Both the policewoman and her target give the author their versions of the truth, in a case that challenges the conventional wisdom about online sexual predators, and blurs the lines among crime, “intent,” and enticement.Detective Michele Deery works in a cubicle in the basement of the Delaware County courthouse, in Media, Pennsylvania.American courts have long recognized the right of police to invent ruses. Courts and lawmakers become less and less scrupulous about basic fairness.
She knew nothing of his cybersex life, or if she did, she ignored it.
A burly, round-faced man of 42, with a thickly muscled neck and shoulders, thinning hair, and a goatee, he was seated before the computer in their living room in a small, two-story town house in suburban Philadelphia.
This leads unavoidably into the gray area of thoughts, intentions, and predispositions—and into the equally murky realm of enticement and entrapment.
It is a way of conducting police business that, without extreme care, can itself become a form of abuse—in which the pursuer and the pursued grow entangled in a transaction that takes on a gruesome life of its own. Dick in his classic short story “The Minority Report,” and in the Steven Spielberg movie based on it, in which an official government department of “Precrime” identifies, charges, and jails people on the basis of anticipated actions.
Police patrolling the precincts of sin do not often find the streets empty.
How are they to tell the difference between the casual sinner and the criminal?He imagined it was like a colorful lure on the surface of a pond.He was excited to see on-screen that this woman, calling herself heatherscutiepies, lived in his state, Pennsylvania, and was 39 years old.The goal was to identify the latter, hook them, and then reel them in, turn them into “travelers.” Once a traveler took that all-important step out of fantasy and into the real world, his behavior went from the merely immoral to the overtly criminal.When they delivered themselves for the promised rendezvous, instead of meeting a mother and her young daughters they would find a team of well-armed, cheerfully disgusted Delaware County police officers.Deery would begin a dialogue, dangling the illicit possibility, gauging how serious her mark was.