Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lee: Substantial Step Toward Enticement of Minor Need not be toward Causing Conduct

In U.S. v. Lee, No. 08-17077 (April 16, 2010), the Court affirmed convictions for attempted enticement of a minor, and child pornography charges.

The Court rejected Lee’s sufficiency of the evidence challenge to his convictions. Lee argued that he could not be guilty of attempted enticement of a minor because he dealt only with an adult (an undercover agent), with regard to two fictitious minors. The Court found that, for purposes of violating the enticement statute, one can “induce” a minor by dealing with an adult who has charge of the minor, like a parent or guardian. The Court cited precedent holding that an actual minor is not needed to violate the statute: fictitious minors suffice.

The Court rejected the argument that Lee had not taken a “substantial step” toward committing the offense. The Court pointed out that a substantial step toward “causing assent” to sex with a minor suffices; the substantial step need not be “toward causing actual sexual conduct.” The Court found sufficient evidence that Lee had taken a substantial step toward causing assent, including his promise not to harm the minor girls during intercourse.

[Martin, J., dissenting, argued that the substantial step evidence was insufficient, pointing out that during the telephone calls “the plans were never more than general talk about what could happen in the future,” and the defendant did not take any step beyond the boundaries of his property.]