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No Bail for Wisconsin Cop Nabbed for Sex Chat With Teen

Snapchat and Facebook exchanges with a 15-year-old have Wisconsin officer Basil O'Kimosh facing life in prison.

FRANCK LODI/SIPA/NewscomFRANCK LODI/SIPA/NewscomBasil O'Kimosh, a former cop in Green Bay, Wisconsin, faces federal charges for exchanging sexually explicit Snapchat messages with a teenage girl he met on Facebook. If convicted, the 39-year-old man faces 25 years to life in prison.

According to FBI Agent Sarah Deamron, O'Kimosh began interacting with the girl last January through Facebook Messenger; in April he asked if he could contact her on Snapchat. The contact continued through October. At first O'Kimosh did not know the girl was only 15, but continued to discuss sexual topics with her after learning her age, "repeatedly requesting through the Snapchat application" that they meet for sexual activity. When investigators impersonated the girl on November 1, O'Kibosh asked "her" to send an explicit photo. He also asked to meet for oral sex and, when "she" agreed, showed up at place they had arranged.

O'Kimosh was charged in a complaint filed last Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. On Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge James R. Sickel ordered O'Kimosh be held in a federal corrections facility pending trial, based on his "potential risk of flight due to the significant sentence that may be imposed if convicted" and on the fact that the alleged offenses happened while he was on duty as a Menominee Tribal Police officer.

"The Court finds the information set forth by the defense is not sufficient to rebut the presumption of detention and no set or combination of conditions would assure the safety of the community," wrote Sickel.

While it's refreshing to see a cop get held accountable for a change, calling O'Kimosh a threat to community safety seems a bit melodramatic. No adult, especially not one sworn to uphold the law, should be sexting with a teenager, let alone propositioning one. But considering the kinds of things that cops in this country frequently get away with—murder, sexual assault, physical abuse, actual sex with minors—the severe concern in this case rings either a bit paranoid or a bit hollow.

The feds didn't step in, for instance, when dozens of cops were under investigation for sexting and having sex with an underage girl in Oakland, California. Or when a Chicago cop was arrested for trafficking a 14-year-old. Or in the recent case of a Bronx officer arrestd for paying to make sex tapes with a minor. And I could go on.

But U.S. prosecutors have been big lately on exercising jurisdiction over both social media and sexting, and these have also been the subject of much attention in Congress lately. All of this helps suggest the decision to make this a federal matter is based more on opportunism and political agendas than the severity of O'Kimosh's crime or his threat to the public.

The federal government has been exercising increasing control over sex-crime-related matters of all sorts lately. But getting the feds involved in cases like these is generally an awful idea (though O'Kimosh's position as a cop on a tribal reservation may have posed some special considerations here). Not only does it take away from matters that can't be handled by local law enforcement, but it subjects those convicted to incredibly harsh prison sentences. And that should concern you even if the plight of someone like O'Kimosh really doesn't, because pushing prison time above and beyond what's required for public safety and/or rehabilitation is how we exacerbate America's mass incarceration problem.

Notably, O'Kibosh doesn't face child pornography charges. Instead, he's charged under lesser-used federal statutes related to sexual exploitation of children, obscenity, and immoral travel (the Mann Act)—offenses related to recent congressional bills on warrantless email snooping, police wiretapping, and online publishing, among other things. A bill in the Senate expands the authorities' power to use wiretapping in cases that involve the Mann Act, obscenity, and sexting with a minor. And the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA)—a misleadingly named bill that actually hinders efforts to stop sexual exploitation—would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to deny legal immunity to websites and services whose sites were found to enable certain sex crimes.

SESTA is fraudulently sold as a way to target only "bad" sites like Backpage, and this week Facebook joined several other tech giants in supporting it. But as the O'Kimosh case (and so many others I've encountered) illustrate, it's not only ad sites like Backpage and Craigslist, or explicitly adult-oriented sites, where Americans advertise, find one another, communicate, and arrange to meet for sexual activity that violates local, state, and federal laws. In cases like this one, Facebook and Snapchat could very easily find themselves on the hook for sex crimes right along with their more demonized digital counterparts.

Photo Credit: FRANCK LODI/SIPA/Newscom

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    While it's refreshing to see a cop get held accountable for a change, calling O'Kimosh a threat to community safety seems a bit melodramatic.

    OMG. Is there no lengths to which you Reason writers will go to be contrarian?

  • ALWAYS RIGHT||

    My, aren't you the chivalrous one. The cop belongs in prison for the rest of his life for being a cop. Cop-suckers belong in prison with him.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Basil O'Kimosh

    That's not a real name...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I know you were thinking OshKosh B'gosh when you read that.

  • Jerryskids||

    Isn't this what got Weiner into trouble? I don't recall him being threatened with life in prison, but then again he wasn't in a position of trust and authority like a cop so maybe that's the reason for the higher standard.

  • CE||

    So are we supposed to be glad because a cop is finally facing justice like a regular citizen, or upset because the penalty for this crime is too steep for everyone?

  • ALWAYS RIGHT||

    We are supposed to be outraged because we live in a country where the vast majority respect laws and law enforcement that is morally wrong.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    But considering the kinds of things that cops in this country frequently get away with—murder, sexual assault, physical abuse, actual sex with minors...

    If he had sexted this teen in the line of duty, or on his way home after his shift when he's in that magical "off-duty" role, then he would get bail. However, we will have to wait to see if will work his defense that not texting the girl made him fear for his life.

  • John||

    I am sorry but there is no way in hell sexting with a teenager justifies 25 years to life in prison. I am not saying it should not be a crime. But that is a completely unjust sentence for it. I don't care if this guy is a cop or an Indian Chief, that is not right. And Reason should say that because it would in any other circumstance.

  • ALWAYS RIGHT||

    I am saying that sexting a teen should not be a crime. Don't be fooled by that age of innocence crap. She is at that age when she is experimenting with sex and drugs. She is perfecting seduction that will send lives into sin and degradation. If the truth was known, she started the whole affair with nude transmissions of her own.

  • Hugh Akston||

    So what laws did he actually violate before the whole entrapment sting operation?

  • John||

    According to FBI Agent Sarah Deamron, O'Kimosh began interacting with the girl last January through Facebook Messenger; in April he asked if he could contact her on Snapchat. The contact continued through October. At first O'Kimosh did not know the girl was only 15, but continued to discuss sexual topics with her after learning her age, "repeatedly requesting through the Snapchat application" that they meet for sexual activity. When investigators impersonated the girl on November 1, O'Kibosh asked "her" to send an explicit photo. He also asked to meet for oral sex and, when "she" agreed, showed up at place they had arranged.

    So he talks to the girl for months and miraculously says the magic words and asks her for a naked picture and to meet him for sex the day the FBI agent starts impersonating the girl. Well, that is just an amazing coincidence isn't MJ?

    Remember, the FBI couldn't be bothered to do anything about the little freak in Texas or the guy who murdered all those people in Orlando. They were just too busy to do anything even though they knew about both and both men did everything but send out a Facebook announcement about their coming mass murder. But, they had time to troll some loser talking to a teenager on snapchat.

  • Chipper Morning Truthjammer||

    The law of not being a Blue Life anymore.

  • John||

    I don't care that this guy is a cop. This sort of crap is wrong. There is no way what he did should be a federal crime. I am not sure it should even be a crime. Maybe if he showed real intention to do it, but not for talking about it or proposing it. I don't even buy that you could ever definitely prove he thought she was 15. No one is who they claim they are on the internet. I think as a matter of law there is reasonable doubt that he figured the person on the other end was lying and was just role playing here.

    Even if you do believe he is guilty of a crime, no way in hell does it warrant a long prison sentence. And that is beyond the entrapment issues here. I don't believe for a moment the FBI agent didn't bring up sex and entrap this guy.

  • Eidde||

    Starting on p. 431 of this 1858 treatise, we see a consensus, going back to the Founding, that there is a right to bail in noncapital cases (and even in capital cases the proof guilt must be strong before bail can be denied).

    The U. S. Constitution does not have a comparable provision, saying only that if there's going to be bail, it must be reasonable.

    But wait, what about the Ninth Amendment and its reference to rights "retained by the people"? The feds can't take away those rights simply because they're not listed in the Bill of rights.

    So I say - this is a noncapital case, the accused has a right to bail. Call it a "Ninth Amendment right" if you want, but I don't think such terminology is strictly accurate.

  • John||

    Good point. He does have a right to bail.

  • ALWAYS RIGHT||

    Fuck you and your Libertarian rights. The only right that people have is the right to be treated the same way that they would treat others if they had the chance.

  • Eidde||

    I mean, it's all very well to preach about "innocent until proven guilty," but what do we do when an accused person, charged - yet not convicted - with Bad Things - asks for bail? Does innocent until proven guilty mean what it says, or not? Or is it just 4th of July oratory to be stuck back in storage for the rest of the year?

  • ALWAYS RIGHT||

    The system is a rigged hierarchy for the ruling class. The Bill of Rights has always been an elaborate sham. If you don't believe me, ask a Native American.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    He entitled to reasonable bail under the Constitution.

  • Sigivald||

    No adult, especially not one sworn to uphold the law, should be sexting with a teenager, let alone propositioning one

    You might want to rephrase that.

    Because 18 and 19 year olds are both adults and teenagers, just to start with; I assume you don't mean that "18 years old shouldn't be propositioning their peers"?

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