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September 14, 2006

Would-be Child Molester Back on the Streets in Nevada [Sobek]

Nevada has a "using technology to lure children" statute, basically designed to get on-line predators who try to meet up with under-age kids and molest them. The statute reads in pertinent part:

1. . . . [A] person shall not knowingly contact or communicate with or attempt to contact or communicate with a child who is less than 16 years of age and who is at least 5 years younger than the person with the intent to persuade, lure or transport the child away from his home or from any location known to his parent or guardian or other person legally responsible for the child to a place other than where the child is located, for any purpose:

(a) Without the express consent of the parent or guardian or other person legally responsible for the child; and

(b) With the intent to avoid the consent of the parent or guardian or other person legally responsible for the child.

Today the Nevada Supremes upheld the dismissal of an indictment against Anthony John Colosimo, a Reno resident, who thought the 41-year-old cop he was chatting with was a 14-year-old girl named "Sammi."

The District Court dismissed the indictment for a few reasons: the statute was unconstitutional under the First Amendment and the Interstate Commerce Clause, the cops entrapped Colosimo, and he did not "knowingly" violate the statute because he was never chatting with a real 14-year-old girl. The Supremes affirmed. They said β€œ[t]he inducement of minors to engage in illegal sexual activity enjoys no First Amendment protection,” there was no undue burden on interstate commerce by cracking down on pedophiles, and the Defendant was clearly not entrapped: the Court said that the fact that Colosimo asked Sammi whether she were a cop did not consitute "reluctance."

But they upheld the dismissal of the indictment because he couldn't "knowingly" contact a 14-year-old when in fact he did no such thing (that we know of). They distinguished a 9th Circuit case that upheld a conviction for attempt, because you can knowingly attempt to lure a child and be wrong about the identity.

Dave from Garfield Ridge did a post last April after a DHS official was arrested for basically the same thing: trying to seduce what turned out to be a cop. He prefaced his comments with an "I have a feeling this post is going to get me into a *LOT* of trouble." After noting his disdain for pedophilia, he said:

can anyone tell me what the crime is here? Who is the victim here? There was no 14 year old girl involved, there was a "girl" in a Sheriff's uniform. Nothing in the story suggests that the "hard-core pornographic movie clips" were illegal, i.e. child porn.

So, what we have is a man arrested for talking dirty to an adult, and for sending presumably legal porn to an adult. Hell, if that's all there is to this, I should be doing 10 to life right now.

In Nevada, it's one to ten. FYI.

In online pedophilia cases, the dividing line between a "thought crime" and a real crime is very narrow. Mr. Doyle obviously seemed to have a thing for young girls, but what if he was acting out a fantasy of his that he'd never actually follow through on? I personally don't believe for a second that this is the case here (I suspect the worst about this scuzzbag), but again, there was no young girl involved, there was no illegal pornography involved, and there wasn't even a meeting to confirm intent, no infamous "dirty old man shows up in the Waffle House parking lot to meet the Polk County Sheriff" event. And even those meetings don't really confirm intent unless there's an actual minor involved, do they?

(More at Dave's).

In Nevada, it looks like a simple case of poor draftsmanship. The outcome would have been totally different had the legislature defined the word "intentionally" to include "when the dude thinks it's a kid but it's really a cop." Or words to that effect. But I suppose the question, in light of Dave's comments, is should the statute be amended at all?

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posted by Ace at 03:36 PM

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