Montgomery County Sex Crimes Sting
The Montgomery County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force arrested 36 adults in the last three months of 2016 for sex crimes against children, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force implemented “Operation Safe Holiday” during October, November, and December, in an attempt to target Internet-based sexual predators.
Some of the people are accused of meeting with individuals who they believed to be minor children interested in sex, while others are accused of exchanging sexually explicit photos of children.
District Attorney Brett Ligon later warned parents against allowing their child unmonitored online communications, lest they fall victim to Houston sex crime. “We know many kids are now out of school for the holidays and will likely have lots of free time on their hands. Therefore, it is imperative that parents stay involved with who their kids are communicating with online,” Ligon said.
“Sexual predators are looking for opportunities to meet up with underage kids for sex and are using the internet and social media apps to arrange the meetings. We are committed to protecting our kids and hope that parents will actively join us in this fight.”
Breaking It Down
Ok, so that’s the hard news version of the story, in case you hadn’t read it elsewhere. So we’re going to break down this case without the journalistic spin.
What we’re looking at is the classic example online solicitation sting. If you’ve ever watched “To Catch a Predator,” that’s exactly what happened here.
Now, we don’t have access to the evidence for these cases, but we can make some educated guesses on how these trials will play out. Many of these prosecutions will end up reduced to lesser crimes as part of a plea bargain. Ninety-seven percent of federal convictions and ninety-four percent of state convictions are guilty plea bargains.
Many of the accused will not have the money to afford to hire lawyers. Many people will also feel pressured to take plea deals in order to save money or time. It can be hard to turn down a decent plea deal if the alternative is putting your life in the hands of 12 strangers.
In an Online Solicitation prosecution, the state’s lawyers must prove that the person charged (1) communicated in a sexually explicit manner with a minor; or (2) distributed sexually explicit material to a minor. Alternatively, the state’s lawyers can also obtain a conviction by proving that the person charged solicited a minor to meet another person, with the intent that the minor would engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with the actor or another person. If the accused can cast doubt on any of those elements, they may be found Not Guilty.
Sex crimes are some of the most difficult offenses to defend yourself against because jurors naturally tend to assume that you are a monster if you are accued of a sex crime. No one can imagine sitting in the Defendant chair until the time comes when they are accused. And then it’s a surprise that the system is so incredibly unfair.
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