After months of prowling Internet chat rooms, posing as the mother of two young daughters, Detective Michele Deery thought she had a live one: “parafling,” a married, middle-aged man who claimed he wanted to have sex with her kids.
But was he just playing a twisted game of seduction?
The only window is high on the wall, over a tall filing cabinet, and opens into a well, below ground level.
The space feels like a cave, which has always struck Deery as about right, because her job is to talk dirty online to strange men. She has athletic good looks, with tawny skin, big brown eyes, and long straight brown hair that falls over her shoulders.
Both the policewoman and her target give the author their versions of the truth, in a case that challenges the conventional wisdom about online sexual predators, and blurs the lines among crime, “intent,” and enticement.
Detective Michele Deery works in a cubicle in the basement of the Delaware County courthouse, in Media, Pennsylvania.
For this account, both Deery and J were willing to speak openly and at length; transcripts of online chats and police interrogations have also been made available.
The story reflects what they said about themselves and their actions, and presents two very different points of view.Police patrolling the precincts of sin do not often find the streets empty.How are they to tell the difference between the casual sinner and the criminal?For a variety of reasons, few of them valid, the child-molester has become the pre-eminent domestic villain of our time. In 1998, in response to growing fears of sexual predation online, Congress provided funds for the Department of Justice to create the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC ) task force, which among other things provides federal grants to local police departments for programs to find and apprehend online predators.In practice that means looking for people who potentially fit the mold—people who seem as if they might be poised to commit a crime even if they have not yet done so.Deery would begin a dialogue, dangling the illicit possibility, gauging how serious her mark was.