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Wisconsin Court Of Appeals Upholds Criminal Convictions In Internet Sex-Sting Case; Court Finds No Violation Of Wisconsin's Electronic Surveillance Law

 

"This decision sends a special message to on-line sex predators," says Van Hollen.  "We will find you, arrest you, and bring you to justice."

 

MADISON - This morning, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals held that a special agent from the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and local police officers did not violate the state's Electronic Surveillance Control Law while posing as a mother and 12-year-old daughter willing to engage in sex.  The court affirmed John David Ohlinger's Racine County convictions for attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child and child enticement.

 

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen praised the court's ruling.  "This decision sends a special message to on-line sex predators," said Van Hollen.  "We will find you, arrest you, and bring you to justice."

 

Ohlinger created an Internet web page expressing an interest in sexual activity with young girls.  A DCI agent discovered the website and, posing as a mother with a 12-year-old daughter, began an e-mail conversation with Ohlinger.  The DCI agent then recruited two local, female police officers to participate in a telephone conversation with Ohlinger.  The telephone conversation led to a planned rendezvous at a truck stop, where Ohlinger was arrested.  The Racine County District Attorney's Office charged Ohlinger with attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child and child enticement.  Ohlinger's case went to trial, and he was convicted of both charges.

 

Ohlinger argued on appeal that the contents of the telephone conversation should have been suppressed under Wisconsin's Electronic Surveillance Control Law, which governs use of electronic intercepts of communications.  In pertinent part, the law permits use of intercepts made by a party to the communication who also consents to the intercept.  Adopting analysis provided by attorneys from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the court concluded that this portion of the law applies when one or more law enforcement officers are both the intercepting and consenting parties.

 

Ohlinger is currently serving his prison sentences at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin.

 

The decision and opinion of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals appears on the court's website:

http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=35869

Information regarding the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Unit appears on the Department's website

The Racine County District Attorney's Office represented the State of Wisconsin in Racine County Circuit Court.  Assistant Attorney General David J. Becker represented the State in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.