FBI Agents Arrest Three Pennsylvania Men Attempting to Solicit Sex from Minors
It is said that the Internet brings out everyone’s worst self; it is also said that there are no secrets online. Thus, adults attempting to contact minors online for purposes of exploiting them sexually can easily be found out by law enforcement. In the online environment, where anonymity emboldens the worst sides of people’s personalities, and where time-stamped screenshots don’t lie, it is easier than ever for local police or federal agents to catch adults using online messaging services and social media to lure children and teenagers into sexual situations. In recent weeks, the FBI has undertaken a sting operation in the Pittsburgh area to find men attempting to solicit sex from minors, and so far, their efforts have led to three arrests. If you want to know more about the legal issues surrounding online solicitation of minors, contact a Pittsburgh Internet sex crimes attorney.
Protecting Children and Adolescents from Sexual Abuse
In Pennsylvania, sexual activity between a person 18 years old or older and a person younger than sixteen is almost always illegal. (The only exceptions are “Romeo and Juliet laws,” which deal more leniently with relationships between teens who are a few years apart in age.) The laws about sex crimes involving minors extend far beyond incidents where there is physical contact. The age of consent in Pennsylvania is sixteen, which means that people younger than sixteen are considered legally incapable of consenting to sexual activity or sexual situations. Thus, even engaging in sexually suggestive banter online with a person younger than sixteen is illegal if you are eighteen or older, even if the younger person appears to be a willing participant in the banter. You can face even harsher penalties if you ask the younger person to meet you in person.
In the News
An online sting operation has led to three men being arrested for online sexual solicitation of minors.
- Brian Turek of Brookline is being held without bail after he asked an online chat partner to meet him for sex. The partner was an FBI agent pretending to be a 13-year-old boy. Turek has been denied bail because he already has a record of child molestation; his three children have protective orders against him.
- Joseph Hamilton of North Side went to Station Square to meet the person with whom he had been exchanging text messages. He thought he had been communicating with a teen boy, but FBI agents met him and arrested him when he arrived.
- Thomas Stultz of Bellevue was arrested at Heinz Field. He also was there to meet an online chat partner that he thought was a teen boy.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
The Internet makes it easier to break the law and easier to get caught, but the rights of defendants remain the same online or offline. Don’t hesitate to reach out to dedicated Pittsburgh Internet sex crimes attorney Gary E. Gerson if you need assistance with your case.
In Pennsylvania, Attempted Acts of Sexual Exploitation Are Illegal, Even When There Is No Physical Contact