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Other examples include undercover officers showing interest in a man then later introducing the idea of having sex with the agent's "child." If the men indicate they aren't interested, many still were arrested for talking to the adult.Critics of the stings say the operations make for better press conferences than crime fighting.He said he was sure she was an adult — she was — so he made plans to meet her. He later was sentenced to two years of house arrest and a lifetime as a registered sex offender."He had a life of promise. "That's all been shot."Internet Crimes Against Children stings typically cost tens of thousands of dollars — sometimes close to 0,000 — and that doesn't include prosecuting and incarcerating defendants.Light sentences sometimes are offered because suspects aren't considered dangerous offenders, contrary to Judd's claims.But Judd has been much less forthcoming on how detectives lure targets and whether innocent men are getting swept up.Judd has failed to provide information on the following issues, which are considered public records under Florida's Sunshine law:• The language in the ads that detectives post.• How detectives respond when innocent men show no interest in speaking to teens.• Whether they see a problem of teens looking for adults online.• How many men detectives contact before finding someone to investigate. — In the decade since Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator" segments popularized Internet sex stings, more than 1,200 men in Florida have been arrested, accused of preying on underage teens and children for sex. — In the decade since Dateline NBC's To Catch a Predator segments popularized Internet sex stings, more than 1,200 men in Florida have been arrested, accused of preying on underage teens and children for sex.
But when Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd was asked about overly aggressive detectives, he went on the offensive."The concern (I have) is that you inflate your investigative reporting to make it glitzy," he said.Judges also have been critical of some tactics used in the stings, which violate Internet Crimes Against Children guidelines.Among the judges' comments in recent entrapment decisions: The judge in one dismissed case criticized the undercover officer for failing to follow procedures, saying "the officer controlled the tone, pace and subject matter of online conversation, pushing toward a discussion of sexual activity."Defense lawyer Anthony Ryan, who has a practice in Sarasota, Fla., just got a 23-year-old client's case dismissed in Manatee, Fla.Instead, they were looking for other adults when detectives started to persuade them to break the law.Detectives used to post ads suggesting that an underage teen or child was available for sex but now routinely post more innocuous personal ads of adults on traditional dating sites.
"They may do something physically against a young little kid."But predator stings are still alive in central Florida, operating under Judd, who is head of the Florida Sheriff's Task Force on Internet crimes against children.