It has become commonplace for officers of the law to attempt to trick individuals into either receiving pornographic images of children or to meet underage individuals. They do this by getting adults to pose as minors online and then attempting to trap other adults who seem to be interested in molesting children or downloading explicit images of children. Recently, a 35-year-old man (named withheld to protect the accused) from Rancho Cordova, was conned in this very same way. He was involved in a sting initiated by Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice initiative that has been around since 2006 and has pled guilty to all charges.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a member of law enforcement posed as girl, aged 14, who was interested in chatting online. After a few exchanges via chat and email (some of which may have been overtly sexual), he allegedly asked the ‘girl’ if she would forward some sexual photographs of herself to him. After that, it was just like an episode of “To Catch a Predator.” Law enforcement officials were waiting for him at a Citrus Heights park where he is accused of having sought to have sex with the girl, toting condoms in his pocket and having brought an iPhone as a gift. He was arrested at the scene.
His situation is not as uncommon as you might think. The website of the Sacramento Division of the FBI details how at least one other man was sentenced to 5 years for possession of child pornography in the Sacramento area alone this month. A CHP sergeant is also up against similar charges in Solano County. If convicted, he faces a $250,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison, even though there is no evidence that he ever touched a minor child and the girl he was going to meet never existed. Socially, he will also face being ostracized from both work and members of the public, as he will most likely have to permanently register as a California sex offender (CA Penal Code 311.1 – 311.11).