The Fantasy Defense

000524_andrews_patric_naughten CBS

He was a high-tech visionary, vice president of Infoseek. But repeatedly on the Internet, Patrick Naughton asked a 13-year-old girl for sex. Online, he was Hot Seattle. But she - KRISLA - was working undercover for the FBI.

When Naughton arranged to meet what he thought was an underage girl at the Santa Monica pier, he was arrested as what's now called a "traveler," a criminal who finds a child on the Web and then tries to meet them for sex.

CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports for "Eye on America" on this new type of crime that society is still weighing to determine its seriousness.
"This is a focused individual, a driven individual," argues the Center for Missing and Exploited Children's Ruben Rodriguez, adding that travelers are an alarming new threat in the Internet era.

"This individual went to commit an act, an illegal act; he went to victimize a child," Rodriguez says.

Sexual Predators
Read this interview by Wyatt Andrews of Special Agent Pete Gullotta about the FBI's "Innocent Images" operation.
That may be, but the jury in the Naughton case could not reach a verdict. His lawyer raised the groundbreaking concept called the "fantasy defense." Donald Marks argued teen sex was only a fantasy, and that Naughton as Hot Seattle would never have left the realm of cyberspace without the FBI luring him to the real world.

"This activity encourages a certain segment of our population to live out a fantasy where they would never act upon it; they would never ever act upon it otherwise," attorney Marks says.

To police, the fantasy defense was a stunner, especially with the FBI and local cops adding undercover agents every day to pose online as children.

There is also a debate about the seriousness of the travel crime.

Sexual Predators
Read How To Fight Off Online Predators, a special report by Wyatt Andrews.
In the case of George DeBeir, who met an agent posing as a 14-year-old at a Baltimore mall, a federal judge called it a victimless crime because Debeir had met the FBI, not a minor. His sentence was home detention.

U.S. Attorney Lynne Battaglia was so outraged she appealed and got Debeir a sentence of six months. "I've seen children who have actually had sex after a meeting suspects over the Internet....These defendants are more dangerous than they look," she says.

Dark Side Of The Web
CBS News Eye On America Investigation

Part One: Online Seduction

Part Two:Minding the Cyber Neighborhood
What she means is, look at the race and class of travelers: A Los Alamos scientist; a former Denver cop; the CEO of Ibeam.com, DeBeir, who was a Belgian diplomat; Naughton of Infoseek. This new-age crime wave is white, and it matters.

Prosecutors say what's happening is racial profiling in reverse. That's because most of these defendants are well-off white men with jobs, judges and juries are looking for ways to be lenient.

Naughton, after winning the hung jury, recently pleaded guilty to traveling, thus avoiding a second public trial. He faces sentencing in June.

But the debate still rages. Was he a fantacizer drawn out of his computer to meet the agent on that pier, or a new type of high-tech pedophile created on the dark side of the Web?

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

On Twitter