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Investigation of Wisconsin sex crime suspect initiated by citizen

When people are arrested for sex crimes involving a computer, such as online solicitation of a minor, it's usually the result of an undercover police investigation. The investigation usually starts with a detective looking in chat rooms for people who want to chat with children; the detective poses as a child to pique their interest.

But what if it's an ordinary citizen who goes trolling for suspects? The case of a Beloit man accused of using a computer to proposition a young girl started out not with a police investigation, but an online conversation with a woman in another state.

Rock County sheriff's officials said the 32-year-old man was spotted messaging a young girl late last month on a dating website by a 39-year-old Louisiana woman, though it's not clear how she witnessed the act. But she then pretended to be an 11-year-old girl and initiated a conversation with the man on the dating website.

From there, the two started text-messaging each other and the woman realized the man was from Wisconsin, according to news reports. She contacted her local police department and eventually Beloit police to report the conversations. The case was referred to Rock County, which contacted Louisiana State Police. That department then assigned one of its detectives to the case, who took over the identity of the 11-year-old girl online. According to a news article, the man set up a meeting with the girl at a fast-food restaurant.

Authorities said the man was arrested after arriving and parking in the restaurant parking lot. After obtaining a warrant to search his car and home, police took his phone, computer and other accessories. He appeared in court on Friday.

It would be interesting to know how the Louisiana woman initiated the conversations with the man, considering she's not a detective but seemed to want to get him in trouble. Luring the man into talking with her and committing offenses that he wouldn't have otherwise constitutes entrapment. If a court finds that to have occurred, the man may be able to beat the charges against him.

Source: Rock County Channel 3000, "Beloit Township Man Faces Computer Sex Crime Charge," Scott Beedy, Feb. 3, 2012

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