COLUMBIA — The South Carolina Supreme Court is scheduled to hear an appeal this month from a father of two whose 2006 sexual conversation in a Yahoo chat room led to a sting on Old Magnolia Lane in Beech Island.
At the heart of the appeal is the argument that photographs of Benjamin Green’s penis, which he submitted to an Aiken County law enforcement officer who was posing as a 14-year-old girl, should not have been provided to the jury.
Green, now 33, was convicted in Aiken County in 2009 of criminal solicitation of a minor and attempt to commit second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. Judge Doyet Early sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
In September 2009, however, Early shortened the sentence to seven years after receiving statements of community support. Green’s Supreme Court appeal is scheduled for Feb. 23.
In a final brief filed last year, Green’s attorney argued several points, among them that the photos were “inflammatory to both male and female jurors” and unnecessary, because the jury was already given a transcript of Green’s Web chat.
“Clearly, this was overkill,” said the brief from Green’s attorney. “The prejudicial impact of looking at (Green’s) penis far outweighed any probative value.”
The transcript of the 2009 hearing includes family testimony, with members asking the judge to let Green return to support his family. The hearing also revealed he had no other criminal record, except for shoplifting during his senior year of high school in 1997. In his court appearance, Green stressed his duties to his family.
“Other than the incident of October of 2006, I don’t think there is anything showing that I’m the type of person that they’re trying to say I am,” he said. “I can assure you in all honesty, God as my witness, that I am not that type of person, and I’m just concerned with getting home ... ”
The judge interrupted him to ask if he was in any other trouble. Green said no.
“At the time of the arrest I faced a lot of embarrassment and shame, of course,” said Green. “I lost my job, and it took awhile for me to get a job and get my family back financially stable ... ”
Court records show that on Oct. 13, 2006, investigator Tommy Platt posed as 14-year-old “Mandy.” Platt was an undercover officer with the state Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.
Mandy was approached by Green, who sent pictures of his penis, and later arranged a meeting on a secluded road in Beech Island. When he did, he was met by police.