George Chambers, a former Navy physicist standing trial for the second time on charges that he used the Internet to try to seduce a teen-age girl was convicted yesterday in Baltimore. A federal jury rejected his claim that he was engaged in an online sexual fantasy, says the Baltimore Sun.
Chambers, 46, in 2002 was the first defendant in Maryland’s federal courts to argue that he was only role-playing when he exchanged sexually graphic e-mails and photographs with an undercover FBI agent who assumed the online identity of a 13-year-old cheerleader.
The first trial ended in jury deadlock, a rare setback for the FBI’s $10 million Innocent Images program that tracks child predators. In the second trial, prosecutor Ari Casper told jurors that the fantasy game ended when the defendant went to a prearranged meeting with a person he believed was a minor. Chambers was arrested at a mall where he had arranged through online chats to meet the person he knew only by a screen name of “Emmygurl.” The FBI sting was not unusual, but Chambers’ decision to present the fantasy deffense was. Most such cases result in guilty pleas because investigators can produce word-for-word transcripts of online conversations that typically are so graphic that few defendants are willing to have them read to a jury.