Your ABC reports that a 26
year old man spent four days chatting via Internet to what he thought was a
13-year old girl. They arranged to meet (apparently for sex). To his
disappointment, the 13-year old girl turned out to be an (apparently much
older) undercover police officer, who arrested him and charged him with ...?
It's not clear what this man's crime is. It is clear that he is
kind of person who would like to have sex with a 13 year old
girl, and many decent-minded people may think this is reason enough to lock him
in a cell with another sexual pervert who is bigger than he is, but it's not
clear what his crime is. He may have thought he was going to have sex with an
underage girl, but he wasn't. Ever. It wasn't going to happen. There was no 13
year old girl. She didn't exist.
She only existed in his head - as an (admittedly sick) fantasy created by
the police officer.
He pleaded guilty to 'using the Internet with intent to procure a child
for sex'. So the crime is the intent, but not the action. Does
that mean that if a man believed his partner was 18, when she was in
fact 13, that he would innocent because there was no intent. Does
something become a crime when there is actual damage, or intent to cause
damage? Both maybe? What if there is no intent to do damage (if the pervert
actually believed that his desires would be beneficial for the 13 year old?
So the crime becomes intent to do something which other people
believe would be harmful. But someone with all the facts in this case would
know that no such damage would ever occur (because there was no 13 year old).
This is all a bit Zen for us concrete thinkers. We may have rid the
Internet of sick predator, but maybe the best way to applaud this man's
conviction is with the sound of one hand clapping.