His probable legitimate threat to underage girls notwithstanding, this was definitely entrapment. I wonder how long the Supreme Court will allow this sort of thing to go on.posted by aaron at 10:15 AM on August 10, 2000
>>Does anyone actually believe that it was a fantasy for him and not a real attempt to molest a child?<<
A lot of the jurors in his first trial did, or at least seriously considered the possibility; that's one of the reasons it ended in a hung jury.
There's also the big, big problem that there was no 13-year-old girl. The cop sometimes typed in a way that seemed a bit sophisticated for a 13-year-old; the defense jumped all over that as "proof" Naughton thought he was merely acting out a fantasy with an adult. And as dhartung noted above, there was no attempt at sexual assault, no attempt to even wait for him to make any sort of move on the cop on the pier. All he did was introduce himself and say "meet me down there." Then they pounced. And his lawyers built up "reasonable doubt" because of all this.
The difference between this and hookers, drug dealers, hit men, etc is that in all those cases, the cops wait until the perp has done something that, to him, is unquestioningly an illegal act. Guys don't get arrested for soliciting a "hooker" until he's asked for a sex act and handed over cash. With a "drug dealer" he's got to hand over the cash, and is usually presented with actual drugs. Ditto with the "hit man." There's no space for "reasonable doubt." But in this sort of situation, you need to be able to show, without any room for misinterpretation, that the person believes 100% that the person he's meeting is under 16. With Naughton, the FBI agent's adultish typing and the planting of a woman who was not a 13-year-old, left it reeking of entrapment to jurors. (After all, short 30-year-old women sometimes wear backpacks and dress cutesy too. How can you be so sure Naughton didn't recognize her as a 30-year-old women who was herself acting out a sexual fantasy about being an underaged girl, ladies and gentlemen of the jury?)
The solution is rather simple, I think: use real 13-year-old girls. The chatroom stuff could easily be handled by whipping up some cheesy Turing bot that uses snippets of conversation taken from/based upon real teen chatrooms (maybe that's just one of the sorts of programs Naughton whipped up to get some clemency). And as for the real-life meeting, well, cops use underage kids all the time to go buy cigarettes and beer; why not pay a girl to stand by a pier for a half-hour? He'd never have had the chance to say or do anything to her before getting bagged, so the girl wouldn't be under any real threat, and they'd have a much more airtight case.posted by aaron at 8:43 PM on August 10, 2000
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