Mistrial in Child Enticement Case Involving Former Sex Crimes Prosecutor
Posted May 13, 2011 12:42 PM CST
By Stephanie Francis Ward
A mistrial for Steve Giardini, a former Mobile County, Ala., prosecutor accused of attempting to entice a child for sex, was declared Thursday after jurors could not reach a verdict. Alabama Assistant Attorney General Andrew Arrington said prosecutors will retry the case, Alabama Live reports.
Giardini, 51, previously handled sex crime cases involving children for the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office. According to Alabama Live, the government had evidence that Giardini spoke by phone with a male undercover FBI agent, posing as a 15-year-old girl, for at least three months.
The jury heard tapes of the conversations between Giardini and the undercover agent, who used voice-altering technology to make himself sound like a young girl going by the name of “Diana.” The tapes included Giardini discussing Diana’s sexual history, plans to travel to the beach together and her mother’s schedule. The recordings also included a masturbation session, Alabama Live reports, and descriptions of sexual acts.
On tape, Giardini repeatedly said that he could not have sex with “Diana” until she was 16. His lawyer argued that while his client’s behavior was both inappropriate and offensive, it was not illegal.
“Phone sex is not a crime,” Dennis Knizley told the jury in closing arguments. “They’re hoping you feel that the phone sex is so offensive that you’re going to put your judgment aside and your objectivity aside ... and you’re going to be so inflamed by the phone sex that you’re going to convict him of something.”