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Monday, July 24, 2017

Only in MN, Adult Who Claims Sexting a Child is Free Speech Halts 13 County Child Trafficking Cases

8-10-17 update: Petition was filed with the US Supreme Court by the accused on 8-4-2017. The Supreme Court will likely agree to hear the case thus further delaying the trials in Washington County.
Only in Minnesota, would there be a district court to not only agree to hear a case, let alone rule in favor, that sending sexual texts to a child would be protected under free speech. Only in MN would the appeals court uphold this terrible ruling. Or so it seems MN would be the only state too afraid to crack down on something even when it slaps us across the face. A freeway bridge tragically fell killing 13 before we put major attention on our crumbling and over capacity roads and bridges. We are the number one State for radical Islam recruitment to ISIS. We spent a quarter billion dollars on a MNsure website over 3 years before the Governor would admit this "Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable." We built a $350 million dollar Northstar light rail corridor that's so expensive it'd been more affordable to purchase each of the riders a new Toyota Prius every year for 30 years (Center for the American Experiment); yet we keep building more expecting different results. Minnesota sex offender laws are so bad that Minnesota was rated the state with the weakest sex offender laws according to study in this Kare11 story. Washington County alone has ten cases in just two years that confirms this finding by protect,org

This case, from Dakota County, is of a 41 year old adult who sent sexually explicit texts and messages to a child and is called Muccio vs. Minnesota. Due to the defendant challenging the charges, and favorable lower court rulings, it has held up most of the child trafficking cases in Washington County and across the rest of the State ever since. Washington County has caught over 30 men in child sex trafficking/ prostitution stings dating back to 2014 (see: least 13 of the cases remain in standstill pre-trial until the final ruling on this related Muccio case as it appears likely it will go to the US Supreme Court. update: Petition was filed with the US Supreme Court on 8-4-2017.

The Muccio case stems from 2014 when a father found his 15 year old had porn on his I-pad that he saw were sent to him via private messages on Instagram. He went to the police. Law enforcement found the porn came from Krista Ann Muccio’s Instagram account via direct message. She was cafeteria staff at the child's school Inver Grove Heights public school. It was found that Muccio and the child had sexually explicit conversations and had exchanged sexually explicit pictures. Dakota County charged Muccio with one count of felony communication with a minor in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.352, subd.2a(2), and a second count of felony possession child porn in violation of Minn. Stat. § 617.247, subd. 4(a). Muccio filed a motion at the district court to declare sexual communication with a minor unconstitutional under the reason of protected free speech.

The lower district court ruled in Muccio's favor on this act of sexually communicating with a minor was free speech. The judge was Patrice Sutherland; but her term expired after 27 years as judge, replaced by Judge Jaymie Cork . The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the disgusting decision after Dakota County challenged it. The judges in that case were listed as: 
"Considered and decided by" Judge Peter M. Reyes (Dayton appointed), 
"Presiding Judge"; Kevin G. Ross (Pawlenty); 
and Judge Tracy Smith (Dayton).

Dakota County challenged the MN Court of appeals decision bringing the case to the MN Supreme Court. Finally, common sense prevailed and twisted interpretation of the constitution failed, ruling sexual communication with a minor is not free speech. Dakota County prosecutors responded to email explaining Muccio's petition requesting review is due to the US Supreme Court by August 4, 2017. If filed by this date and accepted by the court than this could continue to postpone the 13 pending cases here in Washington County further. 

Cases like Ian Walford of Lake Elmo who in 2014 was arrested after he's accused of making arrangements to meet with who he thought were a 14 and 15 year old children for sex according to the criminal complaint. When Ian Laurence Walford arrived at the hotel he was arrested and stated people like him who “hypothetically” use prostitutes have needs and they may move forward with having sex with the underage because that’s all they have to work with. 

These 13 remaining County child trafficking/ prostitution sting cases (and future cases) depend on the Muccio court decision because the men caught in the stings were communicating with undercover law enforcement acting as minors. If Muccio takes it to the US Supreme Court and the law is found unconstitutional then the accused child predators can also claim it was their right of free speech to communicate with a minor about sexual acts. 

This 2007 law against soliciting minors and sexual communication with children, Minn. Stat. § 609.352, including the challenged section subd.2a(2) concerning the latter has been an area of focus for us at Washington County Watchdog.  Several of our all volunteer team, work hard to promote law change. Most of us are parents of children who have been sexually assaulted in Washington County by these predators. Sexual assault that could have possibly been prevented with better laws. 

Nearly two years ago we asked law makers to require sex offenders who break this law to have to register as sex offenders. They were successful on making this common sense request law; but only subdivision 2a(1) concerning soliciting a minor for sex. After the law went into effect Washington County stopped charging child predators they caught in their child trafficking stings with this crime. Pointing out the fact the accused would not plead guilty if they had to register. According to the County prosecutor Imran Ali, trial is very expensive and one case can back up the County Attorney's office. The criminal division prosecute over 800 criminal cases a year according to the 2016 budget (p,294). So like it or not, the county pivoted with the law change and started charging child predators responding to child trafficking stings with subd 2a(2), sexual communication with a minor. Perhaps because it doesn't require registration and they're more likely to get them to plead guilty and avoid trial.

We're working on getting 2a(2), sexual communication with a minor, to also require sex offender registration. If passed prosecutors won't be so easily pushed by charged child predators who know they can get a plea deal since there are still child sex crimes that do not require registration. Please check out our other logical bill ideas that all have passage in other States. Ideas such as lifetime sex offender registration instead of current max of 10 years for level 1 & 2 offenders.
Rampant Sex Crime on Children, in Just 2yrs, 10 Cases From County Alone, 8 Simple Laws to Update

Please also contact your legislators to personally tell them you'd like them to take the time to either author or co-sponsor bills to update weak MN sex offender laws and weak MN sentencing guidelines. The issue is bi-partisan with local legislators signing onto sex offender bill ideas we come up with. Most ideas being to make every child sex offense require registration. Examples include Representative Joann Ward (D) who signed onto a bill two years ago that passed to make the same punishment for Criminal Sexual Conduct the same whether the victim was 17 months old or 17 years old. Previously, punishments were lighter the older the child victim. Last session, we spoke with Senator Karin Housley (R) several times showing her our bill ideas. But time ran out before the March 8th deadline to author any. However, she added her name to HF184/ SF636 that:
1.) Make "Interferes with the privacy" of a minor 609.746.1(e)(2)  have to register as a sex offender if convicted
2.) Make stalking or pursuing a minor with sexual or aggressive intent 609.749, subdivision 3, paragraph (b) have to register as a sex offender if convicted

Representative Tony Cornish (R), chair of the Public Safety Committee, was the original author of this bill. He was responsive to us when we asked him to author the bill. We told him of Caleb Wolfgram on our list (about a 1/4 down the page) in 2016 he sexually assaulted a 12 year old child in the Forest Lake target. He had been convicted in 2014 and again in 2015 of interfering with the privacy of a minor for spying on kids changing in the Woodbury Gap store and in a tanning facility.

You can tell law makers about your child being violently sexually assaulted and give them the exact law to fix to prevent it from happening to someone else's child; but they are unmotivated it seems until the public catches on. One example of many horror stories, we contacted them about a recently convicted rapist in Woodbury who admitted unapologetic to police he raped a 13 year old girl "over 130 times;" but was only sentenced to 8 years. Convicted of having a significant relationship with someone under 16 and not child rape as he should have been tried. His name is Eric Duncan, DOB 8-31-1984; but you won't find him if you google his name... 

Follow us on facebook and twitter to stay informed of these local cases that rarely make it through the media.

We encourage you to contact your legislators to fix the law; but most important is providing help to the local victims. Many groups are out there doing great work across the State. At WCW our focus is local, sharing Washington County related stories to emphasize the reality that sex crime is too common here. But our work doesn't help the shattered victims. So we highly recommend helping local victims through a local group called EmpowerSurvivors. They are a peer led 501(c3) non-profit group for those affected by sexual abuse. One of the many ways they help is by holding free weekly meetings in Stillwater as a safe place. They also host free and private online support on their website and blog. The founder, Elizabeth Sullivan, is a survivor of child sexual abuse and has devoted her life to helping victims here in the Washington County area. Every cent donated goes to their mission of "survivors helping survivors." Their new location in downtown Stillwater could use office supplies such as a printer, pens, paper and more.  Of course any donation amount helps. You can also use Paypal for a one time gift.

While the public can find hope and security if laws and sentencing guidelines can improve; the victims of sex crime in Washington County are left shattered by the crime even if the offender is punished to the fullest extent of the law. Contact elected officials; but also consider the important step of supporting victims. Please consider donating to EmpowerSurvivors here in Washington County. Find out more at 

*In no way do we wish harm to the convicted sex offenders outside the judgement of the law. Posting each criminal's data allows the public to decide from the evidence if they appreciate knowing such data. Such as what these sex offender's last known address is. No representation is made that the individuals listed here are currently on the state's offenders registry. All names presented here were gathered at a past date. Some persons listed might no longer be registered offenders and others might have been added. Some addresses or other data might no longer be current. Owners of Washington County Watchdog assume no responsibility (and expressly disclaim responsibility) for updating this site to keep information current or to ensure the accuracy or completeness of any posted information. All data was only accurate at the time of posting per Government sources provided. Accordingly, you should confirm the accuracy and completeness of all posted information before making any decision related to any data presented on this site. The information on this web site is made available solely to protect the public. Anyone who uses this information to commit a crime or to harass an offender or his or her family is subject to criminal prosecution and civil liability. Message us if you can verify us of an address or change in data.  Washington County Watchdog is not responsible for the accuracy of the content shared, refer to our linked government sources.