Articles & Books

Useful articles on Internet Sex Sting Operations and related:

  • Defending the Internet Sex Sting Case – A 2010 article by Anthony J. Colleluori on these cases as published in GP Solo (Volume 27, Issue 1) by the American Bar Association. One of the better articles on the internet. Summary: These are very difficult!
  • The Ins and Outs of Sex Sting Cases – Article by lawyer Tim Baldwin which was updated in 2018.
  • Reforming the Registry – Most caught in sing operations will end up having to register as a sex offender (SO). There is a lot of push to reform these laws. This is a 2014 Slate article.
  • Sex Offender Management Policy in the States – Article by The Council of State Governments from 2010 on SO Policy. Briefing from Jan 2007. A Briefing from Fall 2008.
  • ICAC: A Matrix and Summary of Major Federal and State Select State Case Law – 2009 Report, over 200 pages.
  • The Ethics Surrounding Seattle Police’s Massage Parlor Sex Sting Operation – 2016 Blog on questionable police tactics relating to a prostitution sting. These operations can generate A LOT of revenue. Fines are $1.5k for first offense and can be higher and they often catch 100-200 “John’s” in these operations.
  • False Arrest and Shaming in Florida – Article by Mike Masnick on How Florida Police Falsely Arrest & Shame Men As Child Sexual Predators, Steal Their Cars… Then Try To Hide The Records
  • Sting Statistics in Florida (2011-2013) – A news investigation showed 194 arrests with 147 being convicted, 51% received < 1 year in jail. 80% required to register as sex offenders
  • Florida Sting Operation Complaint – A 64 page document with details from Florida Law, ICAC Operational Standards, Newspaper article and letter of complaint to Attorney General Holder to stop these ICAC Sting operations. Put together in 2014. A second copy is here in case original link goes bad.
  • Entrapped! When Craigslist predator stings go too far – A 2013 article on someone who was entrapped in sting operation.
  • How law enforcement turns law-abiding men into sexual predators – A December 2014 Tampa News station (Channel 10) investigation of Sex Stings by Noah Pransky.
  • Officers accused of bending rules on sex sting arrests – Similar to article above but posted on USA Today. Posted in August 2014.
  • The Dirtiest Trick Used to Entrap Internet Sting Targets – Written in June of 2014 on a Criminal Law Blog. There are a few other good links in the article.
  • Internet stings: Does the fantasy defense hold water? – Psychology Today article from 2012.
  • The Truth About the Biggest U.S. Sex Trafficking Story of the Year – Article written by Elizabeth Brown in 2016 about sex trafficking in Washington State. A little off topic and long.
  • Sting Operations – A DOJ funded research document: Problem-Oriented Guides for Police. Covers all types of Stings and also talks about entrapment issues. I like the conclusion: Sting operations can be expensive, are demanding on personnel, and generally offer limited relief from recurring crime and disorder problems.
  • The Shame Game – A 2016 article by Suzy Khimm and published in New Republic. This is a prostitution bust out of New York which shamed over 100 people publicly. In the end 85 plead guilty, 6 were acquitted and 7 cases were dismissed. Of the 104 men only one was convicted in a trial.
  • New Technology, Old Defenses: Internet Sting Operations and Attempt Liability – A 2004 article by Audrey Rogers taking about these child internet sting operations and how they have grown (and this is 13+ years ago). Talks about legal impossibility defense (often not allowed), fantasy defense, assess attempted liability and touches on substantial step.
  • Lessons Learned About The Wolf in Childs Clothing, Internet Sting Operations – Written by Robert H. Featherston from Law Offices of Taylor & Correa back in 2004. Focuses on Texas Law talks about fees, defense, cases, etc. Around 92 pages long.
  • Why Craigslist’s ‘Casual Encounters’ Is A Bad Spot To Catch Predators – A 2013 Forbes article by Eric Goldman. Craigslist is one of the most common places sting operations target; find out why it is a bad spot to catch Predators. (Update: Person noted in article did get a chance at a second trial and lost that, also lost appeal. From 2013 Appeal/Win – People v. Villapando, From 2016 Appeal/Lose – People v. Villapando
  • ICAC Case Law – From Assistant State Attorney out of Broward County Florida. Published in Sept. 2017. This document is 64 pages and references a lot of cases briefly. Including some that cite entrapment.
  • No Prison Time – A man arrested in Missoula sex sting (2013) took a plea deal in 2015 and received 25 year suspended sentence. He was one of 7 people, one of which was found not guilty in a trial and another found dead on his property.
  • Lawyer Convicted – Here is a story where a former FSU, West Point Lawyer  was convicted. He was found guilty by a Federal Jury.
  • Are you cool with me being 15? – The sex sting question that lead a lawyer to jail (6 months) in 2017 – he took a plea.
  • Rambo Reyes and The Child Sex Slave Rescue Industry – Interesting investigative reporting by Lynn Packer on a DA, O.U.R. charity and money to organizations formed to help in human trafficking. Seems they may help somewhat but a lot of charity dollars are going into the pockets of those who run these organizations. Disclosure – O.U.R. has contributed money to Washington State’s Net Nanny stings.
  • Sex Sting Plea to non Sex Charge – In Washington State Man entered a plea to avoid sex offense (non-sex charge) but still received a felony charge.
  • Reverse Sting Operation – An actual woman tried to pimp out her 2 year old for $1,200 and was caught and sentenced to 40 years! So, who is worse in these operations? The one doing the pimping or the one seeking sex? Seems it is the pimp!
  • How to Catch a Sex Predator—Sex Sting Operations Uncovered – A lawyer’s blog in Florida talking about their Sting Operations (277 people captured in 2017). Someone who dives into the operation and various statistics.
  • Online sex sting sparks debate – A 2014 article on sting operations. This one talks about sting in Corvallis Oregon and the outcome on a few of those cases. It also discusses an older “To Catch a Predator” case which was dismissed during trial.
  • Corrections officer resigns after child predator sting on Facebook – Aug 2018, group called Parents Against Predators Nationwide on Facebook setup sting operation and caught corrections officer. Sometimes it is the police, sometimes amateurs, and sometimes it isn’t a sting. You can’t believe/trust anyone online anymore. Bottom line, avoid any discussions with minors online if you are an adult. Also check out this article where Police say this isn’t helping: Stings may cause child predators to go back to looking for kids ‘at the playground’
  • Ethics of NBC’s Sting Show ‘To Catch a Predator’ – NPR Discussion from January 2007. Audio (37 minutes) and text transcription. Talks with Chris Hanson (host of the show) as well as a few others. “Compelling Television.”
  • Catfishing for Convictions: Florida Police Bend Entrapment Rules – A, Dec 2018, US Observer article on a child sex sting out of Florida and how they are catfishing to capture individuals. Is this Entrapment?
  • A Case Against Sex Stings and the Disclosure of Arrestees’ Personal Information – A 2009 article out of the Columbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic. Talks about ineffective and harmful use of stings especially to the LGBT community.
  • How Effective Are They? – An Ontario member of a police force that gave Vancouver cops the idea for a child-sex-sting operation said a majority of charges result in guilty pleas. And the executive director of a child-advocacy group said they should be a regular part of policing. It seems nothing is slowing these things down; and Canada is adopting them as well.
  • Hundreds of texts, 4 arrests, only 1 man charged: Inside an Indiana child sex sting – A 2018 sting out of Indiana didn’t go so well. They arrested 4 but only one is awaiting trial. It was a new thing for the police and didn’t go so well. Learn what happened with the “Operation Child’s Play” sting operation. One ad posted elicited 400+ responses. Here is a behind the scenes look at the sting operation.
  • Operation Millstone: A year later – A predator sting from 2018 where a year later most are back on the street. There were 45 people arrested and 17 people were convicted only 3 were sentenced to jail time. THIS seems more like it for these sting operations–most ARE NOT getting the right people; if so, let them go!
  • Policing the Police: Did Sheriff go too far on Undercover Sex Sting  – Noah Pransky is back (30-Sept-2019) talking about the Florida Sex Sting operations and how the police are really pushing the limits of the law (ethics, entrapment, etc.) when conducting these pro-active sting operations in Florida. Many are arrested and sent to jail/prison with Felony and lifetime registration.
  • Sarasota deputies have track record of crossing line on undercover stings – A follow up by Noah Pransky on 2-Oct-2019. This applies to many, if not all, other states. These stings go to extreme measures to arrest and convict and keep the money flowing.
  • Outrageous Government Conduct – A 2015 two part article by Adam Wiznieski related to a drug stash house and sting operation where the government persuades an individual to rob this drug house and trumps up the charges by the amount of drugs present. Cites some case history and how the law does not benefit the defendant even with these fake/induced crimes.
  • To Entrap an Innocent – An Atlantic article from 2015 on police sex stings by Conor Friedersdorf. Caption: “Florida police use sex-crime laws to bait men with no apparent interest in underage trysts.” Perhaps we need to rethink these police tactics.
  • The Justice Department’s Fake Fight Against Sex TraffickingThe New Republic article from June 2020 on how the Feds go after sex trafficking when there are no traffickers. Fake crimes, imagine that.
  • No reinstatement for Prosecutor – A sex crimes prosecutor himself was arrested during an undercover sting operation in 2009. His case was dismissed because “there was no victim.” Interestingly enough, 1 month after his arrest the law was changed to allow them to prosecute without a victim. So laws really can get enacted and passed quickly if there is enough pull.
  • This psychologist explains why people confess to crimes they didn’t commit – A June 2019 article about police interrogation and how they get people to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. One case is highlighted where a man served 20 years in prison. This is similar to stings in many ways as Law Enforcement, whom are experts, are getting individuals to do things they normally wouldn’t do. Seems improbable but it is happening.
  • The police should not create crime – A Sept 2020 opinion piece by Katie Tinto in USA Today which talks about sting operations (not sex stings). Yes, these stings do exploit the vulnerable. Yes, we need reform. Here is a related article in the LA Times and here the main article from September 2020 all of these follow-ups are based on: The Dangers of Police-Created Crime. The word is hopefully getting out.
  • Selling Girls | Sex traffickers are targeting American children – Though biased and a bit exaggerated this article paints a picture of a predator, pimp, and john who would be involved in trafficking of minors. Stings involve little to no money for sex, traffickers charge a steep price. If it is too good to be true you are likely dealing with law enforcement. Otherwise you are likely dealing with traffickers. Check out this article for details on the underground commercial sex economy.
  • Sex Panic: The War on Sex Offenders as Public Enemy Number One – Published in the February 2021 edition of Criminal Legal News and written by Michael Fortino, Ph.D. The war on drugs in the 80’s is now the war on Sex Offenders in the 2000’s. Welcome to the loss of all your rights if convicted. Be careful out there.
  • With children stuck at home during coronavirus shutdowns, online sexual predators can swoop in – Washington Post article published February 2021 talking about sexual predators online. The NCMEC noted it received over 30k complaints about possible child enticement during the first nine months of the year! Parents need to educate their children about the dangers online. Police/Educators at the school. Avoid the stings, they are often getting the wrong people anyway.
  • Catching Predators: An Exclusive Look Inside A Statewide Underage Sex Sting – A TV station out of Oklahoma offers a look inside a Sex Sting operation (published on 31-Mar-2021). Includes a 4 minute video on their coverage. They did a ride along and deep dive into this two-month undercover Operation “Guardian Angels” sex sting. They created fake social media profiles (didn’t say on what platform) of a 14 year old boy and 15 year old girl. Arrested 11 men. They even arrested an 18 year old. One person did admit sexual assault with other children–which is the people they are after. Parents need to know what their kids are doing ONLINE! They claim at the end that “80% of all child predators never get caught.”
  • Charges Dropped when framed for vilest sex crimes – An April 2021 article out of Salt Lake City where a man spent a year under a cloud of accusations with child sexual charges. How a sting almost landing him in prison for a long time. He was one of the lucky ones to get his case dismissed.
  • Notification of Concerns regarding Use of Photographs of FBI Employees for Online Undercover Operations – July 2021 DOJ Management Advisory Memo. It seems the DOJ doesn’t like it when the FBI uses their employees for undercover sting operations without going through proper permission procedures as the agent can become compromised or, possibly a real victim. Humm. Here is an article from the Daily Beast related to the memo. Even the DOJ note’s these stings as “fishing” operations. They also say social media sites (but don’t list the fact that they are adult dating sites). Cracks before the fall.
  • Internet crimes against children cases are overwhelming Oklahoma officials – A 12-Jul-2021 article in the Oklahoman paper about ICAC and the cases. They did get a nice quote from a defense attorney: while predators entering websites designed for children are obvious suspects, in many cases, law enforcement agents who go undercover are doing so on adult dating sites and chat rooms. A lot of the people don’t believe it. It is a ruse. The ICAC rep says their agents uses guidelines to avoid legal pitfalls but really they are skirting a very fine ethical and moral boundary here.
  •  Durango police say internet sex stings are legal, not entrapment   – A Jan 6, 2022 article on these child sex stings essentially says our stings are Legal, Not Entrapment. The Durango Police Department says its internet sting operations to identify individuals involved in human trafficking and sexual assault on children are above board, and monitored by trained investigators and legal professionals. They go on to note the websites (dating/hookup sites used): Advertisements set up by investigators on the social media sites Grindr, Skout and Skip the Games. Trust me, this IS ENTRAPMENT. Especially if you go to dating/hookup sites and bait and switch.
  • Flagstaff PD officers fully naked, fondled during massage investigation – A July 2022 investigation of a 2019 operation: Operation High Country Hydra. Cops going to massage parlors to investigate sex trafficking and being fondled multiple times during their investigation. Who is committing the crime here?
  • To Catch a Non-Predator Try Entrapment – A 2015 article on REASON by

Operation Net Nanny Related Articles:

  • Convicted of Sex Crimes, but With No Victims – A New York Times Magazine article by Mike Winerip about Washington State Sting Operation – Net Nanny. Covers several cases and the harsh sentences for those arrested (30 Aug 2020 publication date).
  • Post Millennial Opinion Piece on the NY Times Mag article – A right leaning online website had an opinion piece: The New York Times just published a bizarre pro-pedophile article. I suppose one can spin it anyway they want. NY Times is trying to get the word out about injustice, harsh sentences, and questionable police tactics. Read it that way or not.
  • The New York Times Misses The Point – Does it really or could this be one of the organizations that contributed to Operation Net Nanny. Oh, that is right (pun intended), OUR contributed $170+k to help fund these sting operations and another $400k to the local Utah ICAC organization. They are contributing to this mess. Do you put 200+ people in prison just to save one or two potential victims? I guess so.
  • Lawsuit: State operation to catch sex offenders entrapped innocent men to boost arrest numbers – An article in The Spokesman-Review newspaper (2-May-2021) on a huge Net Nanny lawsuit. Can we finally put an end to these STING operations?

Presentations, Reports & Statistics:

Information articles related to Defense of Sting Operations:

Related Court Cases on Sting Operations:

  • U.S. v. McGILL – Court of Appeals case related to Craigslist Ad Sting Operation (2015). Case was affirmed – McGill received 120 month sentence.
  • State vs Palmer (Closing), (Voir Dire), Shea Llabre  – Case out of Florida won by Peter Aiken discovered on website. Includes document on Jury selection, chatter, and closing arguments. Three separate documents totaling over 200 pages.
  • Miller V State Order to DismissMTD-Violations – Another case out of Florida with motion to dismiss due to Entrapment and violation of Operational plan. Appeal Opinion.
  • State v. Patel – Supreme Court in Washington state on a 2nd degree attempt rape of a child Sting Operation. This was decided in 2010, the original verdict was upheld. This references two other similar cases. Here is the Appellant Brief, Petition for Review, and the Respondent Brief from the March 2010 Supreme Court Brief. This went into the decision which occurred in November 2010.
  • State v. Best (WA) – A sting operation that was dismissed at trial level, appealed by prosecutors and then reversed at the Appeals level. Looks like it will go back to trail. Original arrest in 2016, appeal verdict in 2018.
  • State v. Solomon (WA) – Very similar to the Best case above. This was also dismissed, sent to Appeals Court by prosecutors and upheld at the Appeals court. Interesting cases to compare at the Appeal level in the State of Washington. Verdict for this was May 2018. Additional/similar cases lost at trail are working their way through the process (~7 as of 2018).

Other articles related to Sex Offenders / Registry: