Monday, October 3, 2005

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Attorney General Abbott's Cyber Crimes Unit Assists In First Online Solicitation Arrest Under New Law

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today applauded the arrest of an Austin man under a new state law that makes it a crime to use the Internet to solicit a child for sex, even if an actual meeting never occurs.

Christopher L. Dotson, 26, allegedly propositioned an investigator with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit who chatted with him online under the guise of being a 13-year-old girl. The Cyber Crimes Unit then worked with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office and the Travis County Sheriff’s Office to indict and subsequently arrest Dotson for online solicitation of a minor.

Cyber Arrest

Christopher L. Dotson

“I greatly appreciate the Travis County authorities who worked with us to apprehend this man,” Attorney General Abbott said. “This tough new law has made it a lot easier for us to nab these predators, because a person no longer has to actually show up for a rendezvous for us to arrest him. The fact that he solicits a meeting for sex with someone he believes to be a 13-year-old is enough.”

Dotson proposed a meeting for sex after he began chatting with the “girl” in July, but he never showed up for the scheduled meeting. The Cyber Crimes Unit then took the case to the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, which obtained a grand jury indictment against Dotson on Sept. 15. The Travis County Sheriff’s Office arrested Dotson at his home on Sept. 27.

Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature passed and Gov. Perry signed HB 2228, which amends Section 33 of the Texas Penal Code by making it a felony offense to “knowingly solicit” a minor to meet for sex. The law, which went into effect on June 18, explicitly prohibits the predator from claiming as a defense the fact that the meeting did not occur. Offenses under the new statute range from a state jail felony to a second-degree felony, depending on the circumstances.

Prior to the passage of this new law, the Cyber Crimes Unit typically arrested predators when they showed up for meetings they arranged during online chats with Cyber Crimes investigators who posed as minors.

Cracking down on sexual predators is a top priority of Attorney General Abbott’s administration. His Cyber Crimes and Fugitive units have arrested more than 320 sexual predators since he took office in December 2002. The Cyber Crimes Unit has made 65 arrests to date. The Fugitive Unit, which locates convicted child sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children, has arrested 225. In addition, the Fugitive Unit has arrested 35 unregistered sex offenders as part of Operation Missing Predator, a statewide initiative launched in April to locate and arrest convicted sex offenders who are not in compliance with sex offender registration requirements.

To find out more about Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to crack down on sexual predators, visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call (800) 252-8011.