Justin Taylor Dentz, 38, of Blaine, admitted in court that he solicited sex with someone on Backpage.com and agreed to pay $120 for time to the person who said she was 15.
She was a cop conducting an undercover prostitution sting in Maple Grove.
His 18 month prison sentence was stayed, and the judge cut him a break because the Backpage ad originally claimed the woman seeking sex was 18. That, his lawyer argued, makes the case of soliciting sex with a minor less serious because he originally thought he was going to have sex with a consenting adult.
A district court judge imposed a sentence of a gross misdemeanor instead of a felony. He gave him two years of probation, required him to perform 15 days of service or spend 60 days in the workhouse, receive a psychological evaluation and counseling, attend a sex offender program, not possess any sexually explicit material and not have any unsupervised contact with minor females except relatives.
The judge cited the lack of a criminal record, his military service, and support of family and friends in his treatment for PTSD.
Said the judge:
“[B]asically you solicited for what you thought was going to be consensual sex with an adult woman . . . and the person on the other end then interjected . . . by the way, I’m 15 . . . . That’s not the same thing for me as you actively soliciting an underage female.”
Is it less serious than if the ad had said the girl was 15? No, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled today, ruling favorably on an appeal from prosecutors.
Judge Renee Worke, writing for the three-judge panel, acknowledged that Dentz didn’t originally seek sex with a minor, “but the crime is not what he intended to do, it is what he actually did,” she wrote. “That he did not initially intend to solicit a 13-16 year old does not change the fact that he ultimately solicited a minor to engage in prostitution.”
“Dentz did not withdraw after learning that the decoy was a minor. Instead, he agreed to pay a 15-year-old child $120 for anal intercourse. There is not a substantial and compelling reason justifying a departure in this case,” she said.
Unless the case makes it to the Minnesota Supreme Court, it’ll go back to the district court judge for sentencing as a felony.
He faces up to 10 years in prison, which is twice what the sentence could have been if the undercover cop had said she was 16 instead of 15.