Read the full terms Visitors to the Online Hotline sometimes experience psychological, emotional, and physical effects of sexual violence.Learning more can help you find the best form of care to begin the healing process.After months of prowling Internet chat rooms, posing as the mother of two young daughters, Detective Michele Deery thought she had a live one: “parafling,” a married, middle-aged man who claimed he wanted to have sex with her kids.
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The goal was to identify the latter, hook them, and then reel them in, turn them into “travelers.” Once a traveler took that all-important step out of fantasy and into the real world, his behavior went from the merely immoral to the overtly criminal.
When they delivered themselves for the promised rendezvous, instead of meeting a mother and her young daughters they would find a team of well-armed, cheerfully disgusted Delaware County police officers.
Her parents sent her to Catholic schools, and her mother, a retired district judge, now jokes that she wants her money back.
Her daughter’s beat is in the vilest corners of cyberspace, in chat rooms indicating “fetish” or various subgenres of flagrant peccancy.
For a variety of reasons, few of them valid, the child-molester has become the pre-eminent domestic villain of our time. In 1998, in response to growing fears of sexual predation online, Congress provided funds for the Department of Justice to create the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC ) task force, which among other things provides federal grants to local police departments for programs to find and apprehend online predators.
In practice that means looking for people who potentially fit the mold—people who seem as if they might be poised to commit a crime even if they have not yet done so.
Both the policewoman and her target give the author their versions of the truth, in a case that challenges the conventional wisdom about online sexual predators, and blurs the lines among crime, “intent,” and enticement.
Detective Michele Deery works in a cubicle in the basement of the Delaware County courthouse, in Media, Pennsylvania.
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