Charges Dismissed Against Former Child Sex Crimes Prosecutor For Lack Of Actual Minor In FBI Sting

8820753-smallThere is an interesting ruling out of Mobile, Alabama where former child sex crimes prosecutor, Steve Giardini, was charged with solicitation of a minor over the computer. Special Judge Gaines McCorquodale dismissed the charge on a key missing element under the statute: an actual victim. Since Giardini was speaking with an undercover officer posing as a 15-year-old girl, McCorquodale ruled that there was no victim as required under the language of the statute for child enticement. Essentially, no child, no enticement, no charge.

According to the FBI agent, the agent assumed the identity of a teenage girl named Daphne. The agent said in the affidavit Giardini said that he wanted to meet the girl and that the two discussed the importance of not getting caught by her mother. This included conversations over the phone with the agent using a voice changing technology. The agent said that Giardini asked the girl if she had ever had sex and invited her to use the swimming pool and hot tub at his home and that they could go to the beach at Perdido Key in Florida. The agent also said that Giardini asked her to take off her clothes and masturbate so that he could hear as well as asking her to take a topless photo once her mother was gone.

Giardini had already been tried on the charges, which resulted in a hung jury. The split was not particularly close — 7-5.

McCorquodale noted that “[t]he issue becomes whether or not that statute can be applicable to an undercover agent purporting to be a fifteen (15) year old female child.” A state appellate court had previously dismissed a case based on the same problem and the judge followed the same reasoning. He also dismissed a related charge of solicitation of obscene matter of a child on the same grounds. He found that “the state is faced with the issue that there is no actual victim in the case. As a result, there was no actual production of any photograph or attempted production of any photograph of breast nudity of a child under the age of sixteen (16). That evidence is undisputed here.”

Giardini was a 20-year veteran who was prosecuting child sex offenses when he was nabbed in the sting operation. He was accused of having an almost four-month-long correspondence with the “child”. He resigned after the FBI searched his home.

The question is whether Giardini will now be charged by federal prosecutors. Like other areas, Congress has created dual state-federal crimes for online solicitation. Many civil libertarians have objected in the past that acquittals in state court are followed by basically the same charge in federal courts. Yet, federal courts have refused to enforce double jeopardy protections in such cases.

This would be a bit different since, while tried earlier to a hung jury, Giardini secured dismissal on a legal question.

Giardini’s lawyer argues that the ex-prosecutor had long conversations with many other counterparts, mostly adults. He insists that a request for a topless photo was unclear — an argument supported by the earlier hung jury. Yet, it is not clear, if the agent is telling the truth, how many adults were asked to avoid their mothers and discuss whether they were virgins.

The question is now whether such allegations should strip Giardini of his bar license even without federal charges. If the agent’s affidavit is to be believed, Giardini encouraged a 15-year-old girl to avoid her mother, take topless photos, and visit him without parental consent. If the bar believes the allegations, I would find it hard to be convinced that he could serve as an attorney and officer of the court.

Source: WKRG

20 thoughts on “Charges Dismissed Against Former Child Sex Crimes Prosecutor For Lack Of Actual Minor In FBI Sting

  1. Since when does the State need an actual victim?
    That hasn’t been required in decades , if not longer.
    Coulda , woulda, shouldas have been prosecuted for awhile now.

  2. If they charged him with only actual solicitation of a minor, then it should be dismissed; what I don’t understand is why they didn’t also charge him with attempting to, or intending to, which I think he might have the elements for in his behavior.

    FYI, I am very skeptical of these types of crimes. Consent should be based upon competency, not age alone.

  3. I wonder how many people would be incarcerated except for the entrapment …… This decision is opening the box in many arenas…… Appealable issues …. Next…..

  4. If the elements of the crime are not met, no conviction may be upheld. Simple as that

    The issue before his bar hearing is another matter, due to it being based in large part on ethics. Ethics in my view would preclude the atty from being permitted a law license due to his belief that he was seducing a child and carried out an act to complete (at least in his mind) the crime. Especially aggravating in this case was he was a prosecutor specializing in child abuse cases. Trust goes out the window here.

    This law minor in communication law would be difficult to construe unless it was changed to include belief of the other party being a child in very explicit ways.

    An example: In our state we have a counterfeit controlled substance law where a person can be prosecuted for selling what he / she proffers to be a controlled substance when in fact it is not. The tool in this law is that if someone is arrested for VUCSA the state can still win in court on the counterfeit controlled substance clause.

    Interestingly, our felony hit and run statute had to be modified to include ” involving striking the body of a deceased person” because formerly the defense could claim the person might have been dead prior to being hit by the defendant and without the element the defendant could articulate the victim had died prior to being hit and the case would be tossed.

  5. If I ever turn to a life of crime, I want that judge to work my case.

    If I break into houses but find nothing worth taking, I can tell the judge I didn’t actually steal since I didn’t take anything. He’ll dismiss the charges. Or if I murder someone and no one finds the body, he’ll say there was no murder. Ain’t life grand?

  6. The guy (and all those like him preying on children) is a reprehensible low life who should be shut away for life but he was not doing what he thought he was doing. He was conversing with an adult whom he never met and who was acting (pretending to be a person she was not).

    Authorities all over the western world are constantly running these operations to catch potential criminals (as frequently reported in the media) presumably on the basis that if you catch them and jail them before they actually commit a real crime then you are helping society. Sounds really good – right?

    So why not extend this same principle to all other crimes and then we can prosecute and jail people that may potentially commit an actual crime but have not done so. Nevertheless we do just in case as in the instance of the above prosecution. For example lets charge with intent anyone playing one of those dreadful computer games where people are tracked to be killed, women are raped etc etc. There are thosusands of horrific /horrible games of this type (which in my view should be banned). Then we can prosecute these people just in case they might actually commit one of these crimes they are simulating with their computers.

    This guy might have got off but in most other cases where people have been trapped with the same deception and acting skills they are prosecuted and jailed and I don’t have any sympathy for them.

    You would have thought that the law enforcers had enough actual crime to investigate and prosecute to take up their resources. Apparently not. They obviously have so much time on their hands that they can go fishing for potential criminals now.

  7. I have to correct my post and mention that Gary T is correct in his statement about a criminal attempt for doing this could be prosecuted, at least in Washington State.

    Here is an excerpt from the Washington State Supreme Court ruling. Essentially police set up two young looking female officers to pose and proffer themselves as 17 year olds who were recruited by the defendants to engage in sexual acts to which the defendants would receive money.

    IN PROSECUTION FOR ATTEMPTED PROMOTION OF COMMERCIAL SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINOR STATE MUST PROVE DEFENDANT KNEW VICTIM WAS A MINOR, BUT DEFENDANT MAY BE CONVICTED EVEN WHERE “VICTIMS” ARE ADULT UNDERCOVER POLICE OFFICERS – State v. Johnson, 173 Wn.2d 895 (Feb. 23, 2012) the Washington State Supreme Court holds that a defendant can be found guilty of attempted promotion of commercial sexual abuse of a minor when the defendant intends the criminal result of the crime, believes that the intended victim is a minor (even if the victim is an adult posing as a minor), and takes a substantial step toward the commission of the crime.

    source: June 2012 edition of Washington State CJTC Law Enforcement Digest

  8. Sounds to me as if the Washington State statute cited by Darren is spot on and covers the sting aspect. I don’t think police need to be required to use an actual minor for sting operations, since that would put the police in violation of the law. As everyone here knows, Mens Rea requires intent, and there was certainly intent present on the part of the perp.

    I see this ruling as having more widespread implications. Fake drug dealers, prostitution stings and others could have convictions tossed under this convoluted reasoning.

  9. Advice needed. I am trying to help a man who, at age 20, was on a ‘net chat that he believed did not permit anyone under the age of 18. He chatted about sex with an undercover officer. No phone calls, no plans no meet (his car was in repair; he did not have the $$ to travel; he had no way of knowing the other party, claiming to be 13, was not actually an ugly 50 yr. old, etc.) An arrest warrant and search warrant were issued, his computers and other electronics were confiscated, he was indicted, jailed, released on bond, prohibited from using a computer (which meant he could not go to college because there are computers at college), must abide by a 6 pm curfew, lost his job when the parole officer notified his employer he was a sex offender. Now he is insisting on a trial to prove innocence and is threatened with immediate imprisonment if he does not plead guilt.

    He had 3 public defenders in the past four years since this happened; all left the PD office. Today he has no lawyer. I want to find someone who will fight for him. The police did get his internet history, and this was a first “offense” (if it actually is–I view it more as “dirty talk” rather than solicitation).

    Anyone with advice can contact me directly ggwolk (at) or my toll free (in NC) 888-798-2665.

    Note: I do not know this young man. I was asked to help because I live in his state and have great concern about young people who are coerced into false confessions. I do have copies of all the evidence and spoke with him a few times by phone.

  10. The big picture here has to do with actual threats to children. While this guy probably intended to hook up with a 15 year old, you can’t be prosecuted for what’s in your mind (well, you can, but you shouldn’t).

    The big picture is this: 95% of all sex offenses are perpetrated by the victims family, friends, or trusted adults. While these kinds of stories make for great headlines, they do not do anything to put a dent in sex offenses. Sex offenses committed by a stranger are very rare. While we waste tons of resources in sting operations to “catch” people who “might” be an offender, real offenders are abusing children every day. Chances are you know an abuser. Between 10-23% of all children are abused behind the white picket fences while everyone thinks everything is “normal”.

    The other thing to think about is the enormous expense of law enforcement actions like this. Studies have shown that these police actions made absolutely zero difference to the actual rates of child abuse. However, they consume vast amounts of money. The officers are just doing their job, but this isn’t their job. Abuse is a social problem. It has never and will never be solved with police actions. Sure, there are certain individuals who require police action, but that number is very small.

    Instead of filling out prisons with damaged people, wouldn’t it be awesome if we prevented abuse in the first place? We can’t do both because of tight budgets. These sting operations are popular because we, the public, love to see the stories on the news. Meanwhile, somebody in YOUR neighborhood is being abused right now, and nothing is ever going to be done about it.

    Education, treatment, and therapy are a lot cheaper and more effective than all of this TV police stuff. If in fact you care about children, you should do whatever works, regardless of what you think about it. These types of operations have been going on for a long time, have never been shown to curtail abuse, but have succeeded in putting a lot of people in jail, destroying families, and further victimizing children.

  11. LJW67 is exactly right. SInce I posted asking for advice, I’ve done extensive research. I now know that when criminal solicitation of a minor is prosecuted by the feds, the minor could be a 60 year old investigator: It does matter. It also seems nearly every state treats this the same, and states all over the nation have investigators busy luring men of all ages, in some cases enticing them in a variety of ways. Think: entrapment.

    Why? There are billions in federal money available, and the amount paid to each state depends on the numbers of convictions. The result is innocent people are being targeted, coerced into pleading guilty–just to get a conviction. There is a price on their heads.

    Earlier, when I wrote about the 20 year old, I did not fully understand all the facts. It is worse than I described. I have since perused all the “evidence” turned over by the public defender’s office. Age never was mentioned in the transcripts; no phone numbers exchanged; no meeting set up. When a potential perp goes to meet a minor and is grabbed, that’s one thing. But someone who did not show intent?

    In this case the chat never existed. Or the investigator (from a piss-water boondocks town) created it or modified one from another investigation. No wonder he did not include a meeting. The young man would not have shown up.

    But an arrest was made although the police never attempted to trace the messages to his ISP, never mind to his computer. When they searched his house and seized all his digital equpt. and him, it was based on an affidavit filled with false information, thereby duping the magistrate to issue a warrant. Then they crossed state lines to nab the young–with a fugitive arrest warrant. He was not a fugitive. But the judge in the neighboring state believed the police who swore to it.

    Now that I have a ton of evidence on his behalf, we need a legal fund. I am looking for a nonprofit to receive tax deductible donations and write checks. I don’t want to handle the money. I’ll do the marketing so that we can afford to employ a competent lawyer and a forensic computer specialist.

    If you recognize this huge injustice and are aware that status as a Registered Sex Offender is a life-curtailing sentence, I hope you will help me spread the word. Once I “hook up” with a nonprofit, I will launch a nationwide campaign. There will be two goals, the second being to alert the public to the huge risk to our children and granchildren who, like the Duke Lacross players, are young, trusting, vulnerable targets. But they were fortunate. Their parents could afford the best lawyers. Most victims have to depend on pubic defenders who, as in Michael’s case, do not even look at the evidence, and urge a plea deal just to get the case off their desks.

  12. Thanks for the clarification. Exactly, they go after the low-hanging fruit, because making a real difference is hard!

    I’ve discovered one thing that proves the intent of law enforcement. When you try to solve a problem, in this case child sexual abuse, you have to define the problem. I’ve yet to see them actually define the problem in terms of victims, they continually claim non-contact offenders were “going” to offend which isn’t true. Next they would have to test their definition to see if it fits the facts. They don’t. Studies have already shown that these sting operations get a population that might be 1% likely to catch an actual hands on offender.

    Next you have to measure. This is where they are really showing they have no intention of actually making a difference. You have to measure child sexual abuse before the operations, then after to determine the efficacy. I’ve searched high and low and the ONLY number all local/state/federal agencies keep are arrests. Not convictions mind you, arrests. When they talk about recidivism amongst ex offenders, they record arrests, not convictions. Not one agency tracks victims, rates of abuse before and after, or anything else that actually matters.

    The reason they don’t is because plenty of studies have already been done around the world that show since these sting operations have started, they have made no statistical difference what so ever in the rate of abuse. For 30 years all crimes have been in decline. Child abuse overall has been in decline as well. These sting operations haven’t made a dent in the rate of child abuse, it’s on the same trajectory that it was before.

    However, other countries have tried something different as pointed out in some other posts. Decriminalizing some of these behaviors (child porn in particular) has shown a significant drop in the rates of child abuse. May be counter intuitive, but the facts speak for themselves. The other benefit is, decriminalization leads into the right path, treatment. You don’t legalize anything, but instead of filling prisons with social issues, you can compel people to get treatment, for a lot less, and that extra money can be used to help current victims AND, more importantly, help prevent future victims.

    Prohibition leads to the darkness. Decimalization brings everything out into the light where it can be seen and corrected. How many victims are never heard because they are afraid their relative will go to prison? That child is being victimized by the legal system. How about the child that did come forward, only to lose a parent for 20 years? Is that really helping that child or is it focusing solely on punishment? Excising one person from the family is not the answer. Healing the whole family is the answer. Families are a functional unit which all too often becomes dysfunctional. The entire family needs to be treated, not just one person.

    The big picture is, if you want to make progress, you keep score. The score here is the rate of child abuse. Not a single agency keeps that score. I’ve looked for months and can’t find one that publishes anything about that, just arrests. If you don’t keep score, you’ll never succeed. Studies show that in fact, we are not succeeding. How moral is it to consume this many resources, make no difference, and refuse to try something that might work? That is victimizing children by refusing to do something that has shown success.

  13. There’s something I’d like to clarify about some information in LJW67’s comment. While he is correct that 95% of all sex offenses against children are perpetrated by the victims family, friends or trusted adults this leaves the impression that the other 5% are due to strangers or internet crimes against children.

    Internet crimes against children, virtually all of which are the result of various sting operations, represent just under 2% of all sex crimes against children. Every person arrested like this former prosecutor represents 49 other sex offenses with real victims that are rarely even investigated much less prosecuted. Even when they are investigated and prosecuted the result is usually a plea deal to lesser charges of child abuse that don’t require registration as a sex offender.

    There have been so many arrests and convictions of this type that the mental health professionals “treating” them have had to come up with a completely new classification for them, that of the “Situational Offender”

    When we ignore actual crimes with actual victims in favor of generating headlines and revenue then what is the point of maintaining the fiction of justice?

  14. The Portland police are womanizing with other people’s wives and are granting those women permission to poison off husbands and police are using their police powers to cover up victims 911 calls and to deny victims help at emergency hospitals!

    My Wife Was Having An Affair With A Cop That Was Impersonating Me And My Wife Poisoned Me For Trying To Warn People About It!

    I am a victim of a corrupt sting operation by local police/sheriff’s and my wife and her side of the family and her own daughters were sleeping with those officer’s!

    Under the pretense of conducting a sting operation, those officer’s and my wife and her side of the family were setting me up using a body double and photogenic photo’s and were framing me for a murder!

    I caught them in the act of using that double/officer making child porn and they murdered the child, so they were setting me up as a pedophile and for a murder using a double!

    The Portland police and Multnomah county sheriff’s have a history of womanizing with other people’s wives and granting those woman permission to poison off husbands and they have a history of using body doubles and photogenic photo’s to frame innocent people as pedophiles and they have a name for it, they call it pedofying!

Comments are closed.