Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's no fantasy

In July 2005, Frank Gagliardi, 62, began chatting in an Internet chatroom called "I Love Older Men" with someone he knew as "Lorie." Monday October 22 2007 a ruling by the 2nd U S Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhatten NY ruled against his appeal of his conviction of attempting to entice a child to engage in prohibited sexual activity.

It seems that Gagliardi had stuck up an online conversation with an adult government informant posing as a 13 year-old girl in the room. His lawyers had argued that the law used to convict him required an actual child victim and was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. They also stated that the law "impermissibly suppresses fantasy speech with adults who happen to be posing as minors."

The arrest of Gagliardi came not after he had engaged in the online chats with the supposed 13 year-old girl but when FBI agents on October 5 2005 had found him waiting in his car. Gagliardi believed that he was going to meet two 13 year-old girls that he had been having online conversations with and authorities discovered condoms and viagra in his car. A jury then convicted him and he was sentenced to a mandatory five year sentence.

The ruling found that law enforcement officers investigating sexual predators can pose as children to catch them, that the First Amendment provides no refuge for such criminals and it is in line with similar decisions by six other appeals panels across the country. Those panels have rejected the same arguments for "sound reasons" and the appeals court found that requiring law enforcement officers to use a real child as a decoy would significantly impede enforcement of the law.

I can understand that some adults may be interested in pretending to talk as an adult and juvenile while both are adults online. Pretending to do that when both agree that they are adults is definately not the same as planning to meet what you believe to be a minor and that is the sign of a predator I feel. I am glad that rulings such as these will allow the police to continue to catch those dumb enough to search for child victims online.

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