Michael King of the Mondex Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison For Soliciting 3 Under-Age Girls on Facebook
FlaglerLive | August 19, 2015
Michael King, the 31-year-old Mondex man who created a bogus Facebook account and solicited three teen-age girls for sex was found guilty Wednesday on three related counts of using a computer to seduce a child and traveling to meet a minor for sex.
The verdict, first reported by the News-Journal, was immediately followed by Circuit Judge J. David Walsh sentencing King to 10 years in prison for the charge of traveling for sex, and five years’ probation for the two charges of using a computer to lure under-age girls. He had previously turned down a plea deal that would have resulted in three years of prison and 10 years of probation.
The conviction and sentence came at the end of a two-day trial over charges filed two years ago. The charges stemmed from King’s contact with one girl starting in June 2013. King first saw the girl after delivering an air conditioning unit to her house, about a quarter mile from his. The girl then started getting Facebook texts from King “over and over again,” according to court papers.
At first she refused to reply because she didn’t know him, but then replied. He sent her a picture of himself aiming a rifle at a firing range, but when he told her he was 27 (he was three years older at the time) she cut things off. He persisted, used numerous come-ons and pick-up lines, then offered her $500 “to do stuff.”
At that point the girl told her mother, who then informed the girl’s father and the police. The girl was advised to quit using her Facebook account to talk to King. She turned over the account to Flagler County Sheriff’s detectives, who posed as the girl and engaged King, who was going by the fictional handle of “Mike Jones.” In one of the later messages, he invited the girl to meet for sex. By then the girl had learned “Jones’s” true identity after showing her brother the pictures he’d sent.
The prosecution would eventually turn in 42 pages of texts between the girl—or the girl’s account—and “Jones.”
The girl’s older sister was deposed in July 2014, when she was 19, and described receiving similar messages from “Jones,” including comments as to “what he would do to me.” Those messages added up to 17 pages of exhibits for the prosecution. A third girl reported receiving two unsolicited attempts to contact her from Jones, but she replied to neither.
Brett Hartley, who defended King, had objected to the prosecution’s use of depositions of the three girls involved, rather than live testimony at trial, and raised objections to facts the prosecution was using to establish King’s intent, suggesting that accident more than intent may have been the cause of his interaction with minors. Walsh overruled both objections in a ruling a few days before the trial.
“Although no actual sexual relationship took place, the evidence is relevant to demonstrate proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident” on King’s part. “The evidence tends to refute any suggestion that [King’s] intentions were mistakenly understood by the victim or that the attempted sexual encounter was merely a mistake.”
But Facebook messages collected by the police and prosecution showed he was arranging to meet the youngest victim at a hotel for sex, warning her that the first time would hurt and assuring her that he would bring protection so she would not get pregnant. With sheriff’s detectives posing as the girl, a meet-up was arranged at Pet Smart at Town Center at midday on Sept. 27, 2013, a meeting he missed, though he made the next one three days later, when he was arrested.