Articles Posted in Internet Sex Crimes

On Tuesday December 3, 38-year-old Thabet Mahdi Saleh of Grand Rapids pleaded guilty to soliciting young girls for sex using Facebook, according to a news article at Mlive.com. Because of his guilty plea, Saleh could escape serving prison time. keyboard-1154210-m.jpg

Saleh agreed to a plea deal in which two charges would be dropped in exchange for his pleading guilty to accosting a child using a computer. He was initially charged with accosting children for immoral purposes and using a computer to commit a crime in connection with using the social media site to solicit three girls who were 13 and 14 years old for sex.

Police claim Saleh used Facebook sometime between September and October of last year to offer the girls money in exchange for sex; the girls reportedly live in Comstock Park and Wyoming. Saleh initially turned down a plea agreement offered by prosecutors. Had he gone to trial and been convicted of the charges, he would have faced up to 10 years in prison. A probable cause affidavit revealed that the origin of the messages sent to the girls were traced to Saleh after police obtained records from his Internet services provider.

Saleh’s trial was scheduled for December 2, but he decided to admit to the charges instead. News reports indicate that Saleh will likely avoid prison time, and will instead be placed on probation and required to register as a sex offender. His sentencing is scheduled for January 22; he remains free on a $30,000 personal recognizance bond.

Sex offenses are punished harshly in Michigan; penalties often include any number of years up to life in prison, substantial fines, and other consequences. For many, having to register as a sex offender is the most damaging punishment of all. Registered sex offenders face many difficulties which include not only a ruined reputation and career, but restrictions on where they can live or even work.

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In March of this year, 33-year-old Ashlee Liebert of Whitmore Lake was caught with a young girl in a car in Buffalo, W. Virginia along Cross Creek Road according to Putnam County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Alan Savilla. Savilla told news reporters at the time that as he approached the car, he observed the suspect was totally naked and raising up above what he believed to be a girl who was approximately 10 to 12 years old. She was naked from the waist down, according to Savilla.

Liebert was arrested at the time and charged with third-degree sexual assault along with sex abuse by a parent or guardian. At the time of the arrest, investigators did not collect DNA evidence. Liebert’s attorney Duane Rosenlieb scolded investigators for failing to collect evidence, saying that any DNA evidence was now completely unavailable as he questioned detectives in the case.

According to news reports, Liebert and the young girl met online while playing “World of Warcraft.” Over a five month period, the two allegedly developed a relationship which led to the meeting in W. Virginia. Police claim that Liebert confessed to having met other girls on the Internet.

On Monday October 29th Liebert pleaded guilty to traveling to W. Virginia to have sex with a minor. Liebert entered his plea in Huntington federal court according to federal prosecutors. In a search of Liebert’s home in March, videos of minors engaging in sexual acts and hundreds of images were found according to officials.

Liebert is scheduled to be sentenced on February 11. According to the FBI website, Liebert will be sentenced by United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers, and faces a $250,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

Michigan sexual assault attorneys understand that the penalties for those convicted on sexual assault charges are severe. While substantial fines and prison time are extremely harsh, perhaps the requirement to register as a sex offender is worst of all. Registered sex offenders lose their privacy, employment opportunities and the freedom to choose where they live.

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Joseph Ostrowski, a former high school football coach at Catholic High School in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, has been charged with tricking people into sex acts using the internet, specifically through Skype and Facebook. According to news reports, Ostrowski was charged in Pennsylvania in May with producing child pornography.

Ostrowski, who is 29 years old, remains in jail awaiting trial on the earlier charges. He was indicted by a Grand Rapids grand jury on Wednesday, August 29th, on one count of cyber-stalking. In May Ostrowski was charged with one count each of interstate communications of threats and sexual exploitation of children by Pennsylvania authorities.

According to prosecutors, Ostrowski used an electronic device to threaten a minor’s reputation with the intention of extorting money; he also used that device to transmit electronically the sexually explicit conduct he had enticed the minor to perform. These incidents allegedly occurred between December 31, 2011 and April 18, 2012.

The new indictment relates to the use of Skype and Facebook in which Ostrowski allegedly “took over” the Facebook accounts of individuals and subsequently blocked them from gaining access to their accounts. While residing in Pennsylvania, he allegedly used the hacked Facebook accounts to communicate with individuals in East Lansing, posing as the original Facebook account holders. Once in communication with residents, he persuaded them to perform sexually explicit acts over an internet video-telephone service, Skype. He recorded these acts and sent images to various other Facebook accounts from those that he originally compromised.

News reports state that it is not clear whether the Michigan and Pennsylvania cases are related.

Sex-related crimes are serious offenses which could result in substantial prison time and fines for those convicted. Michigan sex crimes defense attorneys know that without skilled legal representation, an individual’s life, career and reputation may be ruined forever.

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A 64-year-old Belding, Michigan man could face charges in Michigan after being arrested in Wisconsin and charged with multiple child sex offenses. Jerry Osmolinski was arrested in Janesville, WI on July 16th, charged with use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, sexual exploitation of a child and exposing a child to harmful material, descriptions or narrations.

Following the Wisconsin arrest, Michigan State Police served a search warrant at the suspects home according to a press release issued by the MSP. Allegedly, Osmolinski traveled to Janesville on the 16th to have sex with a 13-year-old girl, whom he assumed he had been communicating with online. In fact, Osmolinski had actually been communicating with police investigators over a period of several weeks, discussing the possibility of a sexual relationship and exchanging illegal images. Osmolinski was placed in a Wisconsin jail after arriving at an address where he thought he would meet the 13-year-old, which turned out to be a fictitious address given to the suspect by detectives.

Michigan internet sex crimes defense lawyers know the tactics often used by law enforcement to “trap” individuals allegedly engaging in sex related offenses. These agencies attempt to lure individuals who are otherwise upstanding, law-abiding citizens into lurid conversations with what appear to be minors, a “trick” that can result in an innocent individual being coerced into something they never intended to get involved in.

According to news reports, Osmolinski communicated online using Yahoo Messenger. Wisconsin police shared details about the communication they had engaged in with Osmolinski to Michigan police, who then performed a search of the suspect’s home and allegedly found sufficient evidence to charge him with the sex crimes.

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A 45-year-old Macomb Township man has been charged with possession of child pornography, according to Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham. The man, Daniel Joseph Morris, is a convicted sex offender who was convicted in 1990 for first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The current charges facing Morris include 10 counts of possession of child pornography. Morris also faces one count for using a computer to communicate with another for the commission of a crime. According to Wickersham, the computer charge is a seven-year felony; each of the counts of child porn possession is a four-year felony.

Michigan child pornography defense lawyers understand that without strong legal counsel, those accused face serious consequences. Social media sites, cell phones, and the internet in general have made it a simple task to transfer images that are sexually explicit or related to child pornography. Those who have been wrongfully accused of possessing these types of materials should consult with a capable attorney right away.

In this case, two individuals had been living at Morris’ home in Macomb Township for approximately two weeks, and had allegedly given them full access to the home according to authorities. The individuals saw a video which involved a 6-year-old child on Morris’ home computer, along with other images. The two then made a complaint to police, and sheriff’s office detectives executed a search warrant. According to Wickersham, detectives seized a computer and other materials in the search of the home. Morris was then placed under arrest at his place of employment.

Morris’ bond was set at $150,000 during his arraignment at the 41-A District Court in Shelby Township on July 16th.

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A recent sex offender registry study conducted by a University of Michigan law professor casts doubt on the effectiveness of the public notification aspect of some sex offender registry laws. The study concluded that while requiring convicted sex offenders to register with police may reduce the chances an individual will commit another sex crime, when sex offender laws require public notification – such as in Michigan – the chance of repeat offenses actually goes up.

Michigan law requires all individuals convicted of a crime of a sexual nature or certain sex related offense to register as a sex offender. This includes such offenses as criminal sexual conduct, sexual assault, child molestation and abuse and internet sex crimes. The Michigan Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA) also requires individuals to have their identities, including current addresses and other identifying information, published on the Michigan Public Sex Offenders Registry (PSOR). This information is open to the general pubic and is searchable via the Internet.

If you’ve been charged with a Michigan sex offense, it is imperative you contact an experienced Michigan sex crime defense attorney to prepare a vigorous defense and fight to keep your name off the sex crimes registry.

According to the latest study – these public notification requirements actually increase the chances an individual will commit a subsequent sex crime. The authors found that while registering as a sex offender with the police may help recidivism by allowing police to monitor behavior, making this information public may weaken public safety. Research showed that in jurisdictions where offenders’ identities were known, the deterrent benefit of registering was “more than offset by released offenders’ tendency to commit new crimes when subjected to notification requirements.” Further, jurisdictions with notification laws had higher overall rates of sex crimes. The authors explained “notification requirements actually seem to encourage [repeat offenses] because the associated psychological, social, or financial costs (of notification requirements) make a crime-free life relatively less desirable.”

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Plainwell news reports that a 25-year-old man has been arrested on two counts of Michigan criminal sexual conduct, third degree, also referred to by lay people as statutory rape. The man allegedly started a relationship with a 14-year-old girl he met on MySpace.

Although the facts and circumstances of this case are unknown, it is scenarios such as these that police often use as justification for overzealous prosecution and entrapment of innocent individuals for alleged internet sex crimes while using a computer in the privacy of their own homes. A common situation is a police internet “sting” – used in chat rooms and social media sites – where law enforcement agencies attempt to lure an law abiding citizen into having inappropriate conversations with an underage boy or girl. When they are “caught,” police offices then may file charges such as solicitation of a minor. Where the individual downloads images of the underage minor – either on their cell phone or computer – his may allegedly constitute distribution of pornography.

These charges are serious felonies that can lead to placement of your name on the Michigan sex crimes registry and jail time.

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Eggleston Township Treasurer Brian Lee Hill is free after more than three years in prison Hicks was sentenced to “time served” on charges of “possessing” child-pornography with a requirement that he complete “targeted sex offender therapy” and maintain, or at least be searching for, full-time employment. His sentence was reduced from “producing” child pornography, a felony carrying with it a 20-year sentence to “possessing” child pornography, a 4-year felony.

In a precedent setting decision, the Michigan Supreme Court determined that when someone downloads information from the internet for his or her own personal use it constitutes possession, not producing or manufacturing. This case has widespread implications in a variety of areas, affecting the legal ramifications of downloading any type of material from the internet.

As a result of this decision, Hill was freed on “time served.”

A man lured into a sex sting has been found competent to stand trial and will appear Friday in Livingston County Circuit Court. The Detroit man was one of nine men caught in an undercover sex sting targeting individuals who use the internet to send pictures or explicit materials to minors.

With the proliferation of chat rooms and social networking sites, law enforcement agencies have increasingly set up “stings” by attempting to lure otherwise law-abiding citizens into inappropriate conversations with minors. When officers entice individuals into downloading or sharing inappropriate images over the internet, this may be used as evidence of criminal conduct, such as solicitation of a minor. However, if the police overstep their authority and violate individual’s rights, the defense of entrapment may be used to gain an acquittal or dismissal of an internet sex crimes charge.

In Michigan, entrapment occurs when the police engage in impermissible conduct that would induce a law-abiding citizen under similar circumstances to commit the crime, or police engage in conduct so reprehensible that it cannot be tolerated by the court.

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According to ABC News Detroit, the head of the University of Michigan’s Debate program has been arrested on internet sex charges. Police allege that he used the internet to solicit sex with a minor.

Investigators set up a sting, with an officer from the internet crimes unit pretending to be a 14-year-old girl. The police claim the U of M director contacted the “girl” in a chat room and then sent her an instant message.

Internet sex crimes are considered felonies and convictions may carry with them fines, jail time, and require registration on the sex offender registry.

Use of these types of “stings” by law enforcement agencies is increasingly popular due to the proliferation of on-line chat rooms and social networking sites. Police may lie to entice law-abiding citizens to form inappropriate relationships, and to download or share inappropriate images over the internet. Even seemingly innocent conversations can become misconstrued, and serve as potential evidence of criminal sexual conduct.

Often, when police conduct these stings, they overstep their authority and violate innocent individual’s rights. In these cases, you may be able to defeat the charges with the defense of entrapment. “Entrapment” means that the police have coerced an otherwise law-abiding citizen to break the law.

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