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D.C. Public Defender Alleges Misconduct in Online Sting Operation

D.C. Public Defender Alleges Misconduct in Online Sting Operation

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An assistant public defender for the District of Columbia has filed a brief in court claiming that gay men in D.C. were being unfairly targeted in an Internet sting operation and unjustly arrested for pedophilia.

According to the Washington Blade, Jonathan Jeffress alleges that an undercover police detective has been visiting gay dating and hookup sites and creating profiles that describe himself as a 6-foot-2 "athletic" and "versatile" 40-year-old in search of sex. In at least one case, he self-identified as a "no limit perv" with an interest in meeting young people.

After connecting via email or an instant message, the Blade reports, the detective informs his prospective hookup of an interest in drugs -- including crystal meth -- and then invites him over.

The police charging document for one arrested man says the detective also mentioned the availability of a 12-year-old "perv boy" who enjoyed anal sex. While the claim was erroneous, Jeffress says the offering of the fictitious minor was considered by arresting officers to be sufficient incentive for the perpetrator showing up at the designated meeting spot.

"Instead of apprehending the Internet predator who is actively seeking children online ... the U.S. Attorney's Office is ... arresting gay men interacting in adults-only chat rooms that have no history or reputation as locations where minors go online," says the brief.

Jeffress believes that since most of the men arrested are drug users and sexually compulsive -- but not known pedophiles -- they were motivated by the promise of meth and unjustly arrested for seeking out sex with a minor.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office has called the allegations "baseless."

Read more here.

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