sometimes 5% of total visitors…).

    “Entrapment is virtually non-existent in the US. To prove entrapment, you have to show that you had absolutely no predisposition to commit this crime whatsoever. Since you did actually commit the crime, courts almost always decide that you did have a predisposition to commit this crime or you wouldn’t have done it no matter what the police did.”

    Only in the case of “child sexual abuse” would it be considered a crime to agree to meet someone without discussing sexual intent who claims to be an adult until the date has already been set…
    And in the US you have it easy. In other countries someone can send you an email with a cartoon drawing of a nude child and you’re now “in posession of child pornography”.

    “Can’t the men argue that, although the interlocuter stated at one point that “she” was “underage,” they had strong reason to believe this to be fantasy role-playing on the part of a middle-aged policeman, and that they were in fact and in belief consensually involved in sexual fantasy play with a middle-aged policeman?”

    Sadly not. By agreeing to meet with someone who claims to be a minor, even if they’re not, you’re “guilty” of being a pedophile, even if no sexual innuendos were involved (from your side, they’ll always claim they were “obvious”).

    “The real questions are how come the cops get off scot-free for sexual activity during office hours, and is this practice attracting perverts and sex offenders to become members of the police force, because they know they get a free pass?”

    Because they get off scott-free with anything, long as they are “tough on crime” and have a “good arrest record” for whatever they’re involved in.
    So we have cops luring men into “dates with minors”, other cops pilfering drugs on street corners to get the arrest record for drug posession up, still others trying to entice drivers into street races and other speeding offenses. There’s cops masquerading as pimps to lure men into hiring “prostitutes” just so they can arrest them, etc. etc. etc.
    “the end justifies the means” is the mantra, “keeping the streets safe” by getting rid of people who “might become criminals if left out there”, and of course they’ll look good and get promotions for themselves and their bosses by getting a lot of “criminals off the street”.
    They even go as far as sabotaging parking ticket machines, then waiting until drivers walk around the corner looking for another one before slapping a fine on your car, or removing no-parking signs, then when the street is full of parked cars replace them and fine every single car parked there.
    And try to prove it, you have nothing unless you can produce certified photographs of the situation the moment you parked there, and how many people can do that?

    “But it’s important to remember that not all sting operations work like the examples they showed. A properly-conducted sting will involve the “minor” stating immediately that he or she is underage, not changing ages partway through. The stinger also has to be sure not to initiate contact; it’s allowing the adult to make the contact that removes the possibility of entrapment charges.”

    yes, and we all know that’s not how stings are actually conducted most of the time. They can’t “catch” enough “predators” that way, so they lure people into implicating themselves by making them agree to meet, THEN change their age and see if the “pedophile” still shows up (or simply charge them for not canceling the date, when the adult may well have just wanted to get the “child” back to her parents with a good talking to).

    “First I have to ask. Why the heck do you have politicians as law enforcement? I have never understood having an election to pick a Sheriff.”

    I believe the original idea was to have someone “trusted by the community” as the sheriff. But it’s gone the same way as every other elected office, and became a position of power and money grubbing for unscrupulous individuals (and yes, I’m sure there’s some good ones out there even now).

    “Many of these men that DID END the conversation/call are still being investigated and called “Perverts” by Sheriff Judd! All law enforcement swears to uphold the law,not break the law. And that is what Polk county is doing in order to continue receiving federal funds.”

    Of course. After all, they had “sexual conversation with what they believed to be a minor” even if they didn’t continue the conversation after they got confirmation. The police and prosecution will just claim that “from the conversation the accused would have understood the originally mentioned age to have been a lie and known he was talking to a minor all along”…

    “Sheriffs are directly elected as a method of separation of powers. They are answerable to no-one other than the public. They are not under the authority of the state police or a mayor, or even the county commissioner.”

    nice in theory. In reality of course they’re not responsible to anyone except the source of their funding, which are governments at several levels, not the voters (at least not until the start of the next election campaign).

    “So I assume the guy refused to have sex with the girl despite of her attempting to seduce him? So with that being the case, on what grounds did authorities have to charge him with a sex crime? It’s his word vs. the girl’s and her mom’s.”

    And in such cases the police and courts will universally believe the women, not the man.
    So he’s suckered one way or another. Either he pleads guilty and ends up a registered sex offender for a crime he didn’t commit, or he doesn’t and gets convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and ends up a registered sex offender.
    Only difference is in the second case his stay in prison is a lot longer and he’s less likely to survive it because someone’s going to whisper the “fact” that he’s a pedophile to the other prisoners in the man’s unit, and prisoners “don’t like pedophiles” and often beat them up or kill them.

    “So, really, how many kids are ACTUALLY landing on sites with adult content?”

    Quite a few, they know full well how to avoid the blocks and go deliberately looking for it.
    There’s nothing accidental about it. Teen boys find ways to see porn pictures and movies, teen girls lure adult men by claiming to be 18 or older, hoping to squeeze them for money.
    And cops prey on those exact same men, using the same tactics, masquerading as adults, then changing their claimed age at the last moment when the guy’s already agreed to meet.

    “There are no tests that prove that a woman didn’t have sex. You may be able to prove that sex occurred with the presence of semen, but the absence of such doesn’t prove that no sex occurred.”

    Especially since the definition has become stretched so much to mean that even touching a child not your own on the skin can now be considered “sexual abuse of a minor” if the investigating officers want to be nasty (or boost their number of arrests).

    “These days money is tight for police departments. It seems local police departments could be using their resources for something more productive.”

    It’s a cheap, easy, way to boost your number of arrests, and that’s one way they’re funded, per arrest.
    Another way is speeding tickets, which is why you see so many (semi-)automated speed traps.
    And parking fines (though those are often outsourced to rentacops now).
    No need to go out and get all sweaty walking a beat or going after potentially dangerous people with guns. Can do it in between morning coffee and lunch breaks.

    “Papilio, Romeo and Juliet laws are real, they exist, many states have similar provisions and prosecution is up to the DA. The world isn’t out to get you.”

    And they’ll always prosecute if they feel there’s a chance to win and get you in jail, because that’s what gives them good press and career advancement more than anything else, “putting a dangerous child abuser away”.
    The world IS out to get you, especially the part where there’s people getting kicks out of getting you, or having a monetary incentive for doing so.

    “But in the case of the 32 year old virgin, if he texted her some sexual stuff he did so thinking she was 18, not 16 that he didn’t know at the time, so should not be evidence.”

    oh, “but he should have realised from the immature nature of the texts that he was talking to a minor” so he’s guilty after all…

    “While technically not knowing the true age of someone who is lying about their age is not a defense for statutory rape, the situation of it (meaning the lie) always would come into play. In the story Robert told the man should have gotten a lawyer. He certainly needed one, or a better one.”

    There’s no lawyer can get you off unless there’s a lot more than the “girl” lying about her age.
    Only way to get off is potentially to prove that the man didn’t intentionally go to meet someone they thought was underage, iow the statement about being underage was never received (and in a chatroom that’s next to impossible to prove, you can’t prove it wasn’t received, only that it was sent, after all you could have tampered with the logs…).

    “WEBMASTER: “So, you are saying that you were chatting sexually with a 13 year old girl?”

    YOU: “Well, yes, but I didn-”

    WEBMASTER: “Stay right there, you perv, I’m forwarding all your chat logs to the cops.””

    A good moderator would look through the logs, see the conversation starting with the “girl” claiming to be an adult, then the man stopping the conversation after the claim “she” is a child, and ban the child. That’s how we do it, and forward the logs to the site owners for possible further action (including contacting law enforcement if the location of the claimed child can be discovered so they can investigate her and her parents).

    “It is not a crime if he believed that he was talking to someone of age. It most certainly can be evidence against him in a stat rape case involving the same person. Any communication he had with the person can be evidence if it is somehow relevant to the case.”

    Ah, but try to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that he didn’t “believe he was talking to a minor”. Especially to a jury that’s been fed stories about the masses of “sexual predators online” “looking to lure children”, and then bludgeoned for hours or days by a stream of prosecutors and “experts” all stating that “it is clear from the language of the messages the girl sent that she’s immature, anyone would recognise that”.

    “Andrea – Engaging in sexually explicit chats with minors (or people pretending to be minors) is a crime. Chatting in general is not.”

    even non-sexually explicit chatting with a minor can be a crime if the venue where it happened is such that “sexually explicit content can be expected” (which if you believe the prosecutors and “experts” is the entire internet, any movie theater, school grounds, and most anywhere else.

  57. Dirk August 15, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    Not unless you consider this an adult chat room W.

  58. Warren August 15, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    Dirk,
    What the hell is your last comment suppose to mean?

  59. SteveS August 15, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    Donna, the only public urination laws are local ordinances and the state SOR specifically excludes ordinances unless there is an equivalent state law. I live near a college town, so public urination arrests are not uncommon there, but fine is pretty small and most people don’t bother to fight them.

  60. Dirk August 15, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    It was a funny response to your post.

    “By Warren Thu Aug 14th 2014 at 6:29 pm
    Dirk,
    You seem to have a great deal of experience with talking to minors in adult sites? How often has this happened to you?”

    Like I said, only if you count this place.

  61. EricS August 15, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    IMO, these stings benefit to a certain extent. Yes, they entrap. But they entrap the right people (hopefully). You go to a chat room, you start talking to someone, they eventually tell you they are underage, and you are 18 and older. Common sense would dictate you end the conversation. Just say, “oh, I thought you were older. Too young for me.” But there are those that follow through despite knowing they are underage. There is only one reason an older person, will continue to talk in sexual manner, and even agree to meet an underage person from a chat room. That is a perverted mind. These are the people these stings are trying to bust. They aren’t many, but they are out there. For the majority of these individuals, stupid doesn’t make them “predators”.

    However, that doesn’t mean that’s all these stings do. Like everyone else, law enforcement are people too. And they are susceptible to sanctimony, arrogance, and self-centredness just like the rest of us. They can become over zealous. Seeing bad in everyone. There is nothing wrong with an adult TALKING to, or even BEFRIENDING underage kids. I consider my friends’ children friends as well. I’ve watched them grow up, I’ve helped in raising them. I’ve baby sat many of them on many occasions. But some people would think this is perverted. And will put a spin on it to make it so. Common sense and reason goes straight out the window.

  62. anonymous mom August 15, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    I also wanted to add that I so appreciate Pransky actually doing RESEARCH. As noted, many of the men arrested in these stings are in their teens or twenties. (I’m not sure why the graph starts at 24–I’ve been following the FL stings for a while, and men 19-23 are routinely arrested, as the article itself states.)

    What does that mean? It means that we have police officers, often in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, pretending to be horny, promiscuous, sexually-aggressive teen girls in order to manipulate young men several decades their junior into being arrested. How is that okay? I mean, if we believe that a 20 year old having sex with a 15 year old is horrifically wrong and manipulative because of the age difference, how exactly is a 58 year old cop entrapping a 23 year old guy by pretending to be an eager teen girl interested in having sex with him okay?

    The other issue is that there are NO ACTUAL MINORS involved. The man being arrested is often the youngest, most immature person in the entire situation. Now, why exactly is sex with a 14 or 15 or 16 year old wrong? It’s because they are immature, right? The problem is that the pretend 14-16 year olds are NOT immature, because they are actually fully-grown adults, often decades older than the men being entrapped. They are not even pretending to be naive or inexperienced or immature. The very thing that actually makes sex with underage people wrong–their immaturity and inexperience–is not at play here. Let’s imagine a scenario in which a 15 year old really did have the mentality and life experience of a 50 year old: would sex with them still be wrong? I don’t think so. I mean, that’s not a realistic scenario, but if it were–if there were a 14 or 15 or 16 year old who truly did think and act and reason and communicate and have the knowledge and experience of an adult in their 40s or 50s–I think it would be very hard to say that a person in their 20s having sex with that teen would be horrifically wrong. And yet, in these stings, that is EXACTLY what is happening. We’re making falling for the ruse of a 50 year old dude pretending to be a horny teen who’s into you, when you yourself are often a stupid, immature, inexperienced teen or twenty-something, to be a serious felony sex crime.

    Anyway, I am just so heartened to see somebody actually investigating these stings.

  63. Donna August 15, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    “There is only one reason an older person, will continue to talk in sexual manner, and even agree to meet an underage person from a chat room. That is a perverted mind.”

    That is not true at all. They often continue talking because it is disembodied words on a screen, not an actual person sitting in front of them. The sexual conversation gets them off, not who is saying it. They aren’t enjoying the conversation because she is a hot, young thing. They are enjoying the conversation because it is a hot conversation (in their opinion, I guess, most of it was ridiculous to me). Not a single one of my clients charged with this was bothered by the fact that they were actually talking to an obese 50 year old man when I told them. They don’t care who is on the other end. It is all about them.

    During our sting, we had 20-30 clients charged. 2 actually made plans to meet the person and followed through; one of them was only 19. This is not providing any service.

  64. anonymous mom August 15, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    “Part of the problem is that the whole underage-kids-in-chatrooms thing was a bigger deal 10-15 years ago. Teens absolutely were going into those chatrooms and soliciting sex from adults who should know better.”

    I’m not sure that was actually ever happening. I’ve seen no evidence that teens were seeking out actual sex with adults on adult sites on the internet at anything like significant rates.

    And, if they were, then what? Are the men predators? Sure, the guys should know better. But, so should the teens. Do we honestly believe that guys, often in their teens or twenties themselves, are going to have protective, paternal feelings about teens less than a decade younger than they are? (And, wouldn’t it be maybe a little grosser if they did?) They aren’t.

    Again, by all means, if a teen actually goes into a chat room and actually solicts sex from an adult and the adult actually goes through with it, then charge that adult with contributing to the deliquency of a minor. But they still aren’t a predator or a public threat. The only people they’d pose any threat to–if we want to call it that–are teens who would knowingly, actively, willingly solict sex from adults on adult sex sites.

    It’s the drug dealer analogy again: if my teen comes home with a joint because some dealer was hanging out at the local high school and approached them and coerced them into taking the joint, yes, that dealer would have been preying on my teen. But if my teen drove to a place where drug dealers are known to hang out, sought out a dealer, and asked that dealer to sell them a joint, well, my teen wasn’t preyed on. I’m going to have a very different view of the drug dealers in those situations, and one poses a threat to the teens in the community that the other does not. In the second situation, as a parent, I’d feel that the primary isn’t wasn’t that there was a drug dealer willing to sell to a teen who sought them out (Do I really expect drug dealers–maybe one only 8-10 years older than my child anyway–to protect my teen child from him or herself? No!), but that my teen was actively seeking out drugs. That’s what needs to be dealt with, and the “threat” in this situation is the threat my teen poses to him or herself.

    We have to stop confusing teens with small children. A teen who makes the conscious choice to go into an adult setting and engage in illegal adult behavior is not an innocent victim of a predator. That doesn’t mean the adult is blameless, just that it’s silly to not differentiate between a teen who has been specifically sought out while doing non-sexual activities and coerced into sex and a teen who knowingly, willingly decided to seek out sex with older people in settings that are supposed to be for people 18+.

  65. Donna August 15, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    Contrary to Anon mom’s research, the vast majority of our clients charged with this were 30+. I can only think of 3 or 4 that were under 30.

    That said, in no other situation is it still criminal if what you were doing was actually not illegal. If I plan to steal your bike, but in some weird twist of events actually end up stealing my own bike, I haven’t committed a crime, even though I fully intended to do so. The fact that no crime occurred negates my intent to commit a crime.

    Here, the conversations themselves are not criminal. You can have all the sexual conversations that you want with willing adults. The conversations are only criminal if had with a minor. However, none of the parties involved are actually minors!! The reality is that two middle-aged men sat around and talked about sex, both pretending to be things that they are not.

    As I said, these are all disembodied words on a screen. The face people put to those words in their own head when they are reading them may bear no relation to who is supposed to be talking. For all we know, these men are just talking to the only people who would talk sexually to them but are actually pretending in their own mind that they are talking to Meryl Streep.

  66. anonymous mom August 15, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    @Donna, did you see the graph in the linked article? Even leaving out the men who were 19-23, the arrests were heavily skewed toward men in their 20s.

  67. Donna August 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    anon mom – I believe you. My experience was very different with our sting. But my area is very different in general.

  68. Warren August 15, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    Okay we all know there are many different interests and tastes between consenting adults when it comes to sex.

    So staying on the same logic as adult men being arrested for chatting up adult men pretending to be pre 18 females……then we need to arrest the 30yr old husband whose wife dresses in a schoolgirl uniform for him, and calls him daddy. After all wouldn’t that be stat rape?

  69. Donna August 15, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    Warren, Exactly! If we are going to have the thought police, then don’t we have to go all the way?

    Into age-play? Prison. Dating a woman with Turner Syndrome or a man with Klinefelter’s Syndrome (both cause a failure to develop sexually at puberty)? Prison. Dating someone who looks 15? Prison.

  70. Papilio August 15, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    So, if there is a Romeo & Juliet law in your state, you could just *say* you’re 22 or so (while actually being 18), keep talking to the ‘girl’ who now claims to be 14, and then the cops would waste their time and money preying on you, tracking you down and coming over to arrest you, only to then find out that they can’t because you’re really 18? 😀

  71. Donna August 15, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    Papilio – Good plan, but Romeo and Juliet statutes only apply to stat rape statutes.

  72. JP Merzetti August 15, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

    I dunno…..
    Whatever happened to “intent?”
    And while we’re at it – proving intent.
    People any age, say any fool thing that comes into their head (or write it, as the case may be.)
    The internet is the biggest pile of misrepresented crap going.
    At least 90% of everything that ever happens within its private communications (barring email) remains anonymous.

    I grew up during a time when no end of sexually explicit verbal garbage was deluged upon minors (by non-minors) and no-one ever got charged for anything unless it translated into intent (and that meant physical.)
    Words (however implied) did NOT hurt us.

    I do believe this is all about padding the stats – it’s a numbers game, and anyone with a nose that can follow money will know that.

    But again: we created the internet. We fashioned the beast by our own design. The kids didn’t.
    Yet there they are. And what are we to do about it?
    Freak out like Spiro Agnew over “spicy” song lyrics? (or secret drug messages….loved that.)

    “Child” protection for anyone 1 day away from their18th birthday has nothing to do with protecting them from themselves, their own curiosity, or the internet.
    The horse left the barn on that one.
    It has everything to do with the ridiculous and hypocritical double standards of a sick society.
    (Which is something kids could use a little protection from.)

    I’d hazard a good healthy guess that most hardcore pedophiles will never be caught this way, in this kind of trap. So phony charges for fake incidents will have to do.
    And the registries swell to bursting,just to feed the machine.

  73. Maria August 16, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    How does this crazy, ridiculous, ludicrous sting operation have anything to do with raising kids and saying there are predators in the area.

    This sucks, totally, and I feel terrible for the ppl who were entrapped into this, however, what are you suggesting? That parents ignore that REAL predators do exist. The best thing parents could do is go on the national sex offender registry and see if there are any offenders in their area–you can see who is a legitimate offender (they have felony tierings) and who is not.

  74. Papilio August 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    @Donna: So, for an 18yo, actual sex with a 14yo is okay, but talking about it online isn’t???
    Priorities anyone?

  75. Donna August 17, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    Papilio – In my state, your 18 year old is getting a felony whether he has sex or chats with a 14 year old. Romeo and Juliet laws vary greatly throughout the states. Some version of them exist in just about every state, but the age difference allowed varies from 1-9 years (in the majority of states it is 2, 3 or 4). In some states, it is a complete exoneration. Other states it only decreases the charges to misdemeanors. In some wonderful states, it only applies to opposite sex couples.

    Romeo and Juliet exceptions are pretty new. They are a reaction to young adults being charged with felonies for stat rape after states started increasing the age of consent (ours went from 14 to 16) and instituting sex offender registries. Our legislatures often, in trying to address a specific issue, only fix that one specific situation, without thinking that 6 other laws basically covering the same thing need to be changed too. (If you want to see how this sometimes plays out in crazy ways, google Genarlow Wilson. He was sent to prison for 10 years at 17 for receiving oral sex from a 15 year old when, if they had just had sex, he would have only been facing a misdemeanor).

    My guess is that we will see sexting and chatting laws changing over time if more and more 17 and 18 years olds get caught up in them.

  76. Omer Golan-Joel August 18, 2014 at 7:40 am #

    This is the result of the conservative “tough on crime”/”broken windows” attitude: looking for people to punish, and punishing people severely for minor infractions, especially victimless ones, or statutory offenses (i.e. a kid doing things which would be perfectly legal for an adult to do but are illegal for kids). Even when no harm was done, many people love to punish the “offender”.

    This is the time to change the system so that as long no real harm is done to a person (a real person), there is no crime and the cops have nothing to do.

  77. Papilio August 18, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    @Donna: That really is… dumb. I know laws are always a bit behind present-day problems, but they could have seen these things coming.

  78. Liz August 18, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    I don’t think most people understand how little it takes to be put on the national sex offender registry, and to have that label their entire lives. My husband heard stories in his criminal justice classes about people who did things that had nothing to do with kids or even sex who landed on it for life. The professor thought it was nonsense, and that if they wanted it to mean something they had to stop doing this. One of the kids in the class was actually on the list… for urinating in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night, and happened to be seen by a state trooper on a horse. Seriously. No sex involved, no children involved. Now he has to go and tell his neighbors that he’s a sex offender for the rest of his life. How about all the little kids going on it now because they hug or kiss another student in the 1st grade? If you want it to have weight, to make a statement about the risk of being around a person, it should not include these people.

  79. JillSmith August 19, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    Culpability and intent to commit a crime was also criteria to be indicted and convicted of a crime. But not in today’s world. Now it’s all to look tough on crime to save one child.

    My husband is currently serving a 5 year mandatory sentence for receipt of child pornography. He had 29 files that were downloaded with over 1000 Legal files on Limewire. He clicked on keywords “hussyfan” and “ray@gold.” Come to find out, these are the 2 biggest keywords for child porn, but who would know unless you are into this? The literal definition for hussyfan is fan of a slutty housewife, which my husband was looking for a specific amateur couple, so that keyword fit his search. His mistake was he did not look at the titles the Limewire brought up, but hit “select all” then “download.” So all files under that keyword were downloaded, no matter what they were. And 10 days later he was arrested. In court the officer said that they knew it was a single download, but in the affidavit, it read that it was multiple downloads over several days. Making it look like he had been out looking for the illegal files.

    My husband wasn’t looking for child porn. He had over 500 gigs of data on his computer, with music and movies being the top files. There was nothing from before this download on his computer or any other technology he had in the house, but they wanted 20 years. He got 5. But now he is labeled with others that enjoy looking at the child porn and with the predators, even though he has even been asked for papers to prove he is in for this crime by other sex offenders in the prison because they do not believe he is in for those charges.

    So this article is for entrapment, but if you have boys that are looking for images of kids their age or for pornography, please tell them that this can land you in prison for up to 20 years and a lifetime on the registry. If that’s the one thing we can do is save others, especially kids and their parents, from the nightmare we have gone through, then we have turned this into a positive for us.

  80. DB August 20, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    It doesn’t matter if it’s entrapment.

    They pile on so many charges with such draconian sentences that most defendants are too afraid to fight the charges because they might lose. So they’ll usually accept a plea bargain. The War on Drug Addicts works the exact same way.