~ Attorney corresponded with an undercover detective, believing he was
enticing a 14-year old girl ~
TALLAHASSEE, FL – LAWFUEL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that a Naples attorney has been convicted for sexually soliciting someone he thought was a 14-year old girl over the internet. A Palm Beach County jury returned a guilty verdict against Steven Mark Siegel who corresponded with an undercover detective online, believing he was talking to a young girl.
Evidence revealed he engaged in graphic sexual conversations and planned for the “child” to visit him at a local hotel for a sexual encounter. The case was prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.
“This particular individual not only engaged in this criminal and destructive behavior time and time again, he did it while serving as a trusted member of the legal community,” said Attorney General McCollum.
“This case illustrates how cybercrime can be perpetuated by anyone and we will continue exerting all available resources to protect our children.”
The investigation began in 2003 when a detective with the Boynton Beach Police Department met Siegel in an internet chatroom. He began soliciting the “child” almost immediately and continued the graphic conversations for at least 10 months. Evidence provided by other law enforcement agencies revealed Siegel solicited another undercover officer posing as a Pennsylvania mother of a 12-year old daughter, asking the mother to arrange a sexual encounter with her daughter. Siegel also solicited an undercover detective posing as a mother with a 14-year old daughter in 2004 and actually travelled to St. Lucie County to meet the mother and child for the purposes of having sex with the child. He was arrested in March 2006 by the Boynton Beach Police Department
Siegel is set for sentencing on in March and could face up to five years in prison. He must also register with the state as a sex offender.
The jury returned the verdict to Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Lucy Chernow Brown after deliberating for just over an hour.
Cases similar to Siegel’s involving the internet solicitation of a child, or the parent of a child, for sex with that child may now be prosecuted under the CyberCrimes Against Children Act of 2007. The law, which went into effect on October 1, 2007, makes it a new crime to solicit a parent for sex with a child and was Attorney General McCollum’s top legislative priority in 2007.