A South Carolina man has been accused of posing as an adolescent boy in order to engage in an obscene online exchange with a 13-year-old girl from Kentucky. The 39-year-old Cheraw man was taken into custody on May 19 following a brief investigation involving law enforcement agencies in two states and the U.S. Secret Service. He has been charged with transmitting obscene material to a minor and online enticement. The charges carry a minimum custodial sentence of 10 years. He is being held without bail.
The man allegedly made contact with the girl on a social media platform that allows users to stream videos from their cellphones. When the girl realized that she was communicating with an adult male and not a 16-year-old boy, the man allegedly told her that he had a genetic condition that aged his appearance. He is also said to have threatened to track the girl down by tracing her cellphone number. The girl says that this threat worried her and convinced her to agree when the man demanded that she expose herself.
U.S. Secret Service agents from the internet crimes division linked the man to the cellphone number used to initiate the online interaction, a Facebook page and a Google Duo account. According to court records, the man has engaged in similar exchanges with minors on at least 30 other occasions.
Electronic evidence can be extremely compelling, and this is particularly true when the digital records involved include video files. In situations like these, experienced criminal defense attorneys may seek to avoid a trial by entering into plea discussions. When their clients are accused of committing federal crimes and the facts of the case are likely to inflame a jury, attorneys might recommend a negotiated resolution.