Sex Offenses

The Federal Docket

United States v. Jose Cordero (11th Cir. August 2021)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a district court’s order requiring a sex offender on supervised release to notify prospective clients of his sex offender status. The Court held this was not an impermissible modification of his supervised release conditions since his initial conditions allowed probation to require the defendant to notify certain third parties of his status.

United States v. Alston Williams (11th Cir. July 2021)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the conviction, sentence, and restitution order of a defendant convicted of sex trafficking minors and adults. Among the defendant’s challenges, the Court held that admitting graphic videos of a victim does not violate Rule 403 if the videos are relevant and jurors are prescreened appropriately, evidence of a defendant’s use of violence against victims establishes their knowledge that the victims were not consenting to the sexual activities, and a victim’s disclaimer of a restitution award does not negate a district court’s obligation to order restitution.

United States v. Brandon Royce Phillips (11th Cir. July 2021)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction for enticing a minor to produce pornography, holding that the district court did not constructively amend the indictment when it instructed the jury that the government did not have to prove the defendant had knowledge of the victim’s age, as the language in the indictment alleging that the defendant acted “knowingly and intentionally” only applied to the “acts barred in the statute.” Moreover, the Court emphasized that a district court is free to ignore language in the indictment that alleges a “higher mens rea” than the statute requires as “mere surplusage. The Court vacated the defendant’s conviction for possessing child pornography, however, since he had also been convicted of receiving child pornography based on the same conduct, thus violating the Double Jeopardy Clause.

United States v. Joshua Rogers (11th Cir. March 2021)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s 360-month sentence for producing child pornography after the defendant pleaded to engaging in a sexual relationship with a 16-year old girl and posting pictures of them having intercourse together. The Court held that 1) the enhancement for material depicting masochistic, sadistic, or violent conduct applied based on an image of the defendant choking the victim during sex, and 2) the 5-point enhancement for a “pattern of activity” involving prohibited sexual conduct is not double counting because the Sentencing Commission intended for it to be cumulative to all other enhancements.

United States v. Keneon Fitzroy Isaac (11th Cir. February 2021)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction and sentence, holding that the district court did not clearly err in finding that alternatives to impounding the defendant’s car were impractical based on the officer’s need to interview the arrestee and the time he would have to wait for someone else to get the vehicle. The sentencing court properly applied the enhancement for defendants who have custody, supervisory control, or who care for the minor victims where the defendant acted like a temporary guardian for the victim when the mother was at the work, and the defendant helped the family financially.

United States v. Jason Kaushmaul (11th Cir. January 2021)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction for distributing child pornography, holding the sentencing court did not plainly err in sentencing the defendant to the 15-year mandatory minimum based on finding that his prior Florida conviction for promoting the sexual performance of a child was a predicate prior offense.

United States v. Peter Bobal (11th Cir. November 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction and sentence. The Court held that the prosecutor did not commit plain error during closing arguments when they incorrectly stated that the defendant had stipulated his guilt as to one of the counts in the indictment, as opposed to just one element of that count, reasoning that the full context allowed the jury to infer the stipulation only applied to an element of the count. The Court also held that, notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s decision in Packingham v. North Carolina, a defendant’s condition of supervised release prohibiting internet access except for work and pre-approved purposes is not unconstitutional even if the defendant’s term of supervised release is for life.

United States v. Fernando Clarke (2d Cir. October 2020)

The Second Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction for “transporting” child pornography after government agents downloaded illegal images from the defendant’s computer through a peer-to-peer filesharing program. The Court held there was sufficient evidence that the defendant knew he was making his images available for others to download based on his knowledge of how peer-to-peer programs work and that he had “transported” the images “by wittingly participating in a file-sharing network and downloading files from the computers of others” which “implicitly invited other participants in the file-sharing network to share his files, and enabled them to do so.”

United States v. Christopher J. Abbate (5th Cir. August 2020)

The Fifth Circuit affirmed several conditions of the defendant’s lifetime term of supervised release as a sex offender, including conditions prohibiting him from possessing any pornographic materials, but held that a condition prohibiting use or possession of video games and gaming consoles was overbroad unless limited to consoles that allow internet communication.

United States v. Herman Sanders (5th Cir. July 2020)

The Fifth Circuit reversed a defendant’s conviction for enticing or transporting a minor for purposes of producing child pornography under 18 U.S.C. § 2251 because there was insufficient evidence that the defendant had knowledge that his victims were minors.

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