It broke in the news last week: A detective in the Boulder Police Department seemingly warned a suspect in an Internet Luring of a Child sting operation. Sting operations are common across Colorado, in Denver, Adams, and Jefferson County. Police officers pose as underage girls, and work to gather evidence against the person with whom they are communicating. Once enough evidence is gathered, the person is arrested and charged with an internet sex crime such as Internet Luring, or Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child. It is highly unusual for a police detective on a sting operation unit to warn a suspect. Let's take a look at what might have happened.
Detective Warns Suspect in Internet Luring Case
According to reports, a young man placed an ad on Craigslist for an intimate partner who enjoyed bondage and would participate in other kinky behaviors. He didn't state that he specifically wanted a young girl, but a police officer spotted the listing, and responded, pretending to be a 13-year-old girl. The young man responded and didn't have a problem with her age – and the sting operation began. The suspect and the undercover officer exchanged over 700 text and computer messages over the next few days –some of which described “explicit sexual conduct,” which is a necessary element for an Internet Luring conviction. The next step of the sting operation was planned: Boulder Police Department detectives would arrange a meeting where they would arrest the suspect and charge him with the sex offense. But, something went wrong for the operation – the young man texted the undercover cop, saying he had been warned to not get together. He had received an email saying “Warning!!! Do not meet today w/ 13 YOA girl!!” The suspect thought the email had come from the girl's parents. But, when the police department tracked down the origin of the letter, they discovered it had been sent by one of their own: A veteran Boulder County police detective who worked with the Internet Crimes Against Children task force. The detective denies he sent the email – he says he left his email account open, and someone used it to warn the suspect.[pullquote align=”center” textalign=”center” width=”80%”]Allegedly, the detective warned the suspect by email.[/pullquote]
Why Would a Detective Warn a Suspect?
While we don't know why a police detective would warn a suspect in an Internet Luring sting operation, we do know the nature of those sting operations, which could offer an insight into his motives. We have defended many good people who were trapped by the police in a sting operation. Let's look closer at this case to see what I mean.
Original Posting Wasn't for an Underage Girl
The original Craigslist posting didn't mention the young man was looking specifically for an underage girl. He didn't respond correctly when he believed the responder to be 13 years old, but he wasn't looking for it specifically.
This is a Victimless Crime
Many people don't realize it, but crimes like Internet Luring of a Child are “victimless crimes.” No one is hurt or victimized when a sting operation results in someone being charged with a serious sex offense.
Caught by a Police Sting? Why You Need a Lawyer
If a person is convicted of Internet Luring of a Child in Arapahoe, El Paso, or Douglas County, they will be required to register as a sex offender and go through sex offender treatment. While this may seem like a good way to “protect the public,” it is important to understand that they will receive the same treatment as a person who actually harmed a child. Let me put it more simply: A person will receive the same treatment for being convicted of a victimless crime as a person who actually molested a child. We can't say for sure, but we imagine the Boulder police detective most likely grew weary of convicting men of victimless crimes, only to have them sit in prison and receive unjust and unfair treatment.Request a Free Consultation