Online Crime Yields Prison Time

By: Andrea Wilcox
By: Andrea Wilcox

A crackdown on Internet sex predators yields Washington County's first prison sentence.

The criminal behind the computer screen was in front of the courts Thursday morning.

"I'm sorry, it shouldn't have happened.”

Sorry didn't work for 28-year-old Raymond White. He was sentenced to nine months in prison for an online crime White committed six months ago.

The northern Ohio man was arrested after traveling to Marietta to meet with a girl he thought was a minor, but turned out to be a cop.

Detective Carrie Smithberger said, "I think the judge's sentence was fair in this case and I'm glad to see it's over."

It was a unique situation and the first crime of its nature for Washington County prosecutors to handle. Jim Schneider says White pled guilty to an importuning charge, or soliciting a minor for sex.

He says only in recent years have Ohio laws evolved to allow for harsher punishments when online chatters turn into possible predators.

"Importuning itself used to be a misdemeanor crime, not a felony crime. They've changed that in the last three years, because of the explosion or discovery of the Internet, and people are actually going out and trying to solicit sex with minors or attempting to do so."

White's attempt landed him a felony charge and in the trap of an undercover online stint, something else Ohio law now dictates.

"The importuning statute was then changed a couple of years ago to expand it's definition to actually include a crime to cover situations where people on the Internet are talking to someone who they think is a 14 years old and is actually a law enforcement officer."

While the law evolves, targeting online predators continues in Washington County.

White may have been the first, but certainly not the last. White also must register as a sexually oriented offender. He has spent the last six months in jail, awaiting sentencing. He does get credit for that time, meaning he will serve only three more months in prison.

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