Jury Finds Airman Not Guilty in Sarasota Sex Sting
On September 11, 2013, ironically, Patriots Day, a Sarasota jury found a young Airman from Tampa not guilty in an Internet Sex Sting case. The young man had visited a sex site called Craigslist Casual Encounters just hours after returning from a one year post in Korea. He was lured and enticed by an ad posted by an undercover officer, a “chatter” used by the police to entice young men into compromising situations. He responded believing she was an adult and then got baited and switched when the officer said of by the way, I am only 14. The young man responded and agreed to simply “hang out” with no agreement to have sex. When he showed up at Walgreens to meet the young lady, he was arrested.
This was a case of classic bait and switch and entrapment and the jury agreed finding him not guilty in short order. The jury was right. I tried that case with another local attorney Darrin Finebloom who brought me in because of my experience in trying sex crime offenses.
The jury panel at first was very prejudiced because of the nature of the charges but ultimately came around and understood that just because you are accused of a sex offense, it does not mean you are guilty. The undercover officer was a Federal Agent who in this case sent the young man pictures of a woman it would be legal to have sex with. This was outrageous deception and the jury agreed. Sex Sting cases can be won with jury verdicts. Some of the judges are now throwing out the more blatant cases of entrapment but others leave it up to the jury. I handle many Internet Solicitation cases and do a lot of sex crime defense. It is great to see this type of illegal conduct by the police exposed. It confirms my faith in our great jury system. You are indeed innocent until proven guilty.