Mixed feelings as COVID clip snowbirds wings
Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Daily fall forecasts and weather facts from Cindy Day
SaltWire's cartoonists bring heart and humour to the news.
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
What you need to know about COVID-19: October 23, 2020
Lawyer claims client was entrapped by police
"New to the scene," the ad on a local adult website read. "Teen girl involved in dance and cheer, long legs, lean body, can't host."
With it was a photo of a female from the lips down in a full-length mirror selfie standing in a bedroom, wearing a bra and panties.
Ten men responded to the ad, looking to chat. At least five of them dropped contact when the poster told them she was 15 years old.
One of those who stuck around was Kyle Brown. Twenty-eight years old at the time, his first message to the girl told her she was "the best thing I've seen on here in a long time."
Over the next week or so, Brown exchanged sexually explicit messages and at least one photo with the teenager, speaking about payment for sexual acts and the possibility of meeting in person, and telling her that he was cool with her age.
Upon receiving a phone call from an RNC investigator — the person behind the fake teenage girl identity — Brown promptly turned himself in for questioning.
"Oh man, what did I do, what did I do, what did I do?" Brown was recorded by police saying to himself in private during a break in the interview.
Brown has pleaded not guilty to five charges of child luring and one charge of exposing his genitals to a person under 16.
Testifying at his trial in provincial court in St. John's Tuesday, Brown said he had known all along the teen wasn't who she said she was, and had never believed she was 15 years old. After he searched the girl's photo online and found it on Google, he initiated the conversation and kept it up in an effort to gather enough information to expose the person as a scammer, he said.
"Thanks for wasting my time," Brown had texted the girl at one point, after asking her for photos.
"I pretty much had my mind made up at that point that the person wasn't what they said they were," he told the court.
"But you continued to contact them," prosecutor Erin Matthews said.
"Yes, I wanted to get clear-cut proof of what the person was doing," Brown said, explaining he had exposed other scammers on the same website in the past by posting his own warning ad.
Matthews reminded Brown he had given the "girl" his phone number, told her roughly where he lived and what kind of vehicle he drove and had sent her a photo of his penis.
"You're saying this was all part of your investigation to prove this person was a scam?" Matthews asked.
"Correct," Brown replied. "It was to further play into the conversation to see if I could get more information."
Brown and Const. Terry Follett were the only witnesses to testify at the trial.
In her closing submissions, Matthews argued Brown's testimony was unbelievable and bizarre.
"This evidence is somewhat absurd," she told Judge Colin Flynn. "He continued to engage and gave the person personal information and a personal image."
Defence lawyer Derek Hogan argued the Crown had not proven his client believed he was chatting with a child. People often lie on the internet, he said, pointing out Brown had given a false name and said he was 24.
"The person says they are 15, but at that point, the other person is induced. The flesh is weak, as the Bible says." — Defence lawyer Derek Hogan
The photo in the ad could have been of a young adult woman, Hogan said.
"It's our position you should believe him," Hogan told the judge of Brown's testimony. "Or at least believe that his evidence raises reasonable doubt."
Hogan argued that Follett's actions amounted to entrapment, saying the ad had inviting sexual content and essentially induced his client, who had not otherwise been under investigation for any offence, to commit the crimes.
"The photo appears to be a sexually mature female," Hogan said. "The person says they are 15, but at that point, the other person is induced. The flesh is weak, as the Bible says."
Matthews countered Hogan's entrapment argument by saying that while Brown had not been under investigation, the website, known by Follett to be a place used by adults to lure children, had. The photo in the ad was not overtly sexual and didn't reveal anything more than a bathing suit, she said, and included nothing that would entice a person to act beyond how they normally would.
"This was not a fishing expedition," she told the judge. "This is something Const. Follett was aware was happening on this site. Because of the nature of a luring offence, there's really no other way to catch individuals committing these types of crimes."
Flynn will return with his verdict Dec. 5.