Friday, January 25, 2008

U.S. v. Cherer (9th Cir. - Jan. 25, 2008)

I've said it before. It remains true. I'll say it again:

When you're a 35 year old man, and engaging in sex talk with an alleged 14-year old girl, that's not actually a 14-year old girl on the other computer. It's the FBI.

Paris Cherer found that out the hard way. And will get to remember that fact for the next 25 years. In prison.

Parenthetically, Judge Noonan has a very interesting dissent to the sentence here. He notes that Cherer gets 25 years for trying to meet an alleged 14-year old in a hotel to have sex; in other words, for a crime with a nonexistent victim and no actual harm. By contrast, under the sentencing guidelines, you only get 8-17 years for an actual forcible rape of a real victim. And Judge Noonan contrasts the present case -- and 25 year sentence -- with a Ninth Circuit forcible rape case in which the defendant got 7 years, and argues that it's hard to argue "that Cherer’s clumsy effort to obtain forbidden sex was over three times more heinous" than the actual rape that got 7 years.

Ultimately, Judge Noonan gets outvoted, and the majority says that the 25 year sentence seems fine (even if seemingly high). But he still articulates an interesting perspective. And it is indeed hard to argue that 25 years is the right sentence for an internet attempt at sex with a minor but 7 years is the right sentence for a completed forcible rape.