Our client was a 23-year-old computer engineer who had recently moved here from India to obtain his Master’s degree. He was using the dating app Plenty of Fish to meet girls and wound up getting arrested in an Internet sex sting operation conducted by the Georgia ICAC Task Force.
He started using the dating app about a month after his long-time girlfriend broke up with him. He responded to a profile of a girl who was very attractive and stated she was 19 years old. This profile was actually set up by the agents conducting the sting operation. At some point during their conversation, the “girl” told our client that she was only 14 years old.
It was obvious from his response that he initially did not believe her. He said, “You are 14?? Are these your real pictures?” They eventually began texting and even spoke on the phone. He stated that her voice sounded like she was at least 25 years old.
He agreed to go meet the “girl” and was arrested by the agents when he arrived at her house. The case was then indicted in Gwinnett County Superior Court.
We began by sending our client for a polygraph to confirm that he had never had sex with a minor, or solicited a minor online, in the past. We then sent him for a psychosexual evaluation to confirm that he did not have a sexual interest in children.
We conducted a thorough investigation into the sting operation and learned that an alarming number of young people, several with mental health issues, had been arrested. In our dealings with our client, we began to believe that he too was suffering from mental deficiencies despite the fact that he was a very intelligent and successful engineer.
As a result, we sent him for another evaluation where it was determined that he suffered from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There have been many recent studies that have found a connection between ASD and online sexual offenses. It has also been found that those suffering from ASD are more vulnerable to these internet sting operations as they do not pick up on social cues, typically have limited sexual experience, and have overall social and communication deficiencies that make them prime targets for the agents in these cases.
We presented all of these findings to the prosecutors and were ultimately able to convince them that our client’s case should be dismissed. In addition to the dismissal, the arrest will be removed from his record.
For more information on how we defend these cases, please visit our page on Internet Sting Operations.