The following Article by investigative reporter Noah Pransky appeared in Florida Politics today. We STRONGLY encourage you to post comments under the article and share it with your legislators. This practice by taking men who went online with NO INTENTION of engaging with someone underage and then police encouraging them to talk to a fictitious underage person by baiting and switching, should be stopped.

A 62-year-old soon-to-be-grandfather is dead following a controversial undercover operation by the Sarasota Co. Sheriff’s office — a sting designed to target child predators, but one that instead targeted men looking to meet other adults on adult websites.

XXXXX XXXXX committed suicide last week, less than 24 hours after bonding out on charges related to his conversations about sex with an undercover deputy, who claimed to be a 14-year-old prostitute.

The chats began on hookup site, where Keshmirian responded to an ad that appeared to be for an adult escort. But detectives with the Sarasota Co. Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) changed the woman’s age to that of a 14-year-old after the conversation about sex began.

…What Knight didn’t say was that the men — many of whom traveled long distances — might not have ever have come to Sarasota had deputies not convinced them to. It’s also likely many of them — who were looking to talk to other adults on legal, adult dating sites and apps such as Bumble, Grindr, and Plenty of Fish — would never have considered talking to underage teens had deputies not suggested it.

…WTSP’s landmark investigation into the stings relied on public records — specifically, chats between detectives and men who weren’t interested in meeting up with an underage teen — to show how far law enforcement officers would go to try and trap otherwise law-abiding men.

Since the investigation was reported in 2015, Florida law enforcement agencies have gone out of their way to destroy records related to the stings before the media or attorneys can obtain them. Public records experts consulted by Florida Politics say the unsuccessful chats between detectives and men on various dating or chat sites should be public records, but there is little risk to agencies violating the law.


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