There's strong opposition to a judge's ruling in southwest Louisiana which declares part of the state's online sex solicitation law is unconstitutional.
Internet sex stings could face a big hurdle if a ruling stands by Louisiana State District Judge Wilford Carter of Lake Charles. That ruling contends that since the undercover officer is a consenting adult, the internet messages are protected under freedom of speech, making an arrest unconstitutional.
"But that's not the belief. The belief is you believe I'm 12 years old. It is not okay for you to say those things to a 12-year old," countered Bossier City Marshal Johnny Wyatt.
And, Caddo Parish District Attorney Paul Carmouche told KSLA News 12 that such legal distinctions are less important with local task force cases because they also set-up a meeting with the suspected predator. Carmouche explained, "then we have other charges we can file; attempted carnal knowledge, even attempted rape in some cases, that we can charge them with."
Carmouche predicts that Judge Carter's ruling will most likely be overturned when it gets to the Louisiana Supreme Court. If not however, he warned it could have unacceptable consequences down the road. Carmouche contined, "in order to catch these sexual predators they would actually have to use an actual 14-year old or under child." Carmouche promised that would never happen.
So, what if Carter's ruling does stand? "It would mean that this year we'll go back to the legislature, change what they found wrong and keep going," vowed Marshal Wyatt. He also said he recently spoke with the high court staff and a ruling on this issue is not expected until early next year.
Story by Jeff Ferrell