“[F]ormer MTV star” Connor Smith, NBC Chicago reports, “is wanted in the Chicago area after he was accused [of] trying to meet a child for a sexual encounter.” Smith is accused of “traveling to meet a minor, grooming a minor and disseminating harmful material.”
While I’ve never heard of this “star,” he sounds like a bad dude who’s up to some very bad things. But perhaps not quite as bad as one might think from the story’s lead paragraphs. As it turns out, Smith was “communicating with an undercover detective … posing as a girl under the age of 15.”
I see quite a few stories like this one, and each of them makes me wonder: What’s being done for the actual children who are actual victims of actual grooming and actual sexual abuse?
According to statistics from the National Center for Victims of Crime, one in five girls and one in 20 boys are victims of child sexual abuse nationwide.
Any way you slice the demographics, that’s millions of real victims.
And the vast majority of those victims are molested by people they know well (especially family members), not by randos who chat them up via phone or web apps.
How many of those real crimes go unsolved — in fact, are never even noticed — because law enforcement agencies spend their employees’ time and your money manufacturing sick fantasies and arresting those who fall for stings based on said fantasies, instead of doing their supposed jobs?
If Smith did what the cops say he did, chances are pretty good that he’s done it before, for real, to an actual victim or victims.
But in THIS case, all he’s actually accused of is talking dirty with, exchanging dirty pictures with, and attempting to meet with, an adult entertainer who pays union dues to the Fraternal Order of Police instead of to Actors’ Equity.
How much of that actor’s — and other cops’ — time was spent purveying free porn and setting up an ambush with an eye toward making a splash in the news, rather than on following up on actual tips, interviewing actual victims, and tracking down actual criminals who committed actual crimes?
Someone should ask that question next time the Lake County Sheriff’s Office comes to taxpayers demanding budget and manpower increases. Perhaps a local community theater troupe can fill in and free up the county’s law enforcement budget for a focus on “serving and protecting.”
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.