With a few minor shifts of the narrative, he might have been the hero of a sad story at the top of a deep dive into what it’s like to be fat, gay and alone in a place not known for its tolerance of these attributes. You would have cried, gushed, emoted for his welfare.
Instead, he’s a filthy pedophile who should be pilloried before prison, followed by a life of ostracism and disgust. Woke is such an ephemeral thing.
A 22-year-old college student at Ohio’s Youngstown State University was arrested after falling for a fictional 15-year-old boy created by local cops.
Austintown police officers used a phony dating-app profile for someone purporting to be an adult to lure in the student earlier this month. After chatting, the catfish “revealed” he was 15 years old. The college student, A.G. (not his full name), indicated he didn’t have a problem with his age. The conversation eventually turned sexual and A.G. sent the faux boy some nude photos of himself.
All the makings of the villain du jour, from “seducing” a teen to sending nude pics. Of course it’s a crime for a 22-year-old to “lure” a 15-year-old into sex, even when the teen doesn’t exist, except in the fertile imagination of some cops.
It was clear from the exchanges, police said, that A.G. was developing feelings for the imaginary teen. A.G. described him as “my one and only” and talked about being his husband someday. On December 12, they agreed to meet in person. A.G. showed up at what he thought was the boy’s home with homemade chicken alfredo, soda, and lubricant.
Austintown police greeted A.G. instead.
Was A.G. some sick twisted pedo? Or was he a sad, lonely person whose feelings were played by cops saying the things designed to lure him into believing that he had found a person to love? Does it matter?
This a young man who is about 5’7″ and weighs 450 pounds, according to the police report. He is gay in a part of Ohio where that’s still really difficult sometimes. I can’t imagine finding romantic partners has been easy in this man’s life. And then he finds what he thinks is someone reciprocating his flirtations and encouraging his advances and inviting him over to spend time together.
Having a hard time in romance doesn’t justify sleeping with teenagers, but in this case, there was no actual teenager and no actual sex; and there’s no evidence that he would have looked for an underage sexual or romantic partner on his own.
The point isn’t to excuse, or rationalize, why an adult should be allowed to have sex with a teen. Some would make that argument. I will not. This is a case where hysteria over pedophilia, particularly of the sort involving strangers on the internet finding, grooming, manipulating, then ruining a teen evokes the worst fears of parents.
It’s also a case to remind them that not every person on the internet is some sick twisted perv bent on destroying their child. Sometimes, it’s just a short, fat gay guy, barely out of his teens himself, who lives a very lonely life and wants to find love, human companionship, and, yes, sex.
It’s not that what A.G. did was good, but it’s that it wasn’t as horrible as your worst fears would suggest. Proportionality is what distinguishes the evil from the merely wrongful.
A.G. was preyed on by police who pretended to be interested and said exactly what he wanted to hear, even after realizing the emotional attachment he was developing and the potential psychological effect this was having on him. And now he will likely be branded a sex offender and a pedophile for life.
Seeking out, and creating, the monster you seek to capture is an amazingly effective mechanism for police to give the appearance of effectiveness. It avoids the crime actually being committed, which means no one is harmed, and removes the hard work of actually investigating and finding the perpetrator of a crime. Closing cases is hard work. Creating them is far easier.
This may be entrapment. It may not. Whether A.G. had a predisposition to commit the offense is unclear. The cops merely provided the opportunity, although their methods involved, as they invariably do, manipulation of the perp to create that perfect opportunity, the one that lures him in, that plays his feelings to do the worst. Did they “abuse” his mental state or grease the skids as he slid into an attachment with the non-existent 15-year-old? That’s a question for his defense.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown asks the question:
Most of you will be able to easily answer that question. You know what “justice” is, right? It’s your subjective feeling, your accumulated experience and bias, your assumptions and fears. I, unfortunately, find the question too hard to answer. From the perspective of the mother who lies in bed awake at night praying that her beloved child isn’t lured into a sex nightmare, justice is that this pedophile will never be able to destroy her child’s life. From another perspective, A.G. is a sad, lonely young man, turned into a criminal, an outcast for life, based on a sham.
Chances are that A.G. would not have enjoyed a life of popularity and pleasure. He is far more likely to suffer a future of sadness and loneliness. Now, he’s guaranteed only misery if he becomes a convicted criminal and a registered sex offender. But this is the law.