For a variety of reasons, few of them valid, the child-molester has become the pre-eminent domestic villain of our time. In 1998, in response to growing fears of sexual predation online, Congress provided funds for the Department of Justice to create the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC ) task force, which among other things provides federal grants to local police departments for programs to find and apprehend online predators.
In practice that means looking for people who potentially fit the mold—people who seem as if they might be poised to commit a crime even if they have not yet done so.
Both the policewoman and her target give the author their versions of the truth, in a case that challenges the conventional wisdom about online sexual predators, and blurs the lines among crime, “intent,” and enticement.
Detective Michele Deery works in a cubicle in the basement of the Delaware County courthouse, in Media, Pennsylvania.
Deery would begin a dialogue, dangling the illicit possibility, gauging how serious her mark was.
There were “players,” those who were just horny and despicable, and there were doers, or at least potential doers, the true bad guys.
As a fantasy, her come-on seemed overbaked—not one daughter, but two!
It is doubtful that such a woman exists anywhere, and yet men fell for it. The bulletin board over her desk displays mug shots of her catches, very ordinary-looking men, facing the camera wide-eyed with shock, staring at the fresh ruin of their lives. One of the stunned faces in that array belongs to a man I will call “J,” who would spend a year in prison after taking Deery’s bait.
A burly, round-faced man of 42, with a thickly muscled neck and shoulders, thinning hair, and a goatee, he was seated before the computer in their living room in a small, two-story town house in suburban Philadelphia.She received three quick instant messages from someone using the name “parafling”: Entrapment has long been a factor in the enforcement of vice laws, which seek to punish behavior that is furtive and widespread.Such ordinances answer society’s quest for moral clarity, positing a direct parallel between right versus wrong and legal versus criminal.He had immediately tapped her with three messages, and she had responded: The sun blazed in from the window to his back porch.J had about an hour before his wife would be home from work.