Online Child Molestation: Can You Be Convicted if You Never Touched the Victim?
Is it possible to commit child molestation without ever touching a child? Do you even have to be in the same proximity as the victim to be convicted of this crime? The crime of child molestation is generally thought to require physical contact with a victim, but the recent conviction of a California man shows that technology has changed the way this crime is prosecuted.
A San Diego elementary school teacher was convicted on 33 of 36 counts involving online sex acts with minors, including possession of child pornography and child molestation. His attorney believes the child molestation convictions are a first of their kind because his client never made physical contact with his victims.1
So why was he convicted?
The Crime of Child Molestation
Generally, when the term “child molestation” is used in a news story, it is used as a catch-all term covering a broad range of criminal acts. Many times, what is commonly known as “child molestation” is actually lewd acts with a minor under California Penal Code section 288.
A closer look at this law reveals you do not actually need to touch a child to be convicted of lewd acts with a minor. To convict you of this crime, the prosecution must prove the following:
- You willfully touched any part of a child’s body OR you willfully caused a child to touch his or her own body, your body, or another person’s body; AND
- You did so with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passion, or sexual desires of yourself or of the child.2
In the case involving the San Diego teacher, he allegedly posed as a teenage girl online to convince young boys to send him nude photos. Prosecutors were able to convict him of online child molestation because, according to the elements of this crime, you can be convicted of lewd acts with a minor even if you never made physical contact with the alleged victim. Additionally, nothing in the law requires you to be in the same vicinity of the child in order to be convicted of lewd acts with a minor.
Wallin & Klarich Can Help You Fight Child Molestation Charges
If you have been accused of any crime related to contacting a minor for a sexual purpose, you are facing a serious accusation that is going to require the help of an aggressive attorney. That is why you should contact our experienced sex crimes defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich immediately. With over 30 years of experience, our attorneys have the skill and knowledge necessary to successfully defend you. We are committed to providing you with the best defense available to help you overcome this difficult situation.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide you with the very best legal representation. We will employ every available strategy to help you get the best result possible in your case.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. R. Stickney, “San Diego Man Is First in California to Be Found Guilty of Molesting Children Online: Atty,” NBC 7 San Diego, June 4, 2015, available at http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/California-First-Conviction-of-Child-Molestation-Through-the-Internet-306161581.html?_osource=Newltr_Station_Hdlines_SanDiego href=”#ref1″>↩
2. Tara Marhefka, “How Accurate are Sex Offender Registries?” Examiner.com, November 29, 2011, available at http://www.examiner.com/article/how-accurate-are-sex-offender-registries. href=”#ref2″>↩