NEW YORK (CN) – Law enforcement officers may pose as minors to catch online sexual predators, the Second Circuit ruled. It ruled that federal law does not require the enticement victim to be an actual minor.
The constitutionality of the law was questioned by Frank Gagliardi, 69, who had sexually explicit conversations with a government informant posing as a 13-year-old girl using the screen name “Teen2HoT4u.” Gagliardi met the decoy in a chat room called “I Love Older Men,” offered to pay her $200 for sex and arranged to meet her and an FBI agent posing as the informant’s teen friend. Gagliardi was arrested in his car, where he waited for the girls with two condoms and a bottle of Viagra. He was convicted of trying to entice, induce or persuade a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity. The court rejected Gagliardi’s claim that the law is too vague and “impermissibly suppresses fantasy speech with adults who happen to be posing as minors.” Preventing police from posing as minors would “remove the ‘sting’ from the government’s sting operations, preventing undercover officers from obtaining a conviction,” Judge Walker wrote. See ruling in U.S. v. Gagliardi.