ABC channel seven news had a segment on the morning news on August 5th 2016 about the latest sex sting called Operation Green Shepherd run in Manatee County.
Once again, the report was filled with misinformation and outright falsehoods. This is not the stations fault but rather the way the information is provided by the sheriff’s office. These sex sting operations do not target men looking to seduce unsuspecting children. In fact, it is just the opposite. Police are actually contacting men with no prior history of interest in children. They will randomly contact men who have posted profiles on Meetme.com and engage them in chat. The undercover chatters will cleverly hint at getting together for a date. After engaging them they will mention that they are really underage and try and set up a sexual encounter. They will suggest bringing condoms. They will claim they want someone to teach them about sex. The problem is that this type of entrapment is not working on real predators. It is ensnaring young men, men with development disorders and autism. What this does to the families of these young men is horrible.
If the police were truly interested in preventing crime, instead of creating crime, the resources would be better spent by officers lecturing in middle school. They should have officers at PTA meetings alerting parents to the dangers and encouraging parental controls. The truth is that very few children are seduced on the Internet. This is the same “stranger danger” myth that is spread about sex predators targeting kids on playgrounds and street corners. The truth is that almost all of sexual abuse of minors is by family members and family friends.
With each sex sting operation, the police become bolder and more creative in how they entrap unsuspecting men into compromising situations. Even when men break off contact, the undercover chatters reinitiate and try to convince them to come to a location, only to get arrested. Sadly, some young men with disabilities simply do not understand the consequences of responding. Some are so lonely that they jump at any opportunity to chat with a female and they truly do not understand that they are being drawn into a crime. These men with disabilities have a tough enough life ahead without the created label of being a sex offender.