Online sting operation nabs Monmouth County man for attempted child sex crimes

A Monmouth County man was arrested for attempted child endangerment and attempted luring after engaging in sexually explicit internet chats with a Passaic County sheriff’s officer posing as a 12 year old girl. The man, unaware that his chat partner was a police officer, allegedly asked to meet the girl several times to go camping, to the mall, and horseback riding. On two occasions he also initiated video chats with the officer and exposed his genitals.

 

The offense of endangering the welfare of a child applies when an actor engages in a prohibited sexual act with a child who is less than 16 years old. “Prohibited sexual acts” include not just sexual penetration, but also bestiality, sadism, masochism, oral sex, and the possession, creation, or distribution of child pornography. As a result, the offense encompasses many different types of crimes, ranging from consensual sexual activities between adults and minor children to more egregious cases of child sexual abuse, and the penalties increase along with the severity of those circumstances. To prove charges of attempted child endangerment, as in this case, the state has to prove that the actor took a substantial step in a course of conduct that would have constituted child endangerment if the offense was completed. Attempted child endangerment generally carries the same penalty that would apply had the crime been completed.

 

Luring is a separate crime that occurs when a person attempts to lure or entice a child under the age of 18 into a motor vehicle, structure, or isolated area, or attempts to convince the child to meet or appear at any other place, with a purpose to commit a criminal offense against the child.  Luring is generally a second degree crime and carries a penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison.

 

The use of online “sting operations” to catch child predators has become increasingly common in recent years as sex offenders have learned to use chat rooms, social networking sites, and other online tools to lure minors into sexual situations. These law enforcement operations, however, may be susceptible to challenges of unlawful entrapment if the defendant can prove that the police officer’s conduct would have coerced an otherwise law-abiding individual to commit the crime under similar circumstances.

 

I am Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey sex crimes defense attorney, and I’ve represented clients against charges of luring and solicitation of minors for nearly 40 years. If you’ve been arrested as part of an online sting operation and believe that you were a victim of entrapment, contact me at  908-337-7353 to discuss your case, confidentially and at no cost. It’s possible that you could have other defenses available in your case, such as constitutional claims or evidentiary challenges, and even if you were caught red-handed, you might still be able to negotiate a favorable plea deal and have the charges reduced.