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State v. Lewis

Court of Appeals of Oregon

May 23, 2018

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
CAMERON J. LEWIS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Submitted March 29, 2017

          Lane County Circuit Court 201415557; A159667 R. Curtis Conover, Judge.

          Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, and Meredith Allen, Deputy Public Defender, Offce of Public Defense Services, fled the brief for appellant.

          Cameron J. Lewis fled the supplemental brief pro se.

          Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, and Shannon T. Reel, Assistant Attorney General, fled the brief for respondent.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Lagesen, Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for one count of first-degree online sexual corruption of a child, ORS 163.433, contending that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal. Defendant argues that, as the term is defined in ORS 163.431(5), he did not “solicit” a child because after he knew of the child's age, he merely passively acquiesced to engage in sexual contact with her rather than actively reaching out to engage in sexual contact. Held: The trial court did not err in denying defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal. Because defendant used text messages to request a child to engage in sexual contact after he knew her age, a reasonable factfinder could find that defendant knowingly used an online communication to solicit a child to engage in sexual contact.

          [292 Or. 2] EGAN, C. J.

         Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for one count of first-degree online sexual corruption of a child, ORS 163.433, contending that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal. Defendant argues that, as the term is defined in ORS 163.431(5), he did not "solicit" a child "because the subject matter of minority age did not arise until after the negotiations for sexual contact were complete." Ultimately, defendant contends that, after he learned that the person he had arranged to meet for sex was a child, he merely passively acquiesced to engage in sexual contact with her. We disagree. Because defendant used text messages to request a child to engage in sexual contact after he knew her age, a reasonable factfinder could find that defendant knowingly used an online communication to solicit a child to engage in sexual contact. We therefore affirm.[1]

         Because it is helpful to better understand the parties' dispute, we pause here to set out the statutes at issue. ORS 163.433 provides that a person commits first-degree online sexual corruption of a child when that person commits second-degree online sexual corruption of a child and "intentionally takes a substantial step toward physically meeting with or encountering the child." A person commits second-degree online sexual corruption of a child if (1) a person who is 18 years of age or older (2) for the purposes of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the person or another person (3) knowingly uses an online communication[2] to solicit a child to engage in sexual contact or sexually explicit conduct and (4) offers or agrees to physically meet with the child. ORS 163.432(1). "Solicit" is statutorily defined as "to invite, request, seduce, lure, entice, persuade, prevail upon, coax, coerce or attempt to do so." ORS 163.431(5). Only the third [292 Or. 3] element of the crime-specifically, solicitation of a child to engage in sexual contact-is at issue here.

         We turn to the facts. While working as an undercover officer for the Eugene Police Department and as part of a sting operation focused on targeting individuals who would purchase sex with a minor, Detective Burroughs posted an advertisement on Backpage.com. Burroughs described Backpage.com as "a classified advertising website" that has "a multitude of different services, " including advertisements for prostitution. The advertisement was located under the website's "adult section" and "escorts" subsection. The advertisement was titled, "Pure platonic fun - 18" and stated:

"Hi Guys, my name is Sam, I'm seventeen years old, attractive and looking for a thoughtful, kind, mature man to share companionship, conversation, advice and kindness. I'm young in age, but older at heart. If you're interested in platonic fun, text me at [phone number]. Serious inquiries only please."

         The advertisement included photos of "what appeared to be a teenage girl" and, below the posting, provided, "Poster's age: 18."

         Burroughs explained that, in order to post an advertisement on Backpage.com, posters must affirm that they are at least 18 years of age. Otherwise, the poster is reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and their Internet Protocol address is blocked.

         Approximately one hour after Burroughs posted the advertisement, defendant text-messaged a reply to the number provided, stating, "Hey Sam. Saw your ad I'd be down for hanging out what do you got in mind. When are you available?" Burroughs-texting as "Sam"-and defendant exchanged messages regarding their availability over the next couple of days. When Burroughs asked defendant "what do u like, " defendant responded, "I'm pretty open. What's available?" Burroughs explained that meeting the next day would be best, stating "I'll b home alone, mom in jail right now. Gotta make rent." Subsequently, defendant and Burroughs exchanged the following text-messages:

[292 Or. 4] Defendant: "Sounds like a plan" ...

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