Sex Crimes

Police Trolling Personal Ads to Trick People Into Sex Crimes

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From CBS Sacramento, your daily example of the disgusting and perverse lengths law enforement will go to in order to catch "sex criminals." Yesterday it was Virginia cops taking pictures of a teen boy's junk to compare to the photos he'd texted his girlfriend, for which they were now prosecuting him for chlid pornography. Today brings us the story of California cops trolling online personal ads to trick lonely men into arranging dates with fake underage girls. 

Daniel Eugene Kirschner, 28, apparently placed an ad online saying he was looking for a girlfriend. He did not say he was looking for an underage girlfriend, mind you, nor did undercover Placer County cops pretend to be underage when they initially reached out to him. But after a while, the "girl" revealed that she was only 13.

After that, Kirschner continued the correspondance and eventually agreed to come to the county jail, where cops said she would be for her mom's boyfriend's court appearance. When Kirschner showed up, he was immediately arrested and charged with "communicating with a minor with the intent of committing a sexual act" and "attempted lewd and lascivious acts with someone under 14."

A lot of people would probably look at this and say, meh, he's a creep or a criminal and deserves it. He should have backed off when he found out she was 13. And, sure, he should have. But people are flawed. We don't know much about Kirschner, but we do know he was looking online (on what sounds like Craigslist, but the police are merely calling "a popular website) for a girlfriend. Maybe he was lonely, vulnerable, in a bad place. A female responds to his ad and seems friendly and eager (and probably quite mature, since she is actually a team of cops). She gains his trust and affection. Then she says she's only 13.

Under those circumstances, deciding to continue the relationship certainly reveals a lapse in judgement from our grown perp. But it doesn't necessarily reveal him as predatory or pedophilic. It doesn't even reveal that he would have gone through with any sexual activity with this alleged 13-year-old. To me the whole set-up seems similar to the undercover cops who befriend young people by pretending to be their age, goad them into selling them pot, then throw them in jail for it.

How is any of this not entrapment? And by what logic does it make sense to entice people into crimes they probably wouldn't otherwise commit just to arrest them for those crimes?

I'm serious about the entrapment question; the second one, I guess, is rhetorical. It makes sense when your job, budget, and prestige depend on making more arrests. I'm sure it's easier to arrest regular people you nudge into criminal-ish activity than people engaged in more stealth and serious criminal behavior. Cops get their 15-second soundbites about "sex traffickers" and "sexual predators" on the evening news, communities get to feel safe and like their cops are actually competent, and if some people and rights get thrown under the bus along the way, that's just the price of doing business. 

This isn't the first time this year that Placer County cops have gone undercover as a 13-year-old girl. Unlike "to catch a predator" plots past, they seem to be reaching out to men seeking girlfriends, rather than putting up ads from "teens" and seeing who responds. The department has also been busy with undercover operations to lure people into buying alcohol for minors

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  1. If I were in a position to make out state/municipal budgets, I would use a thing like this as evidence that the police department is overfunded. Also fun fact: the word overfunded triggers the spell check, but underfunded does not. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OVERFUNDED

  2. And the state demonstrates once again why I’ll stand and watch while any number of awful things happens to minors. No fucking way am I getting arrested for helping someone’s lost kid find their way home, or helping a teenager with a broken down car.

  3. “Kirschner continued the correspondance and eventually agreed to come to the county jail, where cops said she would be for her mom’s boyfriend’s court appearance.” holy shit what an idiot.

    1. If he’s that stupid, he must be distantly related to Cristina Kirchner.

    2. And apparently this is the fourth person who’s fallen for that line there.

      1. These guys aren’t smart enough to say, “why don’t I pick you up from school in my panel van?”

    3. Like the guy who would fall for this is the really dangerous predator they need to get off the street. Talk about low-hanging fruit.

      If they existed, it’s much more likely the mom’s boyfriend who’s busy with the 13-year-old.

    4. Clearly not the brightest bulb that’s for sure. But, if he was going to meet her at her mom’s boyfriend’s hearing, it would stand to reason that he thought her mom would be there too, thereby making it unlikely he had the intent to commit a sexual act.

      1. Yeah, well, the mom, AND A BUNCH OF COPS. It shouldn’t take the world’s greatest lawyer to introduce reasonable doubt that a man (who was neither a prisoner nor a cop) intended to commit a sex crime at the county jail.

  4. I’d say this is more similar than the FBI creating a fake terrorist attack, goading somebody into possibly joining it, and arresting them (and then using that arrest as evidence of how widespread terrorism is and how they need more funding)

    And the best part of both of them for the cops is that no politician would ever dare say the cops shouldn’t be doing those kinds of stings.

  5. Well, this is one where I’m caught between the predatory “law” enforcers, general creeps, and people who are dumber than bags of hammers. No one is really protected from clear and present danger, and tossing this bonehead in jail will cost money, so the taxpayers lose. The winners are the people who earn livings doing this and the people who run prisons/jails. Just like anything else “Big X”, Big LEO stinks to the rafters.

  6. How is any of this not entrapment?

    HE didn’t break any law. Unless he was resistant to showing up until she offered a sex act and he explicitly specified that as his reason for showing up, they’ve got no case.

    1. You don’t understand, if you are male and above the age of 17 years, 364 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, then it is a felony to look at a minor sideways.

      1. Somebody showed me this BabyMetal video,…

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIKqgE4BwAY

        …and the first thing I thought was that all 11 million of the people who’ve watched that video are probably under suspicion.

        1. I will never forgive you for that.

        2. god, I love japan and the never-ending supply of bizarre shit.

          Put your kitsune up and rock on!!!

    2. What do you bet that none of that matters and this guy goes away for a bit?

    3. Brett, that was my question:

      What crime did he commit, here?

      Emailing/texting a minor is perfectly legal.

      Saying you’ll meet a minor, at the jail, even, is perfectly legal.

      Showing up at the jail to meet a minor is perfectly legal.

      And that’s all he did.

      And we’re not even to the part where (a) no crime was possible, because there never was a minor, and (b) entrapment.

      1. “Saying you’ll meet a minor, at the jail, even, is perfectly legal.”

        Not 100% on that.

        I think you’re better sticking with the point that there was no minor involved.

        It was an adult pretending to be a minor.

        How can someone be convicted on a sex crime with a minor conspiracy charge if there is no minor involved?

        That’s like being convicted of murder despite the fact that no one died. If a cop pretends to die, does that make me guilty of murder?

        1. Yes.

          Just like if you buy fake drugs (even *knowing they’re fake) you’re still guilty of a crime.

          1. Maybe the law says you’re guilty of a crime–but if that’s what the law says, then the law is wrong.

            This is a great reason to have juries! If one out of twelve jurors can’t see through that, then we’re even worse off than I thought.

            We should really get on this issue if it’s something that happens a lot.

            It’s bad enough that we’re still locking people in cages on marijuana charges–if we’re locking people up on marijuana charges even when there is no actual marijuana involved? Then that’s a complete injustice–twice over.

            1. P.S.

              Locking people in cages for conspiring to meet with underage girls–who don’t actually exist–is likewise a complete injustice.

    4. he was immediately arrested and charged with “communicating with a minor with the intent of committing a sexual act” and “attempted lewd and lascivious acts with someone under 14.”

      Thoughtcrime, Brett L., thoughtcrime.

      1. From the CA Penal Code:

        288.4. (a) (1) Every person who, motivated by an unnatural or
        abnormal sexual interest in children, arranges a meeting with a minor
        or a person he or she believes to be a minor for the purpose of
        exposing his or her genitals or pubic or rectal area, having the
        child expose his or her genitals or pubic or rectal area, or engaging
        in lewd or lascivious behavior, shall be punished by a fine not
        exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), by imprisonment in a county
        jail not exceeding one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment.

        1. 288.2. (a) (1) Every person who knows, should have known, or
          believes that another person is a minor, and who knowingly
          distributes, sends, causes to be sent, exhibits, or offers to
          distribute or exhibit by any means, including by physical delivery,
          telephone, electronic communication, or in person, any harmful matter
          that depicts a minor or minors engaging in sexual conduct, to the
          other person with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying
          the lust or passions or sexual desires of that person or of the
          minor, and with the intent or for the purposes of engaging in sexual
          intercourse, sodomy, or oral copulation with the other person, or
          with the intent that either person touch an intimate body part of the
          other, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a
          county jail not exceeding one year, or is guilty of a felony,
          punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or
          five years.

          1. A number of sections of the CA Penal Code use similar language. It’s apparently enough to believe that you’re communicating with a minor, even if the minor doesn’t exist.

            1. Note: they still have to show that there was a sexual motivation. But there seems to be no problem (under CA law, at least) with the fact that no victim actually exists.

              Second note: doesn’t the notion that a victim must exist seem rather quaint? Welcome to the age of crimes against the state.

  7. Might be interesting to calculate what percentage of internet teens have a badge and gun.

  8. 28 years old, huh?

    I guess that makes this guy one of them thar sooper smart milleniuhhhhhls who is going to save the world with their contradictory attitudes/desires/beliefs.

  9. I’m trying to muster some sympathy for the guy but I can’t. Maybe he’s guilty of nothing more than being dumber than a bag of rocks. Then again, he went online looking for a girlfriend, then continued a correspondence with someone he believed to be 13. Whatever he was thinking, it wasn’t good.

    1. Yeah, but you don’t have to feel sympathy for him to feel anger that this is how cops are spending their time and resources.

      1. This is the main thing. Cops are supposed to be fighting crime, not manufacturing it.

      2. I don’t like the allocation of time and resources either. But it’s preferable by light years to a SWAT team busting down a door brandishing weapons and screaming conflicting orders because a snitch bought a dimebag there. Or seizing citizens’ property whether or not they have been accused of a crime. Or shooting dogs with impunity because FYTW.

        It will be a good day in America when a story like this is the worst thing we can say about the police.

    2. There’s lots of people I have no sympathy for.

      I would still prefer that none of them be arrested until they have actually committed an actual crime.

    3. According to his dad (so bring your salt grains), he is a tad dumb:

      “My son is not a pedophile,” he said. “He has mild cerebral palsy; he has ADD, Tourette’s; he’s got an IQ about 74; he’s got OCD. I mean he’s got a lot of things going on.”

      http://sacramento.cbslocal.com…..isability/

      1. What does that translate to in mental age? Probably about 13, right?

    4. Well what did he say? What did “she” say? Maybe he already felt a connection and enjoyed talking to “her” that he just wanted to continue the relationship in some way, without any sexual component. Or, perhaps, without a sexual component for another 3-5 years. It certainly seems creepy for an adult man to be friends with a teenage girl, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be an innocent relationship.

    5. Since we weren’t shown any of the contents of the e-mails, I can’t even say he was dumb. I might well have done the same thing, out of sympathy for the girl & her family. Like when I went to see the demented lady who thought I was her son & kept phoning me.

  10. The question of entrapment, like much criminal law, depends on which state you’re in.

    There are two types of entrapment defenses in the US: the subjective and the objective. Under the subjective test, the defendant has the burden of proving that he was not someone who had a predisposition to commit the alleged crime absent the police conduct. Under the objective test, the defendant has the burden of proving that the conduct of the police was such that it would have likely caused an otherwise law-abiding citizen to commit the alleged crime. The objective test is generally the one that courts favor.

    Though it should be pointed out that the early cases dealing with entrapment generally looked at the question of whether the government was the source of the criminal conduct. That is to say that they considered whether the crime committed had been thought up and, for lack of a better word, encouraged by the government. I’m not aware of any jurisdictions that still use that test as it would drastically limit the use of sting operations by the police.

  11. How is any of this not entrapment?

    Because entrapment is convincing someone to do something they would not have done without the convincing.

    This is … not that?

    Unless the fake-13-year-old tried to convince him to come get her while he was saying “no, wait, dude, you’re way underage”, there’s no entrapment.

    Giving people enough rope is not entrapment; saying “come on, man, take this awesome rope, it’s cool, come on, do it, do it” is.

    I’d expect better use of language and understanding of legal terms from Reason, except I’ve sadly learned better.

    (I agree that this is, as presented, a waste of resources and time on behalf of the police. But it’s not entrapment, and it’s not even “wrong”.

    I could see “wrong” if the cop had pretended to be just-barely-under the age of consent, especially if CA is an 18 state instead of a 16 state – I don’t know which it is. Wanting to sleep with a willing 17 year old isn’t obviously “wrong”, even when it’s illegal, and it’s legal enough places that one could honestly simply be confused about it.

    But 13 is “you cannot possibly not know that’s illegal and seriously dubious” anywhere in the US.)

    1. Because entrapment is convincing someone to do something they would not have done without the convincing.

      The conversation that he is being charged with would never have happened without the police luring him into it and convincing him to keep doing it.

      Looks like entrapment to me.

  12. The alleged crimes are:

    When Kirschner showed up, he was immediately arrested and charged with “communicating with a minor with the intent of committing a sexual act” and “attempted lewd and lascivious acts with someone under 14.”

    Since he never communicated with a minor, and never attempted lewd etc. acts with someone under 14, I just don’t see how he can be charged with this.

    Seems to me he’s got a perfectly good defense aside from impossibility; namely, that he didn’t believe the “girl” when she said she was 13 (because it was clear to him that the messages were coming from an adult, as in fact they were), and thought she was just doing some kind of fantasy/role-playing thing that he went along with.

    1. Yeah, you’d think it would be an easy defense. “Uh, your honor, I did not actually communicate with a minor. The prosecution has admitted as much. So… charge dismissed, right?”

      Unless they have damning words from him about performing lewd acts with the supposed minor, the other charge looks difficult to prove too.

      1. See my reply above. CA Penal Code only requires that the “offender” believe that the person was a minor.

  13. I think Adam Carolla had a bit about how real teens on the internet have the natural defense of being annoying and stupid. I doubt even cops can fake this convincingly.

    The guy was chatting with other adults, there never were any 13 year-olds involved. So, who’s the victim supposed to be? This case stinks.

    1. Its funny how he is being charged with crimes that specifically call for an identifiable victim, and no such victim exists.

      If nothing else, this distinguishes this kind case from a drug sting, as drug offenses are inherently victimless.

      1. Why the fuck are there crimes that don’t specifically call for an identifiable victim, by the way?

  14. “To me the whole set-up seems similar to the undercover cops who befriend young people by pretending to be their age, goad them into selling them pot, then throw them in jail for it.”

    Except in this case, as far as I can tell, there was no pot.

    If I sell you a a baggie of oregano–thinking it’s pot–can I be convicted for selling pot. How can I be convicted of selling someone pot if there was no pot–only oregano.

    There was no girl under the age of 14. For all we know, the only person he promised to meet was a fifty-something, balding cop with a beer belly. He didn’t conspire to do anything with a girl under 14.

    From this story, I don’t see that he ever corresponded with any girl under 14. There was no pot. The cake is a lie. The girl was a lie.

    1. Actually, I believe some states do have laws about drug lookalikes. Here’s one:

      [The law] creates a broader definition of synthetic drugs based on appearance. It gives police and prosecutors significant authority to label a product a “look-alike” drug if it visually resembles a product that contains a banned substance ? even if it doesn’t. Merchants selling those look-alike products can face drug trafficking charges and civil actions to seize their inventory and assets.

      Got that? You can be charged with drug trafficking even if you didn’t have any drugs.

      1. The law is wrong.

        That law should go before the Supreme Court.

        There’s no way they should be able to convict you of something everyone agrees you didn’t actually do.

        If I were on a jury, there’s no way I would ever convict someone of selling pot–when I knew that they never actually sold any pot.

        I maintain that there was no conspiracy to meet with an underage girl–because there was no underage girl.

        And, certainly, anybody who supports convicting people for the crime of communicating with young girls–that don’t actually exist–should never, never, never make fun of anyone religion.

        This should wash out in court. I don’t know that there’s a law anywhere that says you can’t convict someone of murder without proof that the murder victim is dead–maybe it’s just really hard to convict someone of murder (beyond a reasonable doubt) that way. …and I guess I’m fine with that.

        But if I’m on the jury, and you can’t produce the victimized girl–because she doesn’t exist? then you’re gonna have a really hard time getting me to convict someone beyond a reasonable doubt. I mean if the fact that the victim doesn’t exist isn’t sufficient reason for reasonable doubt, what is?

        1. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

          The fact remains – basically every state has laws making it illegal to sell a facsimile of a controlled substance, even if the buyer and seller both *know* its not a real controlled substance.

          Keep in mind – this is legal parsing. You won’t be charged with *pot* possession, you’ll be charged with possessing a facsimile of a controlled substance, a completely *different* charge.

          In the same way that there are *two* DUI charges – one is actually being impaired by alcohol and requires the prosecution to show evidence of impairment and the other is simply blowing over .08 on the breathalyzer and simply requires the prosecution to show the machine’s readout (and possibly, if your lawyer is on the ball, the machines calibration and the operator’s training certs).

        2. I don’t know that there’s a law anywhere that says you can’t convict someone of murder without proof that the murder victim is dead . . .

          Sure – except ‘proof that the murder victim is dead’ doesn’t mean that the prosecutor has to have a body.

          1. “Sure – except ‘proof that the murder victim is dead’ doesn’t mean that the prosecutor has to have a body.”

            Yeah, well there’s no body in this case either, and the prosecutor can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim is “dead”–because the victim doesn’t exist.

  15. Its amazing how mens rea works in modern judicial theory.

    If you had no intent to commit a crime well, fuck you, strict liability attaches and the prosecutor doesn’t have to show intent.

    If you *don’t* commit a crime well, fuck you, you *intended* to do so and that’s also good enough, the prosecutor *only* has to show intent.

  16. Entrapment is dirty police work, you can blame the needs of men or women as valid reasons for entrapment but that is hogwash. There is so much real crime to go after that they have no need to create more just because the results are so predictable. Go after the pimps, they are the human trash that makes dealing in human flesh possible. Hunt them down with a vengence and give some serious jail time, that would be some real police work. J. Clark

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