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Judge’s Ruling Could Lead to Dismissal of Cases from Local Child Predator Group – GantNews.com | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

CLEARFIELD – A ruling by a Clearfield County judge has set a precedent, which could lead to cases filed with information supplied by a local child predator group, being dismissed.

Since last fall, the 814 Pred Hunters group has been “catching” prospective child predators by posting false online teen profiles of decoys.

At least 16 cases have been filed in Clearfield County in response to information the group provided to local law enforcement.

One of these cases, Gene William Robbins, 43, of Woodland, who was facing a felony criminal use of communication device charge was scheduled to go to trial on Tuesday.

The trial was cancelled and the charge dismissed, according to District Attorney Ryan Sayers, because of a ruling made on Friday in another one of the predator cases.

President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman issued an opinion and order, stating in the case against Mathew Uncles of Clearfield that “the Unlawful Contact with Minors statute explicitly outlines who can be a victim and who can pose as a would-be victim.

“Specifically, a victim includes actual minors or a law enforcement officer operating within the scope of his/her official duties posing as a minor, for the purpose of committing any of the sex-related offenses.”

“The General Assembly specifically chose the language of the Unlawful Contact with Minors statute; if the General Assembly intended to criminalize communicating with vigilantes (i.e. non-law enforcement individuals) posing as minors, then the statute would, in its plain language, express that intent.”

Uncles was charged by Lawrence Township police with criminal attempt/corruption of minors, criminal attempt/unlawful contact with minor and criminal use of communication facility in relation to his actions prior to a meeting on Nov. 3 with the predator group.

Uncles fled the scene of the set up, but members of the group followed him to his residence and called police. Uncles was arrested.

Because of the ruling, the case against Uncles was dismissed Friday.

Four other cases have already made their way through the system with the defendants getting time served sentences on one count of criminal attempt-corruption of minors.

Ten cases remain active at this point, but it should only be a matter of time until they are also dismissed.

Ammerman’s ruling will no doubt be used in other counties where the group has been “catching” potential predators. They have also traveled to neighboring states to confront people who have communicated with their decoys.

More information and details from defense attorneys who have criticized 814’s methods will be featured in later article.

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