Legal Loophole Used To Free Online Pedophile

from the not-good dept

The common way that police catch online pedophiles is to simply go into chat rooms and pretend to be under-aged girls. Apparently, the method works well. However, a federal court in Kansas City may put a damper on this method, as it’s thrown out one such case on the grounds that the accused didn’t actually commit a crime. While the Inquirer suggests the method used is “entrapment” and therefore illegal, that’s not the case at all (the definition of entrapment should clear up why). However, it wasn’t the entrapment defense that the guy used. Instead, he pointed out that, since the agent he was chatting up wasn’t actually under-age (even if he believed s/he was), then he technically did not break any federal law. Of course, this is more of a loophole argument — and if the ruling stands (and, of course, it’s being appealed), then you can bet that politicians will quickly move, legitimately, to close this loophole.

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Comments on “Legal Loophole Used To Free Online Pedophile”

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John Ratliff says:


This is only a loophole if you truly believe that the government should start making thought crime illegal. I understand both the reluctance to wait until a pedophile has actually assaulted a kid and the reluctance to use actual children as bait, but I think you’re being overly dismissive of the court’s logic, which is that the guy did not actually commit the crime involved. Parallel case: Some years back a soldier was convicted in a military court of possessing illegal drugs. During the testimony, it came out that the drugs were in fact completely legal; the soldier just *thought* they were illegal. (I think they were over-the-counter painkillers that she thought were prescription-only.) So she did time in Leavenworth not for anything she had done, but for what she thought she had done. Two questions: Is this fair? And what’s the difference between this and the pedophile case?

Marco says:

Re: There is no difference

The soldier deserved the punishment too. She showed that she would willingly and knowingly use illegal drugs in the military. By thinking they were illegal, and then using them, she proved that.

By the way, that judge is full of it. There are things called sting operations, which is exactly what the police were doing. In a sting operation they might have a fake prostitute waiting to be picked up. They might have a fake load of stolen merchandiese. Once the crooks start participating in what they think is illegal merchendise (it isn’t), arrested.

That pedophile that targets what he thinks are kids, is just as dangerous as one that actually targets kids.

Itch says:

Re: Re: There is no difference

The thing is in most sting operations, money has to be exchanged or explicite verbal contract given for goods or services. They can talk about sex to a prostitute all they want until they agree on 50$’s for whatever, 100$’s for drugs, or 200$’s for a deli slicer. It is at that point that cops can actually make the arrest.
What I’m wondering is if the pedophile was being explicit with the deputy, but didn’t yet agree to meet them. Just a thought.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: There is no difference

?So all i have to do to get you in trouble is set up an evil twin access point out side your house; when you start using my access point instead of your’s, it’s OK with you if the police kick your door in and arrest you.
Where did you say you lived again??

Sounds like a great idea! You figure out where ?Vlatro? lives, and I will get the lynch mob together, and the branding irons hot! Thankfully he won?t want any of those ?sissy liberal judges? to stop us!

In reality of course, we should ALL be happy that one needs much more education to be a judge, than one needs to be ?Vlatro.?

Peter Bowling says:

Re: Re: There is no difference

“The soldier deserved the punishment too. She showed that she would willingly and knowingly use illegal drugs in the military. By thinking they were illegal, and then using them, she proved that.”
I dont agree with that… One day I was watching a news report about some bank robbers that got an unusually large amount of money from a bank and got away with it (they had been hiding in a janitor closet for 20 hours or something)… they are the criminals… they actually did the crime… then theres me- when I saw the news report I said to my friends, gee, I’d hide in a janitor closet for a week for that much money. Did I commit a crime by considering this? Heck no! If I thought the speed was 25, but I was going 30 because I was in a rush, only to discover the speed was actually 35… do I deserve a ticket? Now if the oposite were true, i didnt know it was a school zone so I was going 30, then got a ticket. The judge may give me a break at his/her discression.Innocent until proven guilty. Wheres that gone, out the window? Prove I did something wrong, prove I am guilty of the crime, and I will lead the way into the jail cell. Freedom and Justice are what America is based on. When they start being able to censor what people think, tell you if youre allowed to smoke in your own home, decide by legislation whether or not you can require your children to attend church with you on sundays, etc, thats when our freedoms start disappearing. The government thinks they’re helping by deciding for us whats healthy and good, then forcing us to obey. The Crusades were just the same attitude. They thought the church was the only way, and they decided for the public that everyone should be Christian. So they made it law, enforced it by the sword, and killed anyone unwilling to join. Thats the reason we seperated, came to the new world, fought a long war, and declared ourselves independant. Theres a fine line between thinking and acting, but there is a line.

Boilerbob says:

Re: Re:

The difference is that the soldier thought she was acting illegally while acting legally. The pedophile was committing an illegal act knowing it was an illegal act. If your assestment of the soldier’s case is accurate, then it may not be fair but it’s not the same as knownly committing an illegal act.

I think a better example would be if cops sold someone asprin and told them it was cocaine. Is there any precedent for that? Simulating a drug deal would have all the elements except that illegal drugs were not delivered.

spam says:

Re: Re: Re:

“cops sold someone asprin and told them it was cocaine”

If you sell someone a bag of flour and tell them it’s cocaine, you can get busted for possession, even though you only had flour. It’s happened before.

ie, kids at raves selling vitamin c tablets as x-tasy and getting busted for selling the real thing.

Dezaad says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

So, in using the selling of vitamin C as Xtasy analogously, how would you prove that the pedophile actually intended to molest? The intent cannot be shown merely by showing up.

The way to close this ‘loophole’ is by making it a crime to agree to meet with someone you believe to be a minor with the intent to have sex, and this is what legislators should and will do.

eeyore says:

No Subject Given

The article doesn’t say exactly when they arrested the man. He may have been arrested when he arrived to meet the “child” he had been corresponding with. Local authorities here have busted a dozen or so people like that. They arrest them when they show up to meet their friend and in some cases bring a minor along to prove intent. They meet in a public place so there is no danger to the minor. Most of the pedophiles have posed as teenagers while making their arrangements. One was arrested with a suitcase full of handcuffs, restraints, whips, and sex toys.

Vlatro says:

No Subject Given

The trouble with sex offenders is capturing them before they do any damage. But if there is no damage done yet, how can we prove they would have committed a crime at all? Worse yet, most of these criminals are treated as though they have a legitimate illness, and are often given therapy and counseling with limited probation rather than an actual sentence. The solution is not to try to detect people before they act, or to wait until a child is abused to arrest. The answer is even easier than that. Spineless liberal judges need to put their foot down, and commit themselves to rulings that will make people fear the consequences. While the defendant should have discretion over whether the trial is public, all sentencing should be televised. Local news stations would love that. Also consider facial branding. That would enable everyone who encounters such a person to be immediately aware of their crimes. Minimum 10 year sentence. The only valid argument against a longer minimum sentence is the cost of keeping them in prison so long. It would cost tax payers $140,000 – $160,000 to keep someone in jail for that long. But I believe it would be worth it to keep children safe. Everyone should agree with that. Besides, if the prisons are serving their unofficial, but most important function, a child molester wouldn’t last ten years anyway. Getting back on topic, That was entrapment, and though I believe it would be fine to make an exception in these types of cases, we can not set a precedent that tactics like that are acceptable to use. The implications of a ruling like that would open the door for hordes of other problems. I stand by the judges decision, but this man should not go unpunished. The initiative should be taken by the community this man lives in to force him out of their town. There are many legal ways of making a person’s life Hell. If he were living next-door to be, I’d see that as a problem needing my personal attention. Lets just bring back the days of the good ol’ Lynch Mob.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No Subject Given

…all sentencing should be televised.

Yeah, let’s bring back criminal punishment, including execution, as a form of public entertainment.

Also consider facial branding.

We can do better than that. Everyone should have their entire criminal conviction history tattooed on their right forearm. Then make it illegal to cover your forearms in public. When two people shake hands then, they could look at each other’s forearms to see their criminal record and know what kind of person they were dealing with.

Buck Rowland says:

How do you enforce decency

This is almost as questionable as using a defense against rape charges as “it was only adultury.” Whether entrapment, by legal definition or not, how do we ask this “perp,” “exactly what were your intentions?” “You won’t mind us watching you in the future will you?” Before and if a judge dismisses a case like this, these questions should be asked and the answers reported by the media. Another question for these folks would be, “is it immoral or only illegal to have sex with children?”

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