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Editorial: From chief to prisoner

The sentence handed down Tuesday to Landis’ former chief of police proves just how seriously the courts take predators who cruise the Internet looking for action with kids. For chatting in sexually explicit terms and sharing porn with what he thought was an underage girl, Charles Childers will make his home in a federal prison for the next 12 years.
And when federal judges say 12 years, they mean 12 years.
The person Childers chatted with in the exchanges that sealed his fate was a federal agent, not a child. Childers shared dirty chat and smut online, and prosecutors said he had real underage victims. But court testimony did not reveal that he ever arranged a rendezvous like the men on the Dateline TV news series, “To Catch a Predator.” NBC will run out of air time before it runs out of guys who will risk all for an afternoon alone with a teenager.
Let Childers’ case be a warning to anyone who thinks this is a victimless crime with no consequences. Exposing young people to inappropriate discussions and shocking images is indeed harmful to them and their understanding of human sexuality. Thanks to online sting operations, it also exposes the perpetrator to the chance of being arrested, publicly humiliated and put behind bars. That should be a strong deterrent.
Childers, who once proudly wore the badge of law enforcement, has now ruined his career and embarrassed his family. The state attorney general and a federal prosecutor held a press conference to announce his arrest. Childers’ lawyer tried to hang the blame on a miserable childhood and alcoholism, but the court was not moved. A tragic addiction may be at work here ó sexual or alcoholic ó but that hardly lessens the impact on victims, his family members or the town that trusted him. The best will forgive him, but no one will be able to forget.

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