ASHLAND “I thought she was 18” isn’t an acceptable defense against child pornography charges, according to U.S. federal prosecutors.

In a motion to limit the defense a Louisa man accused of coercing teenage girls into sending him sexually explicit images, U.S. prosecutors have argued that a mistaken age is not a defense in cases alleging enticement of a minor.  

Dale Fraley, 48, is facing four counts of enticement of a minor through a computer, five counts of receiving pornography and a sole count of possession of child pornography.

Federal prosecutors said within the statute for enticement, there is no element — meaning part of a crime — that authorities have to prove that a suspect knew the victim was under the age of 18.

With the exception of the 9th Circuit Court — the federal courts in California, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington State, Arizona and Nevada — all the federal courts in the country have barred the defense, according to prosecutors.

Consent of the minor isn’t a defense, either, federal prosecutors noted. Why? Because a minor can’t give consent, according to federal prosecutors.

Fraley’s attorney, who has already filed to get out of the case due to “an irretrievable breakdown in the lawyer/client relationship,” has essentially waved the white flag on the issue.

“It appears to counsel that the United States’ position is based upon well settled case law and as such no response is needed except as stated herein,” the attorney wrote. “The undersigned does request the court allow the defendant to raise mistake of age in context to the receipt and/or possession counts in the indictment if the defendant chooses to do so.”

The defense attorney also asked his word not be the final, just in case a new lawyer decided to pick that battle.

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henry@dailyindependent.com

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