Florida Man Asks 11th Circuit to Vacate Sentence in Child Sex Case

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (CN) – A former Lake County teacher convicted of attempting to entice an 11-year-old to engage in sex and asking her father to take part in a kidnap plot, asked the 11th Circuit to vacate his 30-year sentence Thursday arguing that kidnapping is not necessarily a crime of violence.

Dane Gillis, a one-time culinary arts teacher at Lake Minneola High School, was found guilty in May 2016 of coercion or enticement of a minor, solicitation to commit a violent crime and threatening to kidnap.

As recounted in court documents, Gillis posted a Craigslist ad “Looking for a guy or group who r into extremely taboo scenes.”

The undercover federal agent who responded said he was the father of an 11-year-old girl, and over a series of text and emails, Gillis arranged to have sex with the fictitious girl.

Prosecutors also said that during the exchanges, Gillis also asked the agent to help him kidnap and rape a former co-worker.

Gillis was arrested in September 2015 when he traveled to meet the purported father and child.

Prosecutors later said searches of Gillis’ cellphone and computer revealed Internet searches for kidnapping, rape and child pornography.

Months after a jury found him guilty of the charges against him, the presiding judge in the case sentenced Gillis to 30 years and five months of imprisonment, supervised release for life and ordered him to register as a sex offender upon release.

But on Thursday attorney Adeel Bashir argued Gillis should not have been convicted on the solicitation charge because kidnapping is not “categorically” a violent crime.

“Physical force is not necessary [to kidnap and confine someone],” Bashir told U.S. Circuit Judges R. Lanier Anderson, Jill Pryor and Frank Hull.

Bashir went on to explain that kidnappers could lure victims into confinement and the victim need not be aware of the confinement.

Judge Anderson acknowledged that someone could be kidnapped by use of deception, but the suggested “[the defendant] has to have intent to use force when the deception fails.”

Attorney Michelle Taylor, representing the government, said while the statute Gillis was trying to use to reduce his sentence is broad, the defendant nevertheless “asked for bondage equipment to kidnap, rape and torture [the co-worker].”

Judge Anderson brought up a case, United States v. Boone, in which the defendant kidnapped the victim with deception.

But Taylor was undeterred.

“That [case] ended with the victim [having a] slit throat,” she said.

The three-judge panel did not indicate when it would release a ruling.

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