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Uncovering Internet Stalking of a Child

AROUND ARKANSAS -- Internet stalking of a child is new way to commit a crime through modern technology.
AROUND ARKANSAS -- Internet stalking of a child is new way to commit a crime through modern technology.

"In my lifetime of being in prosecution, we didn't have this years back when I started. Now we do, so it's certainly a new way...The stalking part of the title doesn't always match people's perceptions of what the crime is."

Washington County Prosecutor John Threet explained the charge can be filed when someone 21 years or older lures a child under the age of 15, online and arranges a meeting for sexual activity.

"It's incredibly risky for someone to engage in this type of activity because they never know whether that child is a child or a police officer on the other end of that communication... Whether it's an adult posing as a child or whether it's an actual child, if that person believes that that person's underage, you're just as guilty as if you were talking to somebody underage," said Threet.

And authorities can often find enough evidence amidst online interactions to prove the meeting was intended for sexual purposes.

"Typically what police try to do if possible, is set up a meeting and have them actually come to that location and make an arrest there. That goes a long way in showing the jury what that intent was and how far they were willing to go to carry out the conversations."

When filing a charge of Internet Stalking of a Child, Threet said there is a Class B Felony and Class A Felony. If the suspect just arranges a meeting, that is Class B and they could serve 5 to 20 years in prison. If they actually meet with the child, that is a Class A Felony, and the culprit could face between 6 and 30 years behind bars.

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