Sex Predator Sting Operations Result in Heavy Sentences
A 56-year-old Philadelphia man was recently sentenced to 50 to 100 years in prison for crimes related to his attempted sexual encounter with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl. Marvin Jennings was arrested in 2019 along with 10 other men as part of a major sting operation conducted by local, state and federal authorities. The case shows the methods used by law enforcement operations to spot internet luring and other online offenses against minors, as well as the extreme punishment that can result from a conviction.
The sting operation involved the Delaware County District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID), the Internet Crime Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, the Pennsylvania State Police, the FBI, and police departments in several boroughs and townships.
In Jennings’ case, a Ridley Township officer — using the social media app “Scout” — posed as a 14-year-old female and had online conversations with the man later determined to be Jennings. In one chat, Jennings asked whether the girl was willing to have sex with him and arranged for a meeting the next day. When Jennings arrived at the location, he was arrested.
In Pennsylvania, law enforcement officers are allowed to go online posing as children in chat rooms. They can even pretend to sell or distribute child pornography in order to entice suspects. This may sound like entrapment, but Pennsylvania’s Wiretap Act allows it. Laws like this one have enabled TV shows like “To Catch a Predator” to be produced.
At his trial in Delaware County court, the jury took less than an hour to find Jennings guilty of:
- Attempted statutory sexual assault of a minor at least 11 years younger than himself
- Unlawful contact with a minor (sometimes called internet luring)
- Corruption of a minor
- Criminal use of a communication facility
The prosecution sought mandatory minimum sentences of 25 years each on the attempted statutory assault and unlawful contact convictions. The judge agreed and handed down a sentence of at least 50 years, noting that Jennings had a prior record. He had pleaded guilty to a series of rapes in hospital bathrooms in 1989, for which he served 21 years in prison before being released in 2010.
As the Jennings case illustrates, online interactions with minors can lead to very serious criminal charges and heavy sentences. Law enforcement agencies continue to cooperate with each other to catch people using social media, websites other online communication to victimize children. If you are prosecuted, you could face decades in prison, a lifetime of sex offender registration under Megan’s Law and tens of thousands of dollars in in monetary fines.
The Law Offices of David Jay Glassman defends clients accused of internet sex crimes in Pennsylvania. We’ll do everything we can to build a defense that protects your freedom and reputation. Call our Philadelphia office at 215-563-7100 anytime, 24/7,or contact us online and we’ll get in touch with you as quickly as possible.