COLUMBIA — The South Carolina Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a father of two whose Yahoo! chat room activities led to a sex solicitation sting on Old Magnolia Lane in Beech Island in 2006.
In 2009, Benjamin Green was sentenced to 12 years in prison after he was convicted of criminal solicitation of a minor and attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. Circuit Court Judge Doyet Early had shortened his sentence to seven years after hearing from him again and receiving statements of community and family support for him.
In his appeal, Green’s attorney argued that photographs of the man’s penis, which he submitted to an Aiken County law enforcement officer posing as a 14-year-old girl named Mandy, should not have been provided to the jury.
The penis photos were “inflammatory to both male and female jurors” and unnecessary, because the jury was already given a transcript of Green and “Mandy’s” Web chat, Green’s appeal stated. But in its decision Wednesday, the Supreme Court said the photos were OK to use against Green because they illustrated his sexual intent.
Green, now 33, had also claimed his chat room speech was protected, and that the law was applied too broadly. But the high court said the First Amendment does not protect speech aimed at the sexual exploitation of children.
Court records show that on October 13, 2006, an undercover officer with the South Carolina Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office had posed as 14-year-old “Mandy.” Green contacted “Mandy” and sent pictures of his penis before arranging a meeting on a Beech Island road. When he arrived, the man was met instead by several officers.