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Although prosecutors decided not to charge three of the defendants, Kenner has yet to lose a case in court: 22 defendants have pleaded guilty without going to trial, and the other 25 cases are pending.
A closer look at the cases shows that sentences can depend on the circumstances, such as whether the defendants sent sexually explicit photos over the Internet or traveled to meet the "girl" for sex, or whether computer-aided solicitation was the only offense."They're the kinds of cases that you worry about bringing before a jury," said Baton Rouge lawyer Rodney Baum, one of the few lawyers to challenge the statute's constitutionality.He represented Ray Hatton, a Lafayette man who was arrested in 2006 when he arrived to meet who he thought was a 14-year-old girl he had been chatting with online.But Johnson, of the attorney general's office, said investigators are careful to avoid entrapment by letting the offender lead the online conversation."We just kind of have to sit back and be the innocent little 13-year-old, and all the sexual solicitation has to come from them," he said.Law enacted in 2005 The Legislature made computer-aided solicitation of a minor for sex a crime in 2005, punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a ,000 fine.
(Download text of law.) Four months after the law was enacted, Sharon was arrested on that charge.
List: 22 guilty pleas so far in Kenner Internet sex stings Some consider the initiative to be an attack on victimless crimes, because none of the defendants chatted with an actual minor, much less had sex with one.
But defense attorneys have so far failed in their attempts to challenge the law's constitutionality and the police tactics that some say can be too aggressive.
Mountain of chat logs Defense attorneys say the stigma of child-sex solicitation and the mountain of computer chat logs that prosecutors can use as evidence make the cases tough to fight.
"The language in these things is so nasty people are just turned off by it," Lafayette lawyer William Goode said.
In reality, his date was a special agent with the attorney general's office.