Where Will the Next Sex Sting Take Place?
If I was a betting man, I would say Polk County. Grady Judd has conducted over a dozen stings and you can pretty much count on him to continue entrapping men into traveling to meet a minor. The latest push has been in the area of child pornography. In the Polk sex stings the Internet exchanges by the undercover police often invite the exchange of “pics” hinting at taboo sex, family fun and other terms hinting at underage sex. The best way to avoid being arrested is to not commit a crime. If you are on the Internet chatting about sex, chances are at one time or another you have talked to an undercover cop. The stings are run primarily by departments that are members of the Florida Sheriff’s Association. The ICAC funding for some reason seems to flow through Grady Judd’s office. I am doing a public records request to try and find out where the money is going. Money is usually the principal motive by the various Sheriff’s departments. The other thing behind the sex stings is publicity. Do not forget, the Sheriff is an elected official. Nothing makes for better press than being able to do a special on television bragging about keeping the streets safe from sexual predators. It makes for good press and it brings in revenue. Palm Beach County is long overdue for a sex sting as is the Panhandle of Florida.
On a positive note, another Court just threw out another case finding “entrapment as a matter of law”. Finally some of the judges are coming to grips with what law enforcement is actually doing. Over the next three months I have a number of cases coming up in Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota County where entrapment is the main issue. There is now a site tracking the sex sting arrests. You can log into Icacarrests.com to view some of the stats on where the cases are coming up as well as the dispositions. If a loved one has been arrested for Internet solicitation of a minor, child pornography or traveling to meet a minor, you really need to understand just what the police are doing. Do not assume your loved one is guilty. Unfortunately many employers do just that and fire someone for simply getting arrested.
Do not give up hope. These cases can be defended. It has been twelve days since the last sting in Florida and you can bet another one is in the works now. The sex stings no longer are limited to Craigslist casual encounters or Backpage. The police are posting ads on regular social media sites and chatting sometimes for days before mentioning age. I have one case where a man chatted for days and then traveled to meet what he thought was an adult. After traveling 250 miles when he finally arrived outside the take down site, the undercover cop mentioned for the first time her alleged age. This violates all of the ICAC standards and procedures and hopefully a Court will toss this one. As a sex crime lawyer I try and track the results around the State and when something of interest happens, you can read it here. If you are on the Internet, never chat with a minor. Never travel to meet anyone that even hints they are a minor. Demand age verification for anyone you plan to date. Google the person to make sure they are real. Assume that everyone lies on the Internet.
The Internet is a dangerous place…..Assume the worst
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