• Chat room leads to pregnancy and 32-year prison term

    Date: 08.26.11 | by Judge Tom.

    When Betty was 13-years-old, she began using chat rooms on the Internet. She changed her online name to “Emily” and claimed to be 18-years-old. She met Frank Gamez in one of the chat rooms. He said he was 21.

    After exchanging pictures, Gamez told her she didn’t look 18. Betty responded by saying she was really 16. She told him she was living with her aunt and uncle in New Mexico but didn’t like it there because they were too strict. She agreed to meet Gamez who promised to return her to her mother’s home in Texas in a few months.

    Once they met and Betty left with Gamez, they agreed to become boyfriend and girlfriend. Gamez introduced her to drinking games and after three months of traveling around, Betty became pregnant. Their relationship deteriorated and Gamez threatened to hurt her and the baby if she “ever ratted him out.”

    A tip to the police led to the arrest of Gamez in Arizona. A lady saw a picture of the missing teen in a Wal-Mart and reported it. Gamez was found hiding in a closet in his apartment. He was charged with sexual conduct with a minor under age 15, unlawful imprisonment and other charges related to his capture and arrest. Betty was taken into custody and placed with Child Protective Services.

    Inmate Gamez

    At trial, Gamez attempted to assert the defense that he thought Betty was 16 or older. However, under the applicable laws, there was no requirement that the state had to prove that a perpetrator engaged in a sexual act knew that the person was under 18. Ignorance of a sexual partner’s age is not a defense. Based on the fact that Gamez was actually 37-years-old and Betty was 13, Gamez was convicted of all major counts. He was sentenced to 32 years in prison. He appealed the conviction and sentence and lost in a decision issued by the Arizona Court of Appeals in July, 2011.*

    Although the Internet and social networking sites are useful and a part of most of our lives, caution is advised when communicating with strangers. Never add personal information about yourself for the world to see. Use the privacy options available on the network you’re on and let your parents or other trusted adult know if you receive messages from someone you don’t know. Don’t agree to meet an online “friend” alone, at night or without telling an adult first.

    Here is a similar case about a Facebook encounter turned deadly.

    *State v. Gamez, 2011 WestLaw 2623570 (Arizona 2011).

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    4 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Divorce Lawyers Tulsa
      Fri, 26 Aug 2011 at 08:15

      This is where I strongly disagree with the statutory rape laws – Betty lied to him and yet she gets off scott free while he is sentence to 32 years in prison…is that justice???
      Yes, she lied, but she was only 13 and he was 37 (he also lied). This type of age difference and the fact that she was only 13, which many consider to be still a child is exactly why statutory rape laws were created. It’s the relationships between an 18 year old and a 15 year old that are more questionable when it comes to statutory rape.

    • Askthejudge.info
      Sat, 27 Aug 2011 at 12:41

      New blog post: Chat room leads to pregnancy and 32-year prison term http://t.co/gLzrLiC

    • Oklahoma City Divorce Attorneys
      Wed, 31 Aug 2011 at 09:55

      37 years old and he tried to hook up with someone who he thought was 18???…even if she were really 18 it would still be wrong

    • Tulsa House Cleaners
      Fri, 23 Sep 2011 at 06:53

      Frank deserves to be locked away for a very long time.

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