Part II of a two-part series. Also see Part I: Be sure you know about “sex offender” scams.
By Sandy . . . Police stings of varying sorts are nothing new. Some skate very close to the edge of being entrapment, and some have crossed that line entirely. There seems to be no limit to the scenarios that law enforcement can devise in order to create more arrests.
The case of Jace Hambrick became prominent because his mother Kathleen pushed so hard for someone to listen, and finally someone did.
Jace was an immature, introverted, 20-year-old who, when he wasn’t working, was online with fantasy games. That was essentially his life. He occasionally wandered through the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist and had met several women with whom he hooked up. When a person claiming to be a girl who was as into fantasy games as he was started a chat with him, he says that when she said she was 13, he didn’t believe her. He went to the address she gave and was promptly arrested and charged with attempted rape of a child – even though no child was involved.
Media pieces were written about Jace, and his mother Kathleen was invited to be on the Dr. Phil show, where she told Jace’s story.
Journalist Michael Winerip, in writing about Jace, was surprised that these stings target men with no criminal record or history or propensity for seeking sex with, or even having a sexual interest in, underage partners.
“An analysis of court records in Washington State stings, as well as interviews with police and prosecutors, reveals that most of the men arrested have no felony record. A strong predictor of predatory behavior is an obsession with child pornography, but at the time of their arrest, according to the State Patrol, 89 percent have none in their possession and 92 percent have no history of violent crime,” he wrote, and, “The men caught in these cases can wind up serving more time than men who are convicted of sexually assaulting and raping actual children.”
He also writes that, due to the shame associated with even an accusation of an adult seeking sex with a minor, some who have fallen victim to these stings have committed suicide.
Such is the case of Brian Petersen, a 39-year-old school teacher in Texas. Brian went on a gay dating app and struck up a conversation with a man who, after some initial conversation about age, said that he was fourteen. After hearing a voice message from him, Brian concluded that this was an adult male role playing about being a youth. When he went to where they were to meet, he was arrested and charged with online solicitation of a minor. Less than two days later, Brian was dead.
About his choice to die, Brian said in a suicide note to his family, “ ‘I am deeply angry at law enforcement as they destroyed me and gave me no other solutions . . . This is the type of accusation that destroys a career and a life, no matter the outcome. I cannot live the rest of my life getting a doubting eye every time I talk to a kid near me. I will not spend the rest of my life barely surviving after losing everything. So, I choose oblivion.’ ”
In his note, he lamented, as did the journalist writing about Jace Hambrick, that these operations “. . . were not always targeted operations to catch men explicitly hunting and soliciting minors,” but instead “. . . became ‘dragnets’ that could ensnare men with no history of such desires or crimes.”
And finally, this personal report is courtesy of JEV, CSPS Media:
Florida Sex Stings are back in business. Last week it was Lake County and now its Polk County, Florida. Arrests include health care workers and military service vets.
The sting is as follows: E-mail addresses found on sexual dating websites in which alleged perpetrators have signed up or logged into are submitted to the sheriff. These so-called sexually oriented dating sites are actually law enforcement websites set up to facilitate sex offender stings.
Messages come into your e-mails with chances to date others. Police are using ages of 13-14 to initiate contact, and the dialogue begins. Once anyone says yes to a date or messages with graphic dialogue, a crime has been committed. Traveling to meet up with an underage person for sexual purposes is a felony. Under Florida law, it matters not at all that no contact with an underaged person took place. Your IP address is also found by police forensics, and warrants can be obtained for further actions.
Please, please, do not use sexually oriented dating websites. Do not answer any sexually oriented text messages on any social media platform. And most of all, do not travel thinking you will be having a sexual relationship with anyone.
The fabrication of a sexual crime has been used for years in Florida. So far, constitutional battles over these “sex stings” have been argued and lost. Read the sheriff of Polk County’s remarks about how these perpetrators are nasty, nasty people!
I’m not a lawyer, nor do I judge anyone here, but please follow my advice and stay away from any sexually oriented dating websites. Please.
This sounds like reasonable advice.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.
17 Thoughts to “Be sure you know about law enforcement sex stings”
Law enforcement like to play Eliot Ness and call it a sting operation.
I call their actions….. Farming. And in very fertile soil.
The tactics are getting crafty. It can start with an odd “Ice cream truck” and then it evolves into random postal delivery trucks tossing around “floater” packages that just facilitate their hanging around long enough to scan your WiFi.
And for some odd reason they keep at it, like 1,000 fails doesn’t matter as long as they can get someone just one time. So curb that urge to “smart” your home or auto. Because that’s the privacy breach the state needs when the time comes to turn on you.
you are exactly correct……
For Example, now it is License Plate Scanners…
.Imagine your 80 year old grandmother that borrows your vehicle and is pulled over and the stupid LEO, then, looks frazzled…
-that would be the payback, cause that 80 yr old, power of thunder, is going to exhale at them at a very rapid rate…
I had a late model burgundy sedan with tinted windows park in front of my house with tinted windows about a week after my last registration. The driver put the hazard lights on – probably done so as an attempt to not arouse suspicion. I suspect they were either photographing the house, doing a visual assessment of the cars in the drive, or scanning to see if my WI-FI was “open” (not password protected) so they could try to discover how many devices were connected to my router. I imagine they do this so if a future warrant is served, they know what to look for. Very creepy indeed.
This is a form of menacing and stalking.
I’m definitely going to approach the vehicle and take a photo of the plates if this occurs again.
They’re not just scanning for open WiFi, they’re scanning for anything 802.11 period. And it’s not that they even need to get into a network, just proving that “there’s something there” is enough. There’s a ton of info they can get just from driving by such as signal strength, channel frequency, device uptime, and MAC serial numbers. They can even spoof (or “clone”) that info and stage fake equipment to set people up. Just depends on how bad they want to get someone. The information you volunteer during registration can and always will be used against you so it’s best during these times to just keep a low-tech profile. And just be aware of suspicious events happening near or at your home or property. Chances are it’s some idiots trying to score the “anonymous tip” lottery. Indeed, their tactics are getting crafty.
I don’t understand how these charges stick in court. A judge with half a brain should be able to figure this out before a defense attorney even says a word. And here’s what needs to be figured out:
These men are being ensnared on ADULT DATING SITES & APPS. Not KID’s chat rooms on KID type apps (and yes, there are apps for kids to chat, but they are not “dating apps”). If someone were REALLY trying to hook up with a minor, then that adult could lie about his age and open an account on these apps and chats made specifically for the teenage crowd.
These stings are happening on site made for ADULTS. The initial intention of the person trapped in the sting was to find an ADULT for dating/sex. That right there should be enough for a judge with half a brain to throw these out of court BEFORE ANYONE SAYS A WORD. I don’t care about the “attempt to meet the minor” crap. What’s important here is the way in which it all went down. And it went down with making the arrestee BELIEVE that at FIRST the person was an adult. Only AFTER some back and forth chat does the person on the other end (the cop) say they are “actually 14”. This is enough for a judge to not only throw the cases out and drop all charges, it’s also an opportunity for the judge to embarrass the LE agents about their backwards tactics.
You’re forgetting that every single arrest is more money for the State. Judges, DA’s, police, sex crime units, the prison system, parole/probation officers all benefit from these tactics and smile with pride and nobility as they do so. Yes, it’s beyond sick, but we live in an evil world and the entire thing is far more corrupt and evil than any measly guy looking for a good time. And they say I’m a danger? Lol!
MAESTRO…..the biggest violation here is the “Terms of Service Use”‘; which means that YOU MUST BE 18 years or older to enter the website; so the Sheriff’s Office makes a deal with the Website Operator to Allow the Sheriff’s Office to be Under AGE…AND ALL JUDGES UPHOLD THESE ILLEGALITIES….In every Case that I am aware of…
KARMA is at Work:
For me, in my particular case, I was sentenced to 10 years probation; during my sentencing the Senior Female Judge had 3 Panic Attacks (she excused herself from the bench, 3 times); she later retired that day; she had much PERSONAL remorse during my sentencing…..
In Addition, the Judge who sentenced me, to a prison term for a Technical Probation Violation, later died that evening of a massive heart attack; ironically, I went to boarding school with both of his sons…he knew that but my attorney would not ask for a conflict of interest…
SO….the plot thickens everyday meh son
I got a Story to TELL!
Yes Terms Of Service is a direct violation under any circumstances because for multiple reasons. One when officers and law enforcement is sworn in they confirm they will tell the truth, and every they put on the affidavit states true and correct to your knowledge which is in violation of an arrest because simply they are in violation of terms of service.
Yes, you are right, every so often I have seen on some dating apps a female who posts an ad and says something like I am really 13 and I am using my ad to communicate with my family, to me, that sounds fishy, why not use Facebook or any of the other communication apps out there? Or some ads give the age as 18 or higher but in the notes underneath she says, I am only 15. I stay away from those.
First, Sandy, thank you for this Discussion and thank you for posting a Picture of one of the Many Knuckle-Heads that are in Law Enforcement as the same treatment should be used as they Post Pictures of People that are Arrested, not Convicted!
I will be sending Narsol, via email, my detailed experience of what happened to me in a Sting by Sheriff Elmer Fudd, oops, I meant to say Grady Judd…
You can publish what you care to publish from my expose
thank you in advance
I remember a while back I put an ad on Craigslist, looking for a hookup, forgot what the ad said, but was contacted by a woman who said she was 18 and she sent me a picture and she looked like she could be 18 but she also looked like she can be 15 too, so alarm bells went off in my head. During our conversation, she asked me if I like them young so I answered yes as long as they are 18 over, I said that to protect myself and to put on notice to any cop or a “to catch a predator type” that I am in no way interested in a sexual encounter with a minor. Well, not too long after I said that, she said she had to go and I never heard from her again. So my advice is don’t be too trusting, I learned that the hard way, so be careful.
first off entrapment is legal in the fed system, they do what they want, how they want and when. if they don’t have evidence they fabricate what they need to get a conviction. I learned that lesson 17 years ago, the hard way. They keep you locked up without bond until you plead guilty, I can’t believe that a country that claims to be based on freedom will convict people for supposition and theory with no real victim or crime. I traveled to meet an adult woman 42 years of age without any possible chance of meeting her children or any plans of leaving the airport I was still convicted of rape. The government embellished parts of statements destroyed exculpatory evidence and flat out lied. Welcome to modern day Nazi- America.
Keep in mind that one reason these stings flourish is that from a law enforcement point of view, they are easy: done on a computer while the officer sits in an air-conditioned office. No foot work or even interviews requiured.
Close to entrapment Mississippi passed a bill to ban use of entrapment as a defense why so they could set ppl up everyday. Lawyers are a joke here the law is a joke here no one stands behind truth anymore.
This is terrible !
As a former offender myself, it is common knowledge that you don’t agree to meet with or sext/exchange graphic texts or emails with anyone claiming to be underage. Those caught in stings were warned (by the person stating their age as being under the age for legal consent) and deserve to be arrested for moving forward anyway. Common sense aint so common, I guess. Those that did move forward were looking to hook up with minors. Everyone here can easily agree that offending against minors is abhorrent, correct?
Again, I say this with all the awareness in the world that these are not actually minors but in fact police officers. Thank the gods for that, or there would be additional victims. These men and women who respond knowing full well that they are talking to (alleged) minors are actively attempting to perpetrate sex crimes against children. You can’t say ‘omg, you didn’t catch me being a sex offender correctly’ just because you don’t like the idea of a sting operation. You still did or were actively trying to do wrong.