Police investigations aimed at catching online sexual predators are on the increase. Federal and local officials routinely arrest people after posing as minors online and trying to interact with adults looking for sexual encounters with underage people. The objective is to get a suspect to initiate illegal activity for which they can be arrested.
Countless Wisconsin residents have been arrested after arranging a meeting with an undercover officer posing as a minor. Although the public is slowly becoming more aware of online sex stings, the arrests for these Internet crimes continue.
A Wauwatosa man was arrested in October even though he strongly suspected that he was being lured by an undercover officer. The 46-year-old man has been accused of using a computer to facilitate a sex crime, a charge that could result in a 25-year prison sentence.
Investigators say they targeted the man after he posted an online ad seeking a girl looking for "experience." An undercover officer posed as a 15-year-old girl and contacted him, which led to online chats and photo exchanges and the officer telling the man that "she" was looking for the sexual experiences the man sought in his ad. The man resisted, saying the girl was too young. But the communication continued, with the man repeatedly expressing fears that he was about to be caught in an undercover sex sting. Each time, the girl would appear to pull away, which led the man to continue contacting her.
The man continued to tell the girl that he didn't trust her. But eventually the conversations became more sexual, and the two agreed to meet at a restaurant. The man never left his car after driving into the parking lot, but was pulled over a short distance away by a surveillance officer. After trying to explain that he had hoped to teach the girl a lesson, he admitted to all of the online activity and was arrested.
When it comes to sex offense arrests, being suspicious isn't always enough to avoid a conviction. Once you choose to engage in a sexual encounter, you can be sure that police will attempt to charge you with a crime, even if you feared from the start that you were being baited. A strong defense will focus on a defendant's original intent and question whether the undercover officer used entrapment or other illegal tactics to secure an arrest.
Source: Waukesha Patch, "Tosa Man Snared in Online Child-Sex Sting, Police Say," Joe Petrie, Nov. 7, 2012
- Our firm handles situations similar to the one described in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Wisconsin online solicitation of a minor defense page.