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The Louisiana attorney general's office has been operating similar undercover stings and teaching local officers the procedures since the Legislature made computer-aided solicitation a crime.
Now, 128 local law enforcement agencies work under the state's high-tech crime unit, "Kenner being one of the first and one of the most dedicated," said Mike Johnson, the unit's director.
"I have seen the chat logs when law enforcement has been aggressive," he said.Although Louisiana's age of consent is 17, the law lets somebody charged with computer-aided solicitation of a minor argue that the chat is consensual if the "victim" is at least 16 years old.But that right is not available if the person at the other end of the computer is an investigator.Louisiana courts shot down another challenge to the law last year, when a Denham Springs man complained that it violated his freedom of speech."The state's interest in safeguarding the physical and psychological well-being of a minor was compelling," according to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal decision, which also found that "the law was narrowly tailored to prohibit criminal conduct, rather than protected speech." Judge Jewel "Duke" Welch of Baker wrote the opinion, after hearing the case with Judges Page Mc Clendon of Mandeville and Randy Parro of Thibodaux.