Last week authorities in Ohio were trying to decide if they would file federal charges against a 49-year-old Pennsylvania man accused of trying to set up a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old boy. The man was being held on a charge of importuning with a telecommunications device, and if a federal prosecutor decides to take up the case, then the possible penalties will increase significantly.
The sheriff in Jefferson County, Ohio, said the 13-year-old in question told his father about an alleged encounter with the suspect, and the father and son went to the sheriff's department for an interview. An agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation then pretended to be the 13-year-old boy and was allegedly in contact with the suspect, who is from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
Investigators say the accused man travelled from his home in Pennsylvania to Ohio, and law enforcement agents were waiting on him. He was arrested and later appeared in court, where the judge granted a $25,000 bond.
State and federal authorities also searched the man's home, and the local sheriff in Ohio claimed that investigators found pornographic material in the residence, though the nature of that material wasn't disclosed.
It remains to be seen whether the man will face federal charges. In any case, allegations of using a computer or a cellphone to commit a sexual crime are very serious. Often charges of Internet crimes carry a federal status, meaning that defendants could face lengthy prison sentences if prosecutors are successful.
Still, it is important to remember that anyone accused of a crime, no matter how serious, must be presumed innocent unless or until the prosecution proves otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt. Law enforcement personnel at every level do make mistakes, and a strong criminal defense will analyze the facts of the case to achieve the best possible outcome for the defendant.
Source: hsconnect.com, "Pennsylvania man charged with importuning appears in court," Dave Gossett, Oct. 23, 2013