Skip to comments.Foley could face state charges if federal case is weak
Posted on 10/06/2006 8:59:05 PM PDT by conservative in nyc
Even if former Rep. Mark Foley did not violate federal laws in sexually explicit Internet communications with underage boys, he still could find himself charged under state statutes.
Federal law generally requires a person to meet a minor for sex or at the very least, to attempt to meet, for a crime to have been committed. However, under laws in some states where the Florida Republican communicated with children, an attempt to seduce the victim might be enough for a criminal case.
Federal prosecutors investigating Foley's lurid communications are examining whether Florida authorities might be better positioned to bring criminal charges against Foley, since the state threshold for determining if a crime has been committed is less stringent than federal law, according to a senior Justice Department official who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity.
Foley resigned abruptly last week amid reports he exchanged sexually suggestive communications with teenage boys who worked as pages on Capitol Hill. While his attorney, David Roth, says his client never engaged in sexual activity with a minor, that may not matter in certain states.
E-mails and instant messages released so far indicate Foley communicated with the boys in California and Louisiana, and may have initiated those contacts from Washington, D.C. and Florida. The boys in question were all at least 16 years old at the time of the communications.
Under state law in Florida, where the age of consent is 18, a crime may have been committed if Foley is simply found to have seduced or attempted to seduce a minor. However, a reading of the law is subjective, said JoAnn Carrin, spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's office.
In reference to the term "seduce," Carrin said, "That's open to interpretation."
She declined to elaborate on how Foley's communications may have violated state law.
Jeff Harris, president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said it may come down to interpretation of exactly what Foley's intent was.
"He may have just gone to the precipice of a cliff but not jumped, which means he didn't commit a crime," Harris said. "If he's encouraging a minor to commit a sex act, I think you've crossed a legal line. Any time your talking sexually with a minor on a computer, you're flirting with an arrest."
In Louisiana, a felony crime is committed if an adult engages in sexually explicit Internet communications with anyone under 17, said Mike Johnson, a special agent with the Louisiana Attorney General's Office.
"It just has to be sexual in nature," Johnson said.
Washington, D.C. law is a bit trickier.
It is not illegal for an adult to have sexual relations with a person at least 16 years old, so long as that person is not in a position of authority over the minor. However, it is still illegal to communicate any sexually related materials to a minor, such as magazines or any printed material, which could include Internet messages, said Jack King, spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
"D.C. doesn't have any Internet related statutes regarding Internet related sexual conduct," King said.
In California, it is illegal to send sexually suggestive communications to a minor under 18, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
However, Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos said cases are rarely prosecuted if the adult at least doesn't attempt to meet the child.
"Words alone generally are not going to be enough to prove a crime," Geragos said. "You'd have to have some act in furtherance of the lewd talk."
Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson added: "That's often why they don't go on these cases because it's hard to prove intent given that the Internet is a world of fantasy."
Note that this article only discusses the legal aspects of what Foley did. Regardless of what the law says, the Congressman is still a slimeball for sending sex-tinged IMs to minors.
The Federal case will be against the Democrats!! POP the POPCORN!!
I have yet to read any news article on this Foley case where it is shown a crime has taken place.
If saying a few few off-colored words or sending a few risque messages was illegal, half of MySpace's 100 million users would be in jail.
It seems odd that all these leftists, who are constantly blathering about gay rights, are desperately seeking to persecute Foley for being gay.
I wonder what their homosexual base make of all this?
Would you feel the same way if he was straight and sent lurid IM's to an 18 year old female?
Do you think that doesn't happen every day?
Does Barney Frank use a computer? Oh, never mind, he's a DEM.
To judge by comments on Huffington Post, gays aren't liking this at all.
Where do I complain about all of the men around the world who have used Yahoo messenger to wave their penises in front of their webcams. Can I say I am young at heart?
He is a slimeball, sick, an idiot. But IF the pages were above the age of consent, and IF they were yanking his chain (in a manner of speaking) is there really a justification to be on a headlong search for some way to prosecute him? I like to see people prosecuted for actual crimes, not the latest news cycle.
Well, Andrew Sullivan by all appearances doesn't seem too happy.
The Dems seem to have insulted members of their own base, insulted social conservatives in this blatant attempt to depress their vote and attack their "leaders" and...they didn't get Hastert's head nor any guarentee they'll take Foley's seat.
I'm trying to see where their net gain here is, and I'm not finding it.
it wouldn't be on the news 24-7 like this case is if it was herto thing(no shock factor)
Did any of this happen in Florida or was it only from DC?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.