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COA tackles 2 issues of first impression

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The Indiana Court of Appeals addressed two new issues in a child solicitation and prostitution case regarding authenticating emails and text messages and whether the defendant’s actions actually constituted a crime.

Matthew Pavlovich appealed his convictions of Class D felony child solicitation and Class A misdemeanor patronizing a prostitute. The charges stem from his interactions with S.Y. and her now-husband and “pimp,” Bradford Pugh. Pavlovich communicated with S.Y. through the email “golfnutmi” and a cell phone with the last four digits 2662.

When he met with S.Y. to have sex with her, S.Y. mentioned she had a 9-year-old sister, P.Y. Pavlovich suggested S.Y. and P.Y. perform sex acts on each other. S.Y. and Pugh went to police with the texts and emails Pavlovich sent regarding P.Y. He was eventually charged and convicted based on those communications.

His appeal, Matthew Pavlovich v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1308-CR-715, brings up two issues of first impression. The first is the admissibility of text or email messages where there is a complete lack of technological or documentary evidence linking a party to a particular cell number or email address. The phone Pavlovich used is registered under a different name to an address in the middle of the highway. There is also no evidence connecting Pavlovich to the email address except for when he gave it to S.Y.

The appellate court ruled the circumstantial evidence is sufficient to authenticate the texts and emails as being authorized by Pavlovich, so they were properly introduced into evidence and authenticated as being written by him. S.Y. testified that Pavlovich was the man who hired her and had sex with her on the date, she recognized his voice and that they communicated through that number and email.

Pavlovich was entitled to – and did – argue that there was insufficient evidence that he wrote the messages, but the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting them into evidence.

The case also presents for the first time the question of whether it is a crime under Ind. Code 35-42-4-6(b), the statute governing child solicitation, for a person to direct communications to an intermediary who the person believes is passing the communications on to the child or is acting on behalf of the child.

“Certainly communicating through an intermediary, as was done here, satisfies the ‘any other means’ method of child solicitation,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote in the majority opinion.

The majority affirmed his convictions.

Judge Michael Barnes dissented on this issue, disagreeing that Pavlovich completed the act of child solicitation under the circumstances of this case. He pointed out that he never directly communicated with P.Y., instead, urged S.Y. to urge P.Y. to engage in a sex act with her, but S.Y. never did so. As such, no illicit communications ever reached a child under 14 years old or a person pretending to be a child, so the child solicitation conviction must be reversed.

 

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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