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Attorneys to argue online solicitation case initiated by ‘predator catcher’ | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

WILKES-BARRE — As one Luzerne County judge already decided on several cases involving online child solicitation initiated by self-proclaimed Luzerne County Predator Catcher Musa Harris, another judge is allowing attorneys to file legal briefs to support their positions.

Michael Klutchko, 32, of Bear Creek Township, was charged by Jenkins Township police in April 2023, based on information supplied by Harris of alleged online chats of meeting a teenage girl for sex. Harris acted as the teenage girl during online chat sessions allegedly with Klutchko. who faces charges of criminal attempt to commit unlawful contact with a minor, criminal attempt to commit corruption of minors, criminal attempt to commit statutory sexual assault and criminal solicitation to commit statutory sexual assault.

Klutchko’s attorney, James R. Elliott, from the county Public Defender’s Office, filed a motion to suppress the criminal case citing what other defense attorneys have done for similar clients.

Elliot in his motion argued the Unlawful Contact with Minor statute specifically says the minor must actually be a minor or a sworn law enforcement officer acting as a minor.

Elliot argued in his motion Harris is not a minor and is not a registered or certified law enforcement officer in his attempt to have the criminal case against Klutchko dismissed.

During a brief suppression hearing Tuesday, Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. allowed Elliott and Assistant District Attorney Carly Levandoski to file legal briefs to support their arguments. Attorney Benjamin Stanton from the Public Defender’s Office stood in for Elliot during Tuesday’s hearing.

President Judge Michael T. Vough has denied similar requests for other defendants charged by police prompted by information supplied by Harris.

Attorneys representing four men charged with information supplied by Harris have filed rare King’s Bench petitions asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to intervene as there is a difference of legal opinions across the Commonwealth involving “vigilante” child sex stings.

While several district attorneys in other counties have opted not to prosecute vigilante cases, Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce had proceeded to prosecute some but not all of Harris’ cases he brings forth. Sanguedolce previously explained adding another criminal offense – criminal attempt to the unlawful contact with a minor offense, supports prosecutorial efforts.

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