Tuesday, July 12, 2016

People v. Ranlet (Cal. Ct. App. - July 11, 2016)

Usually I'm impressed with how adult investigators can trick pedophiles into incriminating themselves by pretending to be someone they are not.  It's typically pretty good police work.

Not so much, however, in this case.

An FBI agent is trying to crack an online child pornography/exploitation group.  The group is forced to change its names at various times to avoid scrutiny, and in its current iteration, ostensibly pretends to be a group that's interested in PT Cruisers, with the title “ptcruzer".

That's a play on words, however.  The title really means "pre-teen cruiser"; i.e., cruising for preteen child pornography or child molestation.  But group members post messages that pretend to be talking about cars.

Anyway, the FBI agent infiltrates the group, and locates defendant's profile.  "Defendant's user profile for the Yahoo account included: the nickname “M.D. DADDY,” location of central California, an age of 35, male gender, marital status of divorced, and occupation of '[f]reelance gynecology and photographer.' Hobbies were listed as, 'Relaxing, chatting, looking for that one female who has very few limits . . . my only limits are scat, bloodplay, and permanent damage.' A favorite quote was listed as, 'Will you shut the fuck up!!! It doesn't hurt that bad!!!'"

Seems like a guy you might want to investigate.  Especially if he's in a "pre-teen cruiser" chat room and sends a message -- which he did -- that says:  "Just wondering if any females out there are near Sacramento, Cali who wanna play with me and my 7-year-old daughter.”

As an FYI, defendant is allegedly molesting his 7-year old daughter at the time.  Apparently he's trying to get others in on the deal as well.  The sick bastard.

So then he sends out another group message.  You'll see what I mean about the group pretending to talk about cars.  The message reads:  "Hey all . . . I am a single male with a 7-year-old almost 8-year-old model. [¶] I have been doing lots of maintenance on my cruzer (lube jobs, engine play. . . et cetera) but haven't 'opened' it up yet that much. [¶] I am looking for a female passenger to be with me when I do. And she can do some driving if she wants. [¶] I am in the Sacramento, Cali area and so should you be too. [¶] I am looking for a long-term relationship as . . . Well having a cruzer of your own is not necessary but it is a plus . . . lol.”

So now the case gets referred to the California Department of Justice.  And an agent for the California DOJ follows up on this lead, creates a Yahoo! account, and writes to the defendant, saying:

“Hi. It's Janette. I‟m not sure if you remember me. I used to be a member of the ptcruzer but my computer crashed and I am just now back up. [¶] I live in Sacramento area and if I remember correctly you do too. [¶] I have a 12-year-old daughter Hope. It's just she and I and we [have] a very open and loving relationship. [¶] You and I spoke of having things in common but I don‟t want to share too much unless you remember me. [¶] We can talk more. Janette.”

Defendant takes the bait.  He responds the very same day.  He says:  "Hi. . . Yes, I am a member of the ptcruzer group. . . I don't remember chatting with you before but would love to chat sometime. I'm usual[ly] on in the evenings at 8 p.m.'ish. Just p.m. me. Would love to talk about you and your daughter and me and mine.”

Okay, so now the agent tries to reel him in a bit.  She responds the next day.  And it's a very good response, I think.  She says:  "Hi. I'm so glad you‟re interested in talking more. It's so hard to find like minded people that share the same interests, especially with a daughter who's close in age to mine. [¶] Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? I'm Janette and have a 12- year-old daughter Hope. She is a beautiful daughter and very curious. I was taught about my body at an early age and have done the same with Hope. Associate doesn't seem to agree with this so I must be very discrete. [¶] Hope is my life and I must be very careful. Obviously, not being a man, I don't have all the tools to help in Hope's teaching. [¶] I work a lot so it's difficult to be online around 8:00. I will definitely check for you when I am. Are any other times good for you?”

Defendant's hooked.  The next day, he responds:  "Hi Janette. I myself also started at a very young age. My daughter is also as curious as I was when I was her age. Excuse me, but before we go on, maybe I should let you know a little of what I am looking for/not looking for. [¶] Not looking to cyber, looking to chat. Not looking to C2C/looking to meet. Looking for long-term commitment and not just a one-time thing. Someone into the same interests as me. [¶] If this is the same for you, then by all means p.m. me or email me back. LOL. [¶] Also, do you have any pics? Mine are in my photos if you want to go there.”

So he's not looking to have cybersex.  He wants actual contact.  Mutual molestation, or whatever else he's into.  Maybe share some child pornography as well.

Sounds like a guy definitely worth catching.

Good job getting this far.

But at that point, the California DOJ agent, in my view, massively drops the ball.  She waits four days to respond.  And when she does respond, she says that Yahoo! seems "difficult to use," so wants to switch their conversation to AOL.  Which he presumably finds strange, if only because she's on the Yahoo! forum already.  And what's so hard about it anyway?

So he never responds.  And continues to allegedly molest his daughter until he's eventually caught and charged some many years later.

I understand that even the police don't necessarily work on weekends. And that guys like this may well be suspicious.

But still.  I thought that this could have gone much better than it did.