A New Jersey appellate court has ruled that a man who called a 10-year-old girl and persuaded her to touch herself sexually can be charged with sexual assault, even though he never met the girl, the Associated Press reports.
The ruling issued Tuesday in Trenton rejected an appeal by James Maxwell, 52, of North Haledon, who received a 12-year state prison term after he pleaded guilty in April 2001 to aggravated sexual assault and multiple counts of child endangerment. He admitted making obscene phone calls to several young girls between the fall of 1998 and June 1999.
Maxwell never met any of the children, who ranged in age from 8 to 14 and also lived in North Haledon. He found them after reading stories about them in weekly newspapers and was charged under a law that includes a sex act that takes place “upon the actor’s instruction.”
Maxwell’s lawyer, Edward Jerejian, said the law was invalid because his client and the victim were never in the same place. He plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court.