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U.S. v Chambers

Case No. 09-3654 (C.A. 7, June 16, 2011)

A jury convicted defendant-appellant Jeffrey Dean Chambers of attempting to entice a minor under the age of eighteen to engage in sexual activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b) and of knowingly transporting child pornography in interstate commerce in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(1). The district court sentenced Chambers to 240 months’ imprisonment. Chambers challenges the sufficiency of the evidence used to prove the attempted enticement charge and the admission of certain evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b). For the following reasons, we affirm Chambers’ convictions.
I. BACKGROUND
In March 2006, Chambers entered an American Online (“AOL”) chat room entitled “I Love Much Older Men,” and using the screen name “jefdean60,” initiated contact with the screen name “Riverprincess.” The online profile for “Riverprincess” revealed that the user was a 14-year-old girl named Kendal; in actuality the girl was an undercover police detective named Carrie Smithberger. Over a span of fourteen months, Chambers contacted Kendal hundreds of times, engaging in sexually explicit online chats, e-mails, text messages, and telephone conversations.

While partaking in the online relationship with Kendal, Chambers continued to initiate contact with other young users of the “I Love Much Older Men” chat room. On May 21, 2006, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Jonathon Cook, under the guise of a 13-year-old girl named Jen with the screen name “Jensluv2cheer,” entered into the same AOL chat room, and Chambers initiated a conversation. During this single conversation, Chambers inquired about Jen’s appearance and sexual development, spoke in sexually suggestive language, sent Jen a sexually explicit image of what he claimed was himself, and told Jen he was masturbating and asked her to do the same “to make the experience better for him.”

Approximately one year later in March 2007, Chambers, again using the screen name jefdean60, initiated contact with “Kaitlynm13” in the AOL chat room “I Love Much Older Men.” The user of this screen name was actually Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Wade Luders, posing as a 13-year-old female named Kaitlyn. During the chat with Kaitlyn, Chambers used sexually explicit language and e-mailed Kaitlyn pornographic pictures of both adults and children as well as videos of minors being sexually abused and engaging in sexual acts. Chambers then asked Kaitlyn if she would perform sexual acts and send him pictures.
 

 

Judge(s): William Bauer
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
Related Categories: Communications
 
Circuit Court Judge(s)
William Bauer
David Hamilton
Diane Wood

 
Trial Court Judge(s)
Jeanne Scott

 
Appellant Lawyer(s) Appellant Law Firm(s)
Ronald Stone Stratton Giganti Stone & Kopec

 
Appellee Lawyer(s) Appellee Law Firm(s)
Linda Mullen United States Departmet of Justice

 

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("[section 2422(b)] targets the sexual grooming of minors sexual misconduct with a child victim may establish a interrupted or made a mistake, he would have com- defendant's sexual interest in children and thereby serve (...continued)1 chambers sent kaitlyn images and video of adult and child in the which makes it a crime to use interstate commerce to with his ex-girlfriend's 14-year-old daughter. second, the bunch of talk." chambers also emphasizes the testimony consideration of the testimony in accordance with the under federal rule of evidence 404(b), each of which introduced evidence that chambers sent pornography does not provide support for chambers' case. further- while speech alone is not enough to establish a "sub- meet were a substantial step); united states v. bailey, 228 activity."); united states v. hensley, 574 f.3d 384, 391 (7th and purported minor never met, but the two had a "travel is not a sine qua non of finding a substantial step." case on an improper basis, commonly an emotional one, using the screen name "jefdean60," initiated contact with grooming kendal. he used many common grooming evidence under rule 404(b) of chambers' internet chats dant, but here it was not unfairly prejudicial. we find tion: united states v. tykarsky, 446 f.3d 458, 469 (3d cir. sonable doubt that his actions were more than just "a warrant to search chambers' residence and seized cham- young users of the "i love much older men" chat room. 1999). the verdict is so contrary to the weight of evidence was taking birth control and by purchasing viagra chambers' objections, admitted several pieces of evidence proposed rule 404(b) evidence, the district court judge believed 394, 398 (7th cir. 1985). ually graphic language. in that conversation, chambers near kendal's hometown in ohio so that he could have and will find that evidence was properly admitted if: the defendant. fed. r. evid. 403. "evidence is unfairly to sexual material; the ultimate goal of grooming is the chambers argues that he neither intended to meet motion for a new trial, our task is to determine whether to meet kendal, there was no substantial step. while it cir. 1985). a substantial step occurs when a person's lacking is unconvincing. he argues that his failure to the federal rules of criminal procedure, which were older men." the user of this screen name was actually of chambers' rule 33 and rule 29 motions. rather than on the evidence presented." united states no. 09-3654 3 on june 13, 2007, federal agents obtained a search favorable to the government. united states v. jones, 222 no. 09-3654 13 ("aol") chat room entitled "i love much older men," and no. 09-3654 11 is true that chambers never traveled to meet kendal, before bauer, wood and hamilton, circuit judges. a rule 404(b) analysis. certain evidence under federal rule of evidence 404(b). with special agent cook, under the name jen, arguing court's admission of rule 404(b) evidence. united states 492 (7th cir. 1999). ficient to support a jury finding that the defendant com- federal bureau of investigation special agent wade substantial step toward the completion of the crime. b. rule 404(b) evidence rather than the defendant's intent to engage in sexual thomas, 410 f.3d 1235, 1245-46 (10th cir. 2005) (holding that substantial step). correct that evidence of child pornography and sexual activity in violation of 18 u.s.c. 2422(b) and of entered into the same aol chat room, and chambers ii. discussion most favorable to the government, any rational trier of on chambers' computer, most of which were not related between chambers and jen which was filled with sex- and epidemiological aspects of child maltreatment," 19 victions. the government filed a superceding indictment adding a children." united states v. sebolt, 460 f.3d 910, 917 (7th pornography to detective smithberger and special agent on his propensity to entice minors and that the evidence images. he said that he discussed meeting the minors v. ciesiolka, 614 f.3d 347, 358 (7th cir. 2010). however, the rulings will not be reversed on appeal absent a showing indicates that there was no intent to actually meet her, and that no reasonable jury could conclude beyond a rea- language and boasted about having sex with his ex-girl- sexual development, spoke in sexually suggestive lan- any showing that the jury could not follow the court's girl named kendal; in actuality the girl was an under- both denied by the court. we review a rule 29 motion in a pre-trial hearing regarding the admissibility of this2 invited kendal to travel at his expense to meet him all found that "when a defendant initiates conversation true, but the statements in this chat are highly proba- persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing a minor to beyond a reasonable doubt. united states v. hicks, 368 a jury found chambers guilty on all three counts. cir. 2006) (citing united states v. cunningham, 103 f.3d other preparatory actions to establish his intent and a jury could conclude that chambers' actions amounted would meet and the defendant ensured the purported chambers now appeals his convictions. 2006) (concluding that instant messages arranging a meeting better for him." old daughter of an ex-girlfriend and inquired into mitting the evidence and give a proper limiting instruc- dence 404(b) provides that evidence of other crimes, meet kendal for sex and not just talk about it. the jury fed. r. evid. 402. however, federal rule of evi- (continued...) luders, posing as a 13-year-old female named kaitlyn. plans to meet, including several exact meeting points, stantial step," gladish, 536 f.3d at 650, here, a reasonable act is similar enough and close enough in time to be prisonment. chambers challenges the sufficiency of the to perform those acts, he has crossed the line toward goetzke, 494 f.3d 1231, 1237 (9th cir. 2007).1 that a new trial is warranted, and we affirm the denial images pertained to his charges, specifically count iii commerce in violation of 18 u.s.c. 2252a(a)(1). the of abuse of discretion. united states v. harris, 761 f.2d a span of fourteen months, chambers contacted kendal mail to her. while the plans to meet never culminated in unfair prejudice, a case in which we reversed the district judge provided a limiting instruction to the jury re- charged with attempted enticement of kaitlyn. this is tion, chambers inquired about jen's appearance and and the admission of certain evidence under federal f.3d 349, 351 (7th cir. 2000). when evaluating a rule 33 12 no. 09-3654 course of two years. the government argues that the value of the evidence was substantially outweighed disgust the jury toward chambers." sexual abuse of a cure any prejudice. charged offense involving the sexual exploitation of united states v. zawada, 552 f.3d 531, 535 (7th cir. 2008) toward him. ined maps of her neighborhood, and inquired about 18 u.s.c. 2422(b) (2006). to prove the attempt of here, there is significant evidence that chambers was affirm chambers' convictions. agent jonathon cook, under the guise of a 13-year-old united states court of appeals court did not give a cautionary limiting instruction to "that evidence may be highly prejudicial does not conversations with "riverprincess" and other minors, having sexual intercourse with jen. finally, the court finally, chambers argues that the district court abused bers' computer and other evidence linking chambers to spoke to her in sexually explicit terms, e-mailed her motive and intent. we agree. "prior instances of analysis, arguing that the evidence was probative only pleted the crime. gladish, 536 f.3d at 648. to more than mere "hot air" or "a bunch of talk." the jury's again using the screen name jefdean60, initiated contact united states v. lee, 558 f.3d 638, 649 (7th cir. 2009)). like to perform on the minor, and proposes a rendezvous was offered primarily to prove "grooming," motive, and toward persuading or inducing a minor); united states v. that the pornographic images and the chats were actually chambers continued to initiate contact with other pornography on chambers' computer. only one of those her. when kendal responded that she had no means to garding the evidence entered under rule 404(b). "absent with her and instructed her on how to arouse herself, chats, e-mails, text messages, and telephone conversations. admitted twenty-two child pornography images found v. evidence used to prove the attempted enticement charge compelled to reverse and remand the case based on the no. 09-3654 7 females. he admitted that he had engaged in sexual united states v. washington, 184 f.3d 653, 657 (7th cir. 8 no. 09-3654 tive on the child pornography transportation charge. send him pictures, chambers obtained a web camera to appeal from the united states district court agent luders. the extensive supply of pornographic about driving after a recent dui conviction. he formu- in issue other than the defendant's propensity to commit evidence probative as to chambers' motive and intent. for the central district of illinois. limiting instruction, we presume that the jury limited its knowingly transporting child pornography in interstate formation of an emotional connection with the child and by unfair prejudice. he then maintains that the district evid. 404(b). this type of evidence may be admissible that chambers said he never intended to meet any acts. chambers then asked kaitlyn if she would perform charge. we give a jury verdict great deference and will for his encounter with kendal by confirming that kendal interviewed chambers upon his arrest--who testified lated a plan to meet kendal on an amtrak train in or pellant jeffrey dean chambers of attempting to entice attempt or to knowingly persuade, induce, entice, or uphold the verdict if, viewing the evidence in the light we assume that the instruction removed any unfair preju- when plea negotiations failed to resolve the issues, evidence was unfairly prejudicial because the court felt prejudicial only if it will induce the jury to decide the told her that he had sexual intercourse for years with under the alias kaitlyn. specifically, the government chambers was charged with two counts of knowingly minors in person. nevertheless, the jury was entitled to intent. first, the court allowed into evidence chambers' images of children on chambers' computer makes that smithberger, under the alias kendal. that the chat demonstrates nothing more than chambers' jeffrey dean chambers, pornography, and this conversation was properly admitted chambers asserts that this evidence was "sure to with a minor, describes the sexual acts that he would this crime, the prosecution must show that chambers with the district court that it was not unfairly prejudicial engage in prostitution or any sexual activity for which 10 no. 09-3654 for the foregoing reasons, we affirm chambers' con- did not have to believe chambers when he said he had the chats with special agent luders and detective of talk." (conviction for enticement upheld when the defendant chat rooms and was interested in chatting with young cover police detective named carrie smithberger. over "riverprincess" revealed that the user was a 14-year-old deliberate actions taken by a defendant to expose a child as a general matter, all relevant evidence is admissible. acquittal and a rule 33 motion for a new trial pursuant to 557 (7th cir. 2008)). a reduction of the child's inhibitions in order to that a new trial is required in the interests of justice. adult and child pornography, discussed sexual activities the jury convicted chambers under 18 u.s.c. 2422(b), no. 09-3654 graphic sexual topics and a previous sexual encounter to kaitlyn and that he chatted with kaitlyn about first, chambers objects to the admission of his chat verdict was not so contrary to the weight of evidence with special agent luders, posing as kaitlyn, arguing more, the record makes clear that the district court 2 no. 09-3654 dice. see id. (citing united states v. vargas, 552 f.3d 550, involving transporting child pornography to special courts employ a four-part test to determine whether approximately one year later in march 2007, chambers, no. 09-3654 9 of unfair prejudice. united states v. asher, 178 f.3d 486, not follow the court's limiting instruction. therefore, him by discussing in graphic detail how the act would j. legal med. 471, 479 (1998). initiated a conversation. during this single conversa- to have sex but never actually intended to do so. the defendant's initiation of sexual online chats with the kaitlyn. no. 09-2498, 2011 wl 1238309, at *13 (7th cir. apr. 5, 2011) udicial." zahursky, 580 f.3d at 525. while chambers is kendal. chambers' argument that evidence of intent is pornography to detective smithberger, under the alias motels within walking distance of her home. he also intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or ab- more than a "bare-bones conclusion," and the evidence gladish, 536 f.3d 646, 648 (7th cir. 2008). the term "sub- should not have been admissible because any probative claimed was himself, and told jen he was masturbating with a purported minor and appearing at the meeting de novo, accepting the factual findings in the light most federal rule of evidence 403 provides for the exclusion for his own use during the encounter. furthermore, cir. 2009); gladish, 536 f.3d at 649. grooming refers to guage, sent jen a sexually explicit image of what he for the seventh circuit statute's focus is on the intended effect on the minor the last act necessary before actual commission of the next, chambers objects to the admission of his chat demonstrate chambers' sexual feelings toward children. any evidence of it is no doubt unfavorable to the defen- chats with young girls may be prejudicial, we agree to prove intent and absence of mistake. as well as the actual sexual exploitation of them. the based on the evidence presented by the government. with "kaitlynm13" in the aol chat room "i love much 6-16-11 chambers filed a rule 29 motion for a judgment of on may 21, 2006, federal bureau of investigation special (citing doe v. smith, 470 f.3d 331, 345 n. 23 (7th cir. crime. united states v. rovetuso, 768 f.2d 809, 821 (7th united states v. harris, 536 f.3d 798, 809 (7th cir. 2008)). no intention to meet kendal and the jury was instructed a meeting, it was more a substantial step than "a bunch no. 09-3654 5 in march 2006, chambers entered an american online during the chat with kaitlyn, chambers used sexually officer and repeatedly inquired about nude pictures of tion. here, the district court did explain its reasoning in through a period of grooming. united states v. berg, purported minor and attempting to make arrangements to minor was taking birth control); gladish, 536 f.3d at 649 kendal, and to special agent luders, under the alias on chambers' computer. a trial court's evidentiary2 plaintiff-appellee, compel its exclusion; the evidence must be unfairly prej- chambers next argues that because he did not travel ficient evidence to prove the attempted enticement internet chat and e-mails with special agent luders, a. evidence of attempted enticement of a minor 6 no. 09-3654 coerce any individual under the age of eighteen to court admitted into evidence chambers' internet chat mitted the similar act; and (4) the probative value of the as evidence of the defendant's motive to commit a sexually explicit nature of the chat, is admissible to show a minor under the age of eighteen to engage in sexual and asked her to do the same "to make the experience with special agent luders, internet chats with special court's instruction." zahursky, 580 f.3d at 525-26 (quoting i. background concrete conversation about where and when they kendal. during the execution of the search warrant, meet kendal after fourteen months of chatting online f.supp.2d 742, 749-50 (m.d. pa. 2007); sana loue, "legal we recognize that child sexual abuse can be accom- described as more than mere preparation, but less than 14 no. 09-3654 no abuse of discretion by the district court in admitting stantial step" toward its completion. united states v. occur. in addition to grooming kendal, chambers took f.3d 637, 639-40 (6th cir. 2000) (holding that the defendant's child or the attempt thereof is a disgusting crime and ment to establish chambers' ability to transfer porno- engage in unlawful sexual activity." united states v. ernment offered a one-and-a-half-hour-long chat log ciesiolka court never reached the issue of whether the v. zahursky, 580 f.3d 515, 525 (7th cir. 2009) (citing the challenged evidence. district court sentenced chambers to 240 months' im- chambers and kendal repeatedly discussed specific place provided sufficient evidence of a substantial step chambers relies on united states v. ciesiolka in arguing methods during his communications with kendal; he chambers evidenced concern that kendal was a police described how he had sexual intercourse with the 14-year- district court's failure to explain its reasoning for ad- rule of evidence 404(b). for the following reasons, we with special agent cook, under the alias jen. the gov- a possible prior sexual act with a minor, as well as the portion of the trial than in ciesiolka. the ciesiolka opinion (1) the evidence is directed toward establishing a matter chambers has not attempted to show that the jury could propensity to commit the charged crime. fed. r. count charging enticement of a minor in violation of to the charges. the images were entered by the govern- relevant to the matter in issue; (3) the evidence is suf- luders, as well as his sexual inclination towards children. actions make it reasonably clear that had he not been girl named jen with the screen name "jensluv2cheer," agent cook, and images of child pornography found any individual can be charged with a criminal offense. defendant-appellant. fact could have found the essential elements of the crime hundreds of times, engaging in sexually explicit online where he lived in illinois because he was concerned of fbi agent christopher lamb--one of the agents who it demonstrates chambers' ability to transport child his home. chambers admitted that he frequented aol graphic images to the undercover agents, as well as to first prong is satisfied because the information regarding bauer, circuit judge. a jury convicted defendant-ap- the district court, over chambers' objections, admitted wrongs, or acts is inadmissible to prove a defendant's sexual acts and send him pictures. sex with her on the train. chambers further prepared united states of america, and that he sent her and other minors pornographic as much. a reasonable jury could have found intent intended to complete the crime and had taken a "sub- prepare the child for sexual activity. doe v. liberatore, 478 part of the res gestae of the case, but nonetheless completed and discussed in detail how kendal would sneak out of stantial step" can be an elusive concept, but has been 553, 556 (7th cir. 1996)); see zahursky, 580 f.3d at 524. chambers was tried by a jury. the district court, over that the evidence was not probative because he was not for other purposes though, such as "motive, opportunity, in violation of 18 u.s.c. 2252a(a)(1) for sending child argued january 14, 2011--decided june 16, 2011 while partaking in the online relationship with kendal, goetzke cited the following cases in support of this proposi-1 chambers argues that the government produced insuf- f.3d 801, 804-05 (7th cir. 2004). propensity to entice minors. in this chat, along with its discretion in admitting twenty-two images of child 2006)). the third, sixth, ninth, and tenth circuits have minors being sexually abused and engaging in sexual 18 u.s.c. 2422(b) for chambers' contact with detective explicit language and e-mailed kaitlyn pornographic attempts to schedule meetings with minors constituted a pictures of both adults and children as well as videos of smithberger, chambers spoke in sexually explicit the screen name "riverprincess." the online profile for the crime charged; (2) the evidence shows that the other was much less voluminous and took up a much smaller transporting child pornography in interstate commerce her house. chambers obtained her home address, exam- his ex-girlfriend's 14-year-old daughter, and otherwise iii. conclusion sence of mistake or accident." fed. r. evid. 404(b). but, 4 no. 09-3654 evidence is not substantially outweighed by the danger conclude from the evidence that chambers' intent was to plished by several means and is often carried out chambers consented to an interview by an agent at no. 3:08-cr-30057-jes-bgc-1--jeanne e. scott, judge. friend's 14-year-old daughter multiple times over the chambers' second challenge is to the admission of evidence of prior acts is admissible under rule 404(b) of relevant evidence that is unfairly prejudicial to chambers challenges the first and fourth factors of this attempted to prepare her for a sexual encounter with kendal nor took a substantial step toward meeting


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