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Judges differ in interpretation of earlier ruling

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A panel of Indiana Court of Appeals judges disagreed today as to whether a man's convictions of attempted sexual misconduct with a minor and attempted dissemination of matter harmful to minors should be reversed because his intended victim was actually a police officer conducting an online sting operation.

In Randy Gibbs v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0712-CR-1017, the majority determined in light of Alpin v. State, 889 N.E.2d 882 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008), two of Randy Gibbs' convictions should be overturned. Gibbs had communicated over the Internet with someone that he believed to be a 15-year-old girl, had graphic sexual conversations with her, sent her illicit pictures, and then arranged to meet her at an apartment complex. Gibbs was arrested at the apartment complex and had brought rope and condoms with him.

The majority affirmed his conviction of child solicitation, but reversed his other two convictions based on the wording of the statutes for those crimes. The majority disagreed with the state's argument that Alpin was decided incorrectly, noting that it had to be decided correctly since the Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer. Citing Alpin, the majority noted that to be convicted of child solicitation, a person has to "believe" the victim is a child whereas to be convicted of sexual misconduct with a child requires the victim to be a child.

As a result of the ruling in Alpin, the majority in the instant case concluded that attempted sexual misconduct with a minor also requires the intended victim be a child. They noted that if the General Assembly wanted to penalize defendants for attempting to commit the offense when the victim is actually an adult the defendant believed to be a minor, it could have chosen similar language as used in the child solicitation statute, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik.

Judge Melissa May dissented, finding the attempt statute to be applicable in this case, which provides that impossibility is not a defense. Gibbs intended to have sex with a minor and did all he could to complete the offense, but failed because it wasn't possible under the circumstances since he was part of an online sting operation, wrote the judge. Judge May doesn't believe the General Assembly would have intended to prevent prosecution under the sexual misconduct with a minor statute when the defendant erroneously believed the victim was a minor. She would affirm Gibbs' convictions, finding sufficient facts to support each of them.

Judge May also noted that the Supreme Court's denial of transfer has no precedential value or legal effect other than to terminate the litigation between the parties and doesn't imply the high court's agreement with the Court of Appeals in a ruling.

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  1. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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