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October 3, 2006

Holy moly Foley!

Details about former Rep. Foley's unsavory behavior continues to dribble out: the ABC news blog and CNN are now both reporting that "Former Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) interrupted a vote on the floor of the House in 2003 to engage in Internet sex with a high school student who had served as a congressional page."  For law geeks, this latest revelation leads to interesting legal questions about whether "Internet sex" qualifies as "sexual activity" under various potentially applicable state and federal criminal laws.

Those thinking through criminal law issues might be interested in the early numbers from an ABC poll asking: "What sort of punishment is appropriate for former Congressman Mark Foley"?  With 10,000 responses as of 5pm EDT, almost 75% are already indicating that "He should face criminal charges," with another 20% saying "Not sure. The case needs to be investigated further."  Less than 5% of respondents indicate that they think he has been punished enough because "He has already resigned from his position."

Some recent related posts:

UPDATE:  Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy does a strong job here walking through some of the legal issues raised if (and when?) federal prosecutors consider pursuing federal charges against Foley.  And TChris here at TalkLeft spotlights that Foley's still-emerging excuses for his behavior are very unlikely to shift public opinion that is obviously so solidly against him.

ANOTHER UPDATE:  Consider the developing Foley saga against the backdrop of this local article from Pennsylvania discussing an event in which State Attorney General Tom Corbett warned high school students about "clean-cut" predators using the internet to try to arrange sexual encounters with young people.  This closing passage from the article is especially interesting:

Students peppered Corbett with questions after the talk, asking him why people become predators and how much jail time they face.  Corbett said the penalties could range from a few years for someone who attempts to have sex with a young person, to more than a decade if they carry out the act.  ''The [sentencing] guidelines haven't caught up with what is happening with technology and crimes,'' he said.

October 3, 2006 at 05:15 PM | Permalink


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Tracked on Oct 4, 2006 11:10:37 AM


er, dribble out? kind of an unappetizing image

Posted by: Brian | Oct 3, 2006 5:18:57 PM

Arguably, internet sex could constitute a federal offense -- a violation of 18 U.S.C. 2422(b) -- if the communications involved the enticement of a minor to engage in prohibited sexual conduct. Indeed, the Government takes the position that no actual sex need occur. Rather, the violation is complete when an adult entices a minor to engage in sex. In other words, it is the enticement that is the offense -- sort of like conspiracy law.

How do I know this? I recently had just such a case. How was is worse? It did not involve an actual minor. Rather, it involved only an undercover FBI agent.

In a word, Foley may have a real problem if the transcripts of those "internet sex" sessions were saved on his or another's computer.

Posted by: Harlan Protass | Oct 3, 2006 6:16:05 PM

just look at all those guys that get caught on NBC-dateline, the transcripts of their posts with the undercover agent posing as an underage girl are always used against them in prosecutions.

Posted by: brian | Oct 3, 2006 7:41:25 PM

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