August 13, 2014

ACLU leader wants federal review of Polk sex stings

8-13-2014 Florida:

Following 10 Investigates' reports on problems with Central Florida's Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, the local chair of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling for a federal review.

Ret. Army Col. Mike Pheneger, the chair of the Greater Tampa Chapter of the ACLU, expressed concern Monday about how the "To Catch a Predator"-style stings, which remain as popular as ever in West/Central Florida.

"The Justice Department (should) be asked to look into this, since this is federal money that's involved here," said Pheneger, who has also held ACLU leadership positions at the state and national level. "Find out if they are following the rules, because it would appear they are not."

10 Investigates showed how the Central Florida ICAC task force, under the watch of Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, started reaching out to men who simply posted legal ads on legal dating sites. And a number of judges had criticized officers' overreach, their "failing to follow procedures" during sting operations, as well as methods to provoke "a law-abiding citizen to commit a crime."

A 10 Investigates analysis of more than 1,200 Florida arrests since 2008 shows the subjects of the stings often had no previous record and were able to avoid jail time. Many prosecutors have shown leniency, based on the facts of the case and the likelihood the defendant might actually commit a crime on a real child. ..Continued..w/Video.. by Noah Pransky, WTSP

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