Articles Posted in Sex Offense Crimes

According to WDAM-7, Jackson County, Mississippi is beginning to see an uptick in child pornography extortion, or “sextortion” cases. Jackson County Sheriff, Mike Ezell, has taken it upon himself to try to warn parents about a social media scam that has been circulating and has resulted in an increase in child pornography extortion cases. According to Ezell, fake Snapchat accounts are created, and the account holder pretends to be a child. The account holder then asks other children for nude photographs, and once the photographs are sent, the child in the picture is then instructed to send money or it will be leaked. 

As of late, the sheriff’s department has not been able to charge anyone yet because so far all of the cases have involved scammers from other countries, which is a problem in itself. Ezell added that, “it’s almost impossible to find, prosecute, or arrest them.” 

What is Extortion?

Recently, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas announced that an El Paso man was sentenced in federal court to 160 months (13 years) in prison for receipt and distribution of a visual depiction involving the sexual exploitation of a minor.

According to court documents, the man used a fake social media account to share dozens of files containing Child Sexual Exploitation Material (CSEM) in a group chat over a three-day period between December 31, 2020 and January 2, 2021.

Investigators located the man’s residence and identified additional online accounts where he kept files containing CSEM.   In a statement to media, the Office noted, “Predators contemplating to exploit children should heed this Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigation and the sentence handed down . . . . HSI and our law enforcement partners continue to work tirelessly to protect our greatest asset–our children–and focus on arresting and prosecuting those who seek to victimize them.”

A child sex abuse charge and conviction can have a lasting impact on your life even when you know you have not committed the crime. Significant penalties and permanent damage to your reputation are direct results of this type of criminal conviction.

A conviction for child molestation can include: jail time, probation, fines, lifetime sex offender registration, loss of employment or professional licenses and/or loss of child custody.

False Accusations

A rookie player for the Philadelphia Eagles has been indicted on rape and kidnapping charges, according to Dave Zangaro with NBC Sports. The Eagles player, offensive lineman Josh Sills, was signed by the Eagles as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State this past spring and is just finishing up his rookie season in the NFL. Sills played in just one game this season. He has been inactive for the Eagles’ two playoff games this season.

Sills was indicted by a Guernsey County (Ohio) Common Pleas Court grand jury on one count of rape and one count of kidnapping at the age of 25. Both charges are first-degree felonies. According to a press release from the Ohio Attorney General’s office, these charges stem from an incident that occurred in December 2019. The indictment says, “Sills engaged in sexual activity that was not consensual and held a victim against her will. The crime was immediately reported, and the Guernsey County Sheriff’s Office conducted a detailed investigation.” Sills has been placed on the Commissioner Exempt List by the NFL. While on the list, he will not be permitted to practice, play, or travel with the Eagles, but he will still be paid. Before the NFL placed Sills on this list, the Eagles released the following statement: “The organization is aware of the legal matter involving Josh Sills. We have been in communication with the league office and are in the process of gathering more information. We have no further comment at this time.”

The details of the incident from the alleged victim are graphic and some may find them triggering. A woman told police that a male, whom she later identified as Sills, dropped her and her cousin off at her cousin’s place, where they were staying. According to the woman, after her cousin exited the vehicle, Sills grabbed her by her ponytail and tried to kiss her. When another vehicle pulled up behind them, he grabbed her by her neck, throwing her down and getting on top of her so no one would see. The woman stated that she repeatedly told Sills to stop and to let her go inside, but he forced her to perform oral sex on him. The woman identified the man who did this to her as Sills, someone she had gone to high school with and has known for 7 or 8 years.

A man in Virginia just received what is believed to be the longest sentence in the history of Wythe County. One may wonder how many people he must have killed or what terroristic act he must have committed to deserve an historically long prison sentence. In fact, Curtis Spurlock is a sexual predator, not a murderer or a terrorist. He was found guilty of several sexual offenses committed against his own children, earning him a sentence of six consecutive life sentences with an additional twenty year sentence.

According to an article from the associated press dated December 20, 2022, Harvey Weinstien was found guilty of sexual assault and rape in a Los Angeles court. Weiinstien is also currently serving a sentence for rape in New York. Weinstien was a big time hollywood executive that became the face of the metoo movement due to allegations surrounding his conduct with much younger female actresses. Weinstien’s sentence in New York is for a term of twenty-three years and he could be sentenced for up to twenty-four in California.

While the metoo movement has given way to other headlines in the last couple of years, the effects are still being seen round the country. Seeing people like Ghislane Maxwell, Jeffery Epstien, and Harvey Weinstien in prison are all public reminders of the movement but it goes much deeper than the rich and famous hollywood elites. All over the country the connotation around a sex crime accusation has shifted. While there was always a taboo and shamefulness attached to an alleged sex crime, it seems that in some instances the presumption of innocence has been flipped on its head and the accused is treated as if they are guilty until they prove their innocence. Of course, the criminal justice system is built on the presumption of innocence until an accused is found to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of his peers. Sex related crimes are also delicate because a conviction not only makes you a felon, it marks you as a convicted sex offender for the rest of your life, and may require you to register on the sex offender registry for the rest of your life. All of this in addition to your inability to own a firearm as a felon and difficulty finding employment.

Mentioned above are facts concerning Weinsstien’s sentencing. Sentencing, of course, varies from state to state. Here in Mississippi, the laws are clear and the punishments for sex crimes are severe. Rape, or forcible sexual intercourse, in Mississippi carries life in prison at the discretion of the jury. Should the jury elect not to sentence the convicted offender to life, the statute allows the judge to sentence the offender to any sentence that may be appropriate. The stakes are simply too high in sex crime cases, especially rape, to roll the dice with an inexperienced lawyer.

In today’s time of victim empowerment where the police, prosecutors, and even juries are flipping the due process and fairness by presuming the credibility of the accuser in sex crimes cases. You will be presumed guilty simply by being charged with a sex crime. Your silence is more important than ever when charged or investigated with a sex crime. Never agree to speak with police or detectives before consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Even then, there is virtually no scenario where an offender should agree to speak with law enforcement about sex crimes accusations. Your reliable alibi or mistaken identity simply means nothing and you will not be believed.

Why Should an Offender Refuse to Talk to Law Enforcement in any Sex Case Investigation?

The reason criminal defense lawyers advise against speaking to police in sex crimes cases is because law enforcement officers seldom reach out to a suspect to rule him out. Instead, their motivation is to gather evidence to charge or convict suspects. This is because they do not care about the accused’s “side of the story” until they have interviewed the accuser (usually several times) and, in most instances, deemed his/her credible. More often than not, the result of speaking with the police is that the information given inadvertently supplies details that the police are seeking to use to help charge or convict the accused. The police or investigators are often looking for statements such as: “yes, I was with her but I didn’t do anything”; or “yes, we had sex, but it was consensual”; or “I can’t recall because we were both drinking”. While meant to profess innocence, such statements are more likely viewed as admissions to help build or provide evidence of the sex crime. At the same time, nerves, faulty memory, pressure, and intimidation can, and do, result in misstatements or inconsistencies which the police will use as evidence of untruthfulness. In short, the police are not your friends and are not looking to help you. They are instead motivated to make and prove their case, and let the jury decide.

Some people assume that the internet is a place where you are free to do whatever you want, but that is just not the case. Although the web was once described as a “wild west” during the early days, several states have cracked down on internet crime, and Mississippi is certainly one of these states. Some of the most serious digital crimes are of a sexual nature, and you can face serious penalties if you are convicted of these offenses. But what kind of sex crimes can be committed online in Mississippi?

If you have been charged with any crime, it is best to get in touch with a qualified, experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Our legal professionals can guide you toward a positive outcome while fighting for your rights in court. After assessing your unique situation, we can help you develop an effective defense strategy.

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