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Ind. court limits online child sex stings

Jan. 4, 2009 at 2:11 PM

INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Two recent Indiana Court of Appeals rulings may limit the use of undercover investigators posing as children to catch Internet pedophiles, prosecutors say.

The court has ruled that two types of felony charges police had been using against sexual predators accused of luring underage victims via Internet "chat rooms" can't be leveled when the person at the other end of a "chat" is an undercover police officer, and not an actual child, The Indianapolis Star reported Sunday.

The dismissal of a charge of attempted sexual misconduct with a minor -- a Class B felony -- against a Shelbyville, Ind., man last week could mean new Internet child sex cases will lead to lighter sentences, prosecutors said.

Marion County, Ind., prosecutor's spokesman Mario Massillamany told the Star the office has stopped using the attempted sexual misconduct charge in online sting cases after a similar appellate court decision in July from a Hamilton County, Ind., case.

Instead, Massillamany said, prosecutors are now relying on child solicitation charges, a Class C felony charge that applies as long as the defendant merely believes the intended victim is at least 14 and younger than 16.

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