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Men took substantial steps to commit crime

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals addressed the same issue in two separate Indiana cases of men chatting on the Internet with people they believed to be teen girls: whether there was evidence the men had taken "substantial steps" toward committing the crimes of enticing a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Donald Zawada and Derek Davey appealed their convictions of violating 18 U.S.C. Section 2422(b) - knowingly persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing a person under the age of 18 to engage in criminal sexual activity. In both cases, the men had been conversing online with undercover police whom they believed were underage girls. Both men had sexual conversations with the "girls" and discussed meeting; Davey actually made the drive to where he believed the girl lived.

The federal appellate court examined its recent decision in United States v. Gladish, 536 F.3d 646 (7th Cir. 2008), to determine the men had taken substantial steps toward committing the crimes. Gladish held that mere talk in an Internet chat room couldn't support a conviction under Section 2422(b), but more concrete steps are necessary, such as arranging a meeting, buying gifts, or "grooming" someone for a sexual relationship.

In United States v. Donald Zawada, No. 08-1012, Zawada had a conversation about making a date to meet with who he thought was an underage girl and discussed a specific time and day, but the meeting never happened. He also had several conversations with the "girl," which could have been considered grooming her for a sexualized relationship, wrote Judge Diane Wood.

Zawada claimed he wasn't the person associated with the screen names linked to the explicit conversations, but the jury found he had committed a substantial step toward completing the offense and that he was the one chatting with the alleged girl.

Davey's case is similar to Zawada's except that Davey originally pleaded guilty to the charges but later tried to withdraw his appeal. In United States v. Derek S. Davey, No. 07-3533, Davey was arrested in Northern Indiana after he had driven to a restaurant to call the "girl" he had been speaking to about making arrangements to sneak into her house. Before sentencing, Davey retained a new attorney and tried to have his plea thrown out; the District Court denied his motion to withdraw.

On appeal, he argued that he pleaded guilty to something that isn't an offense under Section 2422(b), and that is enough to invalidate his plea, wrote Judge Wood. The 7th Circuit found Davey's admissions in his plea agreement go "a long way" toward meeting the substantial step criteria established in Gladish - he made arrangements to meet with the "girl" he was chatting with and he drove to meet her at a pre-arranged spot.

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  1. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  2. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  3. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

  4. Why do so many lawyers get away with lying in court, Jamie Yoak?

  5. 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.

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