This past Tuesday, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd led a press conference proudly announcing the arrest of 132 “Bad Guys”, “Perverts”, “Pedophiles”, “Predators”, etc. The grandstanding Sheriff, flanked by Sheriffs from other counties, stood next to a board showing the mugshots of those arrested as he went on a fear instilling tirade.
What the Sheriff didn’t tell you was that of the 60 charges imposed on the 13 men arrested in his county; 10 were eventually dropped and that several were not even pursued by prosecutors. (see: http://www.theledger.com/article/20140805/NEWS/140809659?p=2&tc=pg&tc=ar)
What the Sheriff also didn’t tell you was that his office and others are the subject of several news investigations into claims of entrapment and other violation of legal policies. (see: http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/investigations/2014/07/01/sheriff-grady-judd-sex-sting-records/11929091/)
Sheriff Judd is the same guy who infamously charged 12 and 14 year old girls with felonies after the suicide death of a third girl. After that arrest, he proudly posted their mugshots and descriptions and held another grandstanding press conference. When asked whether it was necessary, he said of the two young girls; “We decided that we can’t leave her out there. Who else is she going to torment, who else is she going to harass?” as if there was some imminent danger to the children in the community. In the end the charges against the girls were dropped because after a month of combing through social media and chat logs, authorities found no evidence of cyberbullying. (see: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/doublex/2014/04/rebecca_sedwick_suicide_sheriff_grady_judd_never_should_have_arrested_katelyn.html)
With respect to the sex offender stings here, in many cases they find individuals posting ads on Adult websites where you must be 18 years old to participate. They engage the men in sexually stimulating conversation for days or even weeks before disclosing that they (the person they are pretending to be) is underage and then continuing to bait the men and encouraging them to continue along. Many had no intention of soliciting a minor but were entrapped. (see: http://floridaactioncommittee.org/are-police-catching-pedophiles-or-creating-straw-men/).
Apparently, based on the number of charges being dropped and individuals not being prosecuted, Prosecutors are agreeing.
All this leads to a more important question; what does this accomplish? The investigation that Sheriff Judd was touting was a three month investigation that spanned several counties. It took the resources of Federal, State, county and local police and ultimately prosecutors. Undoubtedly it took a lot of time and a lot of money to bait and arrest these 132 individuals who “could have” gone for a fictional victim. But aren’t there enough non-fictional victims out there that need resources? And of these 132 people; how many will actually be prosecuted? And how many tens of thousands of people did they have to bait in the three month process to find 132 that warranted arrest?
Could this just be another case of those who scream the loudest? (see: http://floridaactioncommittee.org/those-who-scream-the-loudest/)