~Jacksonville man arrested for luring child to his home for sex…

~Jacksonville man arrested for luring child to his home for sex~

TALLAHASSEE, FL – LAWFUEL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today commended the efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for rescuing a 15-year-old girl before she met a Jacksonville man who sexually solicited her over the internet. Authorities with the Attorney General’s Child Predator CyberCrime Unit arrested Daniel Lenz on Friday after discovering that he had attempted to lure the young girl from New Hampshire to his Jacksonville home.

“This case serves as an important reminder that criminals are increasingly using the internet to prey upon our children. Online activities that may seem harmless are now being used to lure young victims,” said Attorney General McCollum. “Fortunately, this child was returned home safely, thanks to the commitment of cooperating law enforcement agencies.”

Lenz, 26, met the girl through a computer game and after soliciting her for sex over the internet, convinced her to leave New Hampshire and travel to meet him in Florida. The girl was intercepted in South Carolina and returned to her home in New Hampshire, through the coordinated efforts of the Attorney General’s Office, the FBI Cybercrime Task-Force in Jacksonville and New Hampshire, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, the New Hampshire Police Department, the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office of South Carolina, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Authorities with the CyberCrime Unit arrested Lenz for soliciting the teenage girl with the intent to engage in sexual conduct with her and for assisting her to run away from home. A search warrant executed at Lenz’s house led to the seizure of several computers, which will undergo forensic analysis for evidence of the crime. Lenz is currently being held without bond at the Duval County Pre-Trial Detention Facility. He is charged with one count of computer solicitation and could face up to five years in prison if convicted. The CyberCrime Unit acted as a member of the FBI CyberTask Force in Jacksonville.

In the wake of the arrest, Attorney General McCollum reiterated the importance of stronger laws prohibiting the sexual solicitation of children over the internet and the need for statewide cybercrime units.

Lenz used “grooming” techniques to gain the child’s trust and lure the victim to his home. Grooming is a behavior where the internet predator attempts to demonstrate that he is closer in age to the child in order for the child to feel more comfortable with the online communication. By creating a false sense of trust conveyed by a “common age,” the person breaks down the child’s suspicions and defenses. McCollum noted that this particular case is the type targeted by a new bill before the Florida Legislature, enhancing penalties for activities like those carried out by Lenz.

The bill, which was unanimously approved by all referenced Senate and House committees prior to the opening day of the 2007 Legislative Session and has received strong support from both Senate President Ken Pruitt and Speaker of the House Marco Rubio, also strengthens penalties for the possession or distribution of child pornography. Additionally, the bill creates a new, separate penalty against sexual predators who communicate with a child online and then travel to meet that child, or coordinate travel for the child, for the specific purpose of sexually abusing him or her. The maximum prison terms will increase three-fold from five years in prison to 15 years under the new law.

The Attorney General’s Child Predator CyberCrime Unit in Jacksonville investigates and prosecutes computer-facilitated crimes against children.
The Unit’s investigators and prosecutors are specially trained in current technologies, tactics and the law and share their expertise through educational programs and community awareness efforts. In less than two years, officers within the Unit have facilitated more than 35 arrests of people who were creating, possessing or distributing child pornography, or who sexually solicited children online and traveled to meet them to engage in sexual acts with them. A budget request by the Attorney General will increase staff members in the cybercrime program from six to 56 to establish additional units statewide.

More information on Attorney General McCollum’s cybercrime initiative is available online at:
http://myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/Main/DF75DF6F54BDA68E8525727B00645478.

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