In a recent Virginia case involving the electronic solicitation of a minor, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his guilty conviction. According to the defendant, the trial court did not give enough weight to an expert witness’s testimony regarding the defendant’s recent diagnosis of autism. This social disorder, said the defendant, affected his capacity to understand the wrongfulness of his actions. The court ultimately disagreed with the defendant, and his conviction was affirmed.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the grandmother of an eleven-year-old girl reported to the police in 2018 that she had found sexually explicit messages on her granddaughter’s tablet. These messages were between the girl and the defendant in this case, mostly over Instagram and Google Hangouts. In the messages, the defendant had sent pictures of his genitalia, asked for pictures of the girl’s genitalia, and called the girl “babe” and “my girlfriend.”
Officers found the defendant at his place of work and arrested him for electronic solicitation of a minor. Upon his arrest, the defendant immediately admitted to his actions and indicated that he knew he should not have been speaking to the girl in an inappropriate way. The defendant stated that he knew the girl was eleven years old, and that he wished he could turn back time and do things differently so as not to engage in the sexual conversations in the first place.