Dear Members and Advocates:
When I first became involved with FAC, I fielded a lot of calls and emails from people caught up in “sex offender stings”. These “stings” are painted by law enforcement as operations seeking to catch adults trolling the internet for children to have sex with. Like most of the general public who didn’t know better, I believed these were actually dangerous, predatory people who were actively seeking out children. The people that were contacting us, though, told a different story. Many were on adult personals sites and dating apps looking for other adults. They started speaking with an adult, chats and emails are flowing, conversations become sexual and then at some point in the online relationship, out of nowhere, a minor gets thrown into the mix.
I probably owe an apology to the first few people I communicated with about these stings. When they told me they had absolutely no intention of soliciting a minor – the police pulled a bait and switch on them, I thought they were lying. Sure there are some dangerous predators out there, but as I spoke to more and more people and consistently kept hearing similar experiences from unrelated people, I realized something was very amiss.
Contrary to the scare stories that police were telling, these people were not out trolling the internet for children. These people were on adult classifieds or dating apps which require users to be over 18. They were not seeking out minors at all, nor was there an expectation they would find them on these adults-only apps. In most cases, it was the law enforcement officer (pretending to be a minor) who introduced the fictitious minor and induced the person into what they had no inclination to do in the first place. Then there are the more egregious cases, where the entire sexual conversation takes place while the person still thinks they are talking to an adult and when it comes to the threat of prosecution, the chats get taken out of context.
My next area of disbelief was why, under these circumstances, anyone would plead guilty to this horrible crime. Again, as I spoke to more and more people and consistently kept hearing similar experiences from unrelated people, I got my answer. The defendants were threatened with very long prison sentences unless they took a plea. Some were not given bond or couldn’t afford it, and after months of waiting through pre-trial continuances would take anything just to get out of jail. Most had no idea about the consequences of being registered as a sex offender at the time.
Discovering the truth about these stings taught me a couple lessons. First, sadly, is that you can’t always trust the police. I see Volusia County Sheriff, Mike Chitwood, making headlines for himself in a press conference today over “Operation Deviant Desire” and last month over “Operation Neptune” and have to wonder who is out there solving actual crimes if this guy is so busy manufacturing them. (Oh… and if anyone is wondering about Chitwood’s agenda, perhaps its that he announced a re-election bid a few months ago).
The second lesson I learned was that I shouldn’t pass judgement on anyone. There’s always more to a story and more to a person than this label offers. Whether we’re the ones affected, have a loved one who is, or even if someone randomly forwarded this email to you and you are learning about the Florida Action Committee for the first time, hopefully your eyes have been opened to a tremendous injustice and you’ll join our fight!
Reminder that the Monthly Membership call is scheduled for this Thursday Oct 3 at 8pm ET. Guest speaker is author and motivational speaker Travis Vining. He will share his journey from trauma to healing, and finding the “The Miracle in the Madness“.
The Florida Action Committee
The giving season is upon us and everyone will be shopping. An easy, no fuss way to support the Florida Action Committee outreach is through Amazon Smile.
Amazon has made it very simple for you to designate a qualified, non-profit organization as your preferred recipient of support for any online purchases you make. The Amazon Smile program allows you to designate an approved non-profit organization to receive a portion of the funds you spend on the items that you purchase on Amazon. At no additional cost to you, your participation in this program is a useful way to financially assist the organizations that you already support.
We are pleased to let you know Justice Transitions (JT) is a 501(c)(3) that participates in the Amazon Smile program. JT supports and sponsors many projects through FAC. Funds donated through Amazon Smile go towards outreach and support projects, small grants and loans to homeless, indigent, elderly, and disabled registered citizens and their families, for basic needs.
This link will take you directly to smile.amazon.com to set up your personal Amazon account and select Justice Transitions in Sanford FL as your charity. You can then begin to make purchases using https://smile.amazon.com in order to be certain that Justice Transitions benefits from the purchases you make.
It’s that simple. So, please show your support by designating Justice Transitions (JT) in Sanford FL as your charity and support FAC Registered Citizen Outreach projects.
Sat Oct 5- Family Support Session in Central Broward County -11:00am-1:00pm -Seating is limited. RSVP early.
Sun Oct 13-Meet and Greet in Daytona (Volusia County) 3:00-5:00pm
Fri Oct 25 -Family Support Session in Tampa area at 7:00 pm.
Sat Oct 26-Workshop in Apopka from 1-4pm – Come ready to turn our stories into letters, presentations, and speeches.
For more information about these events, or to RSVP email [email protected] or call 904-452-8322. No children please.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK
Another Central Florida County is creating headlines and publicly patting themselves on the back for another “sex offender sting operation” (this one dubbed ‘Deviant Desire’) that arrested 11 people who would likely not have engaged with a minor for sex if not for the…
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…
After a former Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University professor was released by Judge R. Michael Hutcheson on supersedeas bond, (allowing the defendant to be free while he appeals his case), Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood took it personally and sent some tweets…
Several law enforcement agencies teamed up to arrest 67 noncompliant sexual predators and sexual offenders during a seven-month operation called “Parking Lot Party,” a news release said. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, United States Marshals Service, Florida…