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First Amendment

Court Upholds Sex Stings Using Undercover Cops in Chat Rooms

Posted Oct 23, 2007 1:12 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of a man snared in a sexual predator sting, saying the statute used to convict him did not impermissibly suppress his right to engage in fantasy speech.

The defendant, Frank Gagliardi, was arrested while waiting in his car to meet two 13-year-olds, including a girl named Lorie whom he met in an "I Love Older Men" Internet chat room, the Associated Press reports. “Lorie” was actually a much older government informant.

Speech is not protected by the First Amendment when it is the "very vehicle of the crime itself," the New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) yesterday. The court also concluded the statute did not bar police officers from posing as children to snare offenders.

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