(CN) - A 14-year-old decoy from an Internet sting operation can be considered a "victim" in sentencing a sex offender as a sexually violent predator, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
Two undercover officers created a 14-year-old girl named "Kelly" to use in chat rooms while investigating Internet crimes against children.
Defendant Gregory Alan Buerge contacted "Kelly" and suggested meeting up with her and a friend to perform oral sex and take drugs.
One of the officers spoke with Buerge on the phone and arranged a location to meet. When he arrived, officers arrested him, finding drugs and sexual paraphernalia in his possession.
At trial, Buerge pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault on a victim under the age of 15. The court held a separate hearing and determined that Buerge was a sexually violent predator.
On appeal, Buerge claimed a fictional teen can't be considered a "victim" under the sexually violent predator statute.
The appeals court rejected this argument, saying the term meant "intended victim."
"[I]f a defendant intended ... to sexually assault a person, it does not matter that the intended victim was fictional or did not actually exist," Judge James Casebolt wrote.