Friday, September 09, 2005

Judge won't dismiss child exploitation charges

U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner today denied a motion from defendant John T. Spurlock (Tyler, TX) to dismiss a federal indictment that charges him with attempted enticement of a child to engage in prohibited sexual conduct, attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor, and interstate travel to attempt to engage in a sexual act with a minor.

Spurlock was indicted on Feb. 9, 2005, after allegedly traveling from Texas to Missouri to have sex with a mother and her daughters. Citing the recent ruling in USA v. Jan Helder, Jr., Spurlock had argued that it would be legally impossible to be convicted of the violations since there was no actual minor involved, but rather an undercover law enforcement officer.

Judge Fenner ruled that "in order to be convicted of attempt to commit a crime, the government need only prove (1) that the defendant had the specific intent to engage in the conduct for which he is charged, and (2) that he took a substantial step toward commission of the offense." Fenner also ruled that a reading of the Congressional Record indicates that "Congress intended to criminalize attempt to persuade or entice a minor to engage in sex even when an undercover officer is posing as a 'minor'."

Here is a copy of Judge Fenner's order, and here is a copy of our motion in opposition to the dismissal.

Here is a copy of the indictment against Spurlock, and our original news release announcing the earlier criminal complaint (which was later replaced by the indictment).