The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in South Dakota has ruled a sex crime conviction doesn't require that there's an actual victim.
The court last week upheld the conviction of a man stemming from a sting operation during the 2017 Sturgis motorcycle rally.
Carlocito Slim argued he was just looking for a massage when he responded to an ad on the Backpage website under the headline "Women Seeking Men." Slim was actually responding to an ad that was a sting setup and unknowingly texted a special agent with South Dakota's Division of Criminal Investigation.
The agent, posing as a pimp, told Slim he could meet a 15-year-old girl. And when Slim showed up at the assigned meeting place with condoms and $200 he was arrested and later convicted of two federal felonies.
Slim argued there couldn't be a conviction because there was no pimp and no crime victim.
Defense attorney Terry Pechota told the judges his client simply didn't understand the text communications and was only looking for a massage, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reported.
"He doesn't ask about whether or not the girl is 16, or whether they're going to engage in any funny stuff or illegal stuff," Pechota said. "He says, 'Are you available? Do you offer a massage?'"
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Kelderman said Slim knew what was going on and later told investigators he thought he was meeting a girl for sex.
The appeals panel said case law allows a suspect to be charged if he or she intended to have sex with a minor, even if there was no actual minor.
In August, Slim was sentenced to two 10-year sentences for "attempted commercial sex trafficking of a minor and attempted enticement of a minor using the internet."
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