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Online solicitation of a teenager leads to arrest in Maryland

A man in Maryland is going to be spending five years in prison now because he allegedly tried to seduce a police officer pretending to be a 13-year-old online. The 53-year-old man had already been registered as a sex offender in the state, but now he has entered an Alford plea in Montgomery County's Circuit Court. He was charged with one count of using a communications system to propose a sexual act to a child younger than 15.

That plea, although it sounds like it admits guilt, does not admit that the man was participating in the online solicitation of a minor. However, it does acknowledge that it's likely there was enough evidence to find him guilty. A summary of evidence had shown that a detective was posing as a 13-year-old girl and her mother. Over time, the man allegedly offered to take care of the girl and her mother financially. Then, the chats became sexual in nature, and the man allegedly proposed sexual acts to the 13-year-old girl. He allegedly claimed that 13 was not too young.

What was interesting is that when the phone number the man gave to the detective was searched, everything he had told the detective was true. The phone number did link back to a car shop in Maryland, like he had said, and the man's image was even the same as the one on the sex offender database. The gifts the man had allegedly sent to the "girl" also had return addresses that linked to the car shop where he was a manager.

As a defense, the man entered a plea agreement. He will be spending five of the 10 years he was sentenced to in prison. Five years of the 10-year sentence were suspended. Fortunately, due to the man's defense, his plea protects him from any further punishments in the case and doesn't force him to admit guilt.

Source: The Roanoke Times, "Md. sex offender gets 5 years after Christiansburg Internet sting" Melissa Powell, Jun. 23, 2014

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