Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Judge sentences offender to decade

thomas_c._craigA Doyline man who was charged in October with Internet crimes against children, received 10 years hard labor from district court Judge Jeff Cox on Friday.

Thomas C. (Cody) Craig, 25, of the 700 block of Fuller Street in Doyline was charged with computer-aided solicitation of a minor, indecent behavior with a juvenile and obscenity.

He had pled guilty to a forcible rape charge in 2010 and was on probation from a 10-year-sentence.

"The court had suspended all but two years on it," said Webster Parish assistant District Attorney Sherb Sentell. "He had served that and was out and still on probation."

Now, according to Sentell, Craig's sentence will be even longer.

"He revoked on the first sentence, so he will do eight years on the first charge and 10 years on this one to be served consecutively.

In October, 2011, Bryan Montgomery, a Springhill police officer working with Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force was working an online undercover operation, posing as a 14-year-old female when Craig came online and began chatting with "her."

"Craig told (Montgomery) he wanted to meet 'her' and have sexual intercourse," said Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd. "He was making very explicit sexual comments."

Arrangements were made to meet at a Springhilll apartment complex, but when Craig arrived, he was met by Montgomery and Lynd.

"If this had been a real 14-year-old there's no doubt he would've met her and it could've been bad," Sentell said.

Under the recent state law, thrown out by federal Judge Brian Jackson, Craig's sentence could have been harsher.

"There is no doubt that true sex offenders use the Internet," Sentell said. "It facilitates their ability to contact potential victims, and they do so anonymously."

Sentell said it seems to give the offender courage.

"It's sad that the statute has been held unconstitutional," he said. "Hopefully, it will be redrafted and crafted."

Part of the problem, Sentell said, is that the law is behind technology.

"The law doesn't know how to deal with advances in medicine – and likewise technology," he said. "No matter how you write a statute today, there can be a new app (application) on your cell phone tomorrow. Does the law include it?

"It's difficult to write a law that prohibits what we're trying to prohibit and isn't overly broad," he continued. "You don't want to prohibit people from being able to contact others for legitimate reasons, but at the same time, you don't want them to have open access to all the potential victims out there."

In Sentell's opinion, probation is a gift.

"If you are allowed probation, then by definition, you've been given a gift from the judicial system and the court," he said. "Therefore, you already have restricted rights. I don't see any problem with restricting their access to social media."






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