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Milwaukee man charged after Internet sex sting

Many law enforcement officials who handle sex crimes say that online solicitation of minors is a growing epidemic. But it's difficult to say whether the rise in arrests for these Internet crimes is due to an increase in so-called predators or the investigations conducted to find them. The efforts police make to catch suspects in the act often require them to make plans in person. Some undercover detectives even make suggestions of illegal activity that the suspects might not have engaged in otherwise.

Earlier this month a 44-year-old Milwaukee man was accused of traveling to nearby Waukesha, Wisconsin, to have sex with a 15-year-old girl. The girl was actually an undercover detective. According to a criminal complaint, the man contacted the detective through an Internet messaging service. After learning the age of the "girl," the man began asking her for pictures.

Once the conversation got sexual, the man allegedly sent the girl an explicit video of himself and they began talking about meeting in person. The complaint says the man said it was too bad the girl wasn't older. The detective realized while conversing with the man that he'd chatted with the man before, but that he never showed up when they agreed to meet. But he again agreed to a meeting at a local restaurant, and the detective asked the man to bring condoms.

When he arrived at the restaurant, the man sat in a booth and soon after was approached by police. He at first said he'd wanted to meet up with the girl to discuss the dangers of rendezvous with older men, but police said he eventually admitted to trying to meet up for sex. He was taken to the Waukesha County Jail and held on $5,000 bond.

The online request for condoms suggests that the detective needed evidence that the man wanted to have sex with the girl. Although the man later acknowledged to police that he was interested, it's important to consider that detectives don't always have all the evidence they need to charge a suspect without making suggestions like these.

If you think you may have been coerced into commission of an Internet sex crime, it pays to work with an attorney who focuses on such offenses. Experience in handling evidence in these cases can make all the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

Source: Waukesha Patch, "Man Charged After Getting Caught in Internet Sex Sting," Joe Petrie, April 15, 2012

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