I have a dog, Max, who is a mouser. Having lived previously in Baltimore that came in very handy! No joke – we had huge rats!
One thing Max does is disable them, and then play with the body. And the initial chase? He LOVES it! I would say it is his favorite thing to do and rarely, very very rarely, does a rat or mouse get away from him.
I recently made the acquaintance of a man from Texas. His story is so very much like the others: Man looks for woman. Woman pretends, unconvincingly, to be child. Man gets arrested.
The interesting thing about his story – other than all of it being a complete injustice created by our own government and law enforcement to entrap and make money off of their own citizens… Wait! Did I say that too casually? That’s MESSED UP!
But I digress – the interesting thing about this mans plight and journey is that it started in July of 2014. Yup, almost 6 years ago, and he hasn’t been tried yet! Here’s his story:
Just a little but of fyi so you will understand where I was situationaly at the beginning of this entire mess. I had spent 17 years at the time of the incident in the military, a combination of active army and active texas army national guard. I was moving about every three years along with two year long deployments to iraq within a year period. I had been divorced for several years and with the constant moves no real personal relationships of any consequence.
It had become a common thing for me to check out Craigslist for women looking for FWB type situations. Several were into different role play scenarios and/or discrete meetings due to them already in a relationship.
Two years before the sting I had resigned my full time National Guard position in order to move to Abilene to help out my older aging parents and start working towards a BFA degree. When I moved to Abilene I was part time National Guard and would have to go to Austin one weekend a month for drilling with my unit. Since I was only there during the weekends I would look for some fun on Craigslist casual encounters section.
This sting took about a week from the beginning of it for me and my arrest. I had answered a Craigslist post in the casual encounters section like I had many many times before. The emails were fairly sexual from the start and after a while the person said they were 13. I thought it was strange due to the conversation and the understanding that you had to be 18 or older to post or reply to any post on Craigslist. I thought that I was just talking with someone else interested in role play. They sent a picture that was from the neck down the their knees fully clothed. In my opinion it could have been a woman of any age but I wasn’t thinking it was a child.
After a few days, they asked to meet and we agreed to meet at a pool at a hotel in the area they said they lived. I had a feeling that something wasn’t right but I agreed to go meet anyway. At this point I had a good idea that I was talking with someone wanting to role play because I figured no hotel would just let some strange kid use the hotel pool so I felt they must have had a room at the hotel and only adults can get hotel rooms.
When I got to the hotel I really felt like the situation was a bad one so I decided to make a U turn int he parking lot and not stop however when I got into the parking lot I was surrounded by several cars with law enforcement jumping out with sidearms drawn. Of course I stopped and followed their directions. This was in July of 2014
I was taken into custody, my truck was impounded and I spent a few hours at the sheriff’s department being interrogated. I continued to answer the investigators questions and explaining what I thought had happened. Eventually I was booked in county jail. Later that day I was visited by the dean of the college I was attending and notified that I was hereby suspended and could not go back on campus until this was resolved. I was three semesters from my bachelors degree. My parents found out about the arrest from a friend who saw the news report. The arrest was broadcast on all four news stations three times that day and on each of their facebook pages.
This paragraph sums up the 90 days I was in county jail. The second day I was in jail I received a letter from the court stating I had 30 days to file what I wanted to do with my truck that was impounded. That same day I received a letter from the court stating I have been assigned a public defender and I also received a questionnaire to fill out from that attorney. After filling the questionaire out I also added the paperwork on my truck and asked what I needed to do with it in order to get it back. The next day the public defender came to the jail to see me. We talked for about 30 minutes and he said he would check on my truck.
After I was released I found out from my mother that a Child Protective Services investigation had also been conducted relating to myself and my two nieces who were 14 and 12 at the time. The CPS investigation came back negative and was not placed in the DAs discovery. The DA had my cell phone and went through the entire phone but only found emails cooberating what I had told the investigators about meeting several women from craigslist for role play scenarios.
My public defender continued to tell me during the 90 days that he was looking into my vehicle and that he couldn’t do anything on the case until an indictmanet came down. After a month I recieved a letter from the court saying my truck was in default and would be auctioned off. Initially I was given a $50,000 bond which I didn’t have the money for. So I ended up staying in jail. After 90 days I was released. When I asked why, the jailers told me the charge had been rejected.
After I was released I went to my public defender and was told he was supposed to stop by the night before to let me know I was going to be released but he didn’t. He told me there was nothing more I needed to do but feel fortunate and get on with my life. He said that this would never come back. I eventually needed to get some paperwork from the DA in order to reapply to classes at college. I was able to get a letter from the DA stating that the charge was rejected and no further actions were to be taken on this charge.
I asked the DA clerk how I was supposed to be able to get the items that were in my vehicle when I was arrested. They told me I had to go get those items from the sheriff’s department. I tried to get my property or at least and inventory and disposition sheet of everything they took during my arrest but was not successful. After three or four tries, I finally received a call from the sheriffs department telling me that I was not going to get any of my property and that they were going to get an indictment against me. I figured to take those items as a loss.
During the next two yeas I worked for one company and had also been discharged from the military. I recieved a general under honorable conditions discharge because of the AWOLs I recieved due to being in jail instead of being able to gain an honorable discharge and a military retirement.
In February of 2017 I had completed a four week training program to gain a CDL. When I went to Dallas for an orientation to work driving over the road with a national logistics company I was pulled from the orientation due to an open felony warrant that was issued for me they found during the background check.
I went back to Abilene only to find out that I couldn’t get a bond because the warrant was already filed as served. The bondsman called the court to ask about it and the court reissued the warrant. I had a $20,000 bond which my mom paid. I went from their and retained a defense attorney for $7,500. He said I had a good case and that we needed to wait until an indictment was filed.
12 days after 36 months from the initial arrest the DA filed an indictment. At this time I had already been researching the texas code of criminal procedure and the texas penal code. I asked my lawyer about the SOL (statute of limitations) violation. He told me that the indictment was valid and that the SOL had been tolled, meaning the time limit was extended in my case. Several months went by with court dates being reset multiple times. Finally after a year I had to come up with a plea. I told my lawyer the entire time he was retained that I would not plead guilty. I again stressed my understanding that the SOL had never been tolled and the indictment was invalid and this case should be dismissed. He told me he would not be able to get the motion together before the next court date. At the next court date I asked for to get another attorney. I had already talked with another lawyer on this. when I requested to change lawyers the ADA requested a recess while I still had this lawyer. In a separate office, the ADA asked if the reason I wanted another lawyer was the motion to dismiss. I told him it had something to do with it but not all. He advised me to keep my lawyer because if the indictment was invalid then there would be no reason to spend money on another lawyer which made sense to me. SO when we went back into the court, I withdrew my request.
The following week my lawyer said if the motion to dismiss was filled the ADA was going to argue against it. I told him I didn’t care if he argued it or not, I wanted to give the judge the opportunity to dismiss this case. When the lawyer filled the motion to dismiss, the ADA did not argue the motion. The judge then sustained the motion then the ADA told the court the DA office was going to come back in two weeks with another indictment, warrant, and bond request.
After leaving the court I called my bondsman to let him know what was said, his response was what are they changing the charge to? I told him I did not know. I went to my new attorney and explained what had happened and we paid him $15,000 to retain his services and he told me we just had to wait until a new indictment came down.
Two weeks later the DA did file another indictment. This indictment was the same arrest but was amended to claim the SOL was tolled when the arrest warrant was filled in the court which was not the same court that all of the other case was filed in. Also they used the same warrant and bond from the original complaint filled in 2017. This new attorney did file a motion to dismiss because the SOL was still tolled and this should have been barred from any further actions. However this time the judge denied the motion. He also denied it a second time.
The last court date was canceled due to the covid19 mess and has still not been reset. Even the bondsman can’t figure this one out. He said they have never had anyone on a bond for three years.
In 9 weeks it will be six years since my initial arrest during that sting. The charge of online solicitation of a minor under 14 is 3 years in Texas. The federal SOL is 5 years.
I have lost my degree, my military retirement, a vehicle, over $23,000 in lawyer fees, an avg income of $65,000 a year for truck driving, loss of personal relationships due to the fact the arrest, charge, and both indictments have been blasted each time on all news channels, social media, and the local paper. After all of this, I still have not even begun to go to trial. I doubt that there is anywhere in this country where an online sting has been conducted and an arrest made where the suspect has not gone to trial after 6 years. It truly is unbelievable.
One side note, the DA who has been in office during the 2017 through now is not the same DA that was in office when I was arrested. That DA prosecuted many of these stings prior to and after my arrest. A couple years ago he resigned to become a judge.