Entrapment for solicitation of sex crimes (statutory rape) with minors. Granted, stings like this do capture actual sexual predators. But they also capture people with no interest in predating anyone.
It’s a legitimate law enforcement tactic, but the drive to arrest people–to “create criminals”–rather than actually take the time to filter through and find the actual predators, means that innocent people are caught in the dragnet.
After two years of dealing with the case, Gennette [who was acquitted] found himself overwhelmed by emotion. “The first thing I did was call my mother and told her of the news,” he told me this month by e-mail, “then everybody else whom I was close to. (I am even shedding tears as I write this). Finally, the truth was out, but there was no celebrating this victory. Honestly, I was mad—mad at those who had created this unnecessary mess in the first place.”
The police point of view looks more like this:
“A lot of times they will tell us what they’ve done in the past, and that’s when it gets even more frightening, because now you’re talking about an individual that not only wants to hurt a child but someone who is admitting to have hurt a child or bragging about hurting a child,” Brevard Country Sheriff Wayne Ivey told local media after a recent sting.
I don’t know what the fix is here. Gennette was acquitted, so one could argue that “the system worked,” but his life was ruinously altered in the interim. Some people don’t make it that long, as per the article: “Several Florida men charged in similar online stings have killed themselves after their arrests….” Clearly, if it takes years of uncertainty, sporadic homelessness (endured by Gennette), and no doubt many thousands of dollars for legal defense, then the system is far from perfect. I want police to go after actual criminals, not unsophisticated and gullible people who aren’t predisposed to criminal or predatory activity.