WASHINGTON (CN) - A man accused of setting up a sexual rendezvous with a 3-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl through an undercover D.C. police officer cannot skirt indictment with a flimsy constitutional argument, a federal judge ruled.
Paul David Hite unsuccessfully sought dismissal of his indictment by claiming his speech with another adult is protected, as federal law criminalizes only direct communication between a defendant and a minor with the intent to persuade the minor to engage in illicit sexual activity.
"Finding no constitutional infirmities with the statute, the court declines the defendant's invitation to revisit the court's early opinion and adopt one of his proposed limits on the statute," U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote
According to the ruling, a D.C. police officer using the moniker "JP" spoke with Hite several times in a chat room on a social networking site and via telephone, engaging in a series of sexually explicit conversions regarding JP's 3-year-old nephew and his girlfriend's 12-year-old daughter.
"The parties discussed meeting in person to engage in sexual activity with both the 3-year old and 12-year old," the ruling states.
The men agreed to meet one weekend, but Hite became wary and backed out. He was arrested and charged anyway.
Challenging his indictment, Hite claims the law was overbroad and vague.
The court rejected the argument.
Hite also argued that his speech to the cop did not display intent, and should be constitutionally protected.
The judge was not persuaded.
"Whether the defendant acted with the requisite intent is a factual question for the jury to decide, not a vague aspect of the statute," Kollar-Kotelly wrote. "With a clear statute and no serious constitutional concerns, the canon of constitutional avoidance is inapplicable, and the court does not reach the defendant's proposed alternative constructions of Section 2422(b)."