Sunday, December 09, 2007

Magistrate won't release ex-cop in enticement case

By:Alex Wood, Journal Inquirer
12/08/2007

A federal magistrate judge has refused to release former East Windsor [Connecticut] police Officer Darren E. Seligman from jail while an Internet child enticement case is pending against him.


In a written ruling issued this week, Magistrate Judge Thomas P. Smith called Seligman, 38, "a serious suicide risk" as well as a risk to the girl he is accused of trying to entice into sexual activity and to her mother.

Seligman and his lawyer, William H. Paetzold of Glastonbury, had temporarily agreed to Seligman's being held without bail after FBI agents arrested him at the East Windsor police station in late October.

But they sought his release at a hearing Monday before Smith in U.S. District Court in Hartford.
In support of the application they filed a psychological report by Dr. Leslie M. Lothstein, which was sealed from public view. A federal prosecutor cross-examined Lothstein about the report at Monday's hearing.

"During his interview with Dr. Lothstein, the defendant explained that he did not realize that the victim was only 11 years old, but, rather, believed she was post-pubescent," Smith wrote in his two-page ruling, dated Wednesday. "Dr. Lothstein appears not to have believed this; neither does the court."

The judge wrote that Lothstein acknowledged on cross-examination that Seligman "poses a risk to the victim in this case as well as to her mother. In addition, Dr. Lothstein indicated that the defendant poses a risk to himself.

"Indeed, during the hearing and as noted on the record, the defendant appeared to be severely distressed," Smith continued.

The judge wrote that the proposed release conditions "would facilitate the defendant's harming himself."
Paetzold couldn't be reached for comment Friday evening.

The girl Seligman is accused of trying to entice into sexual activity once lived near him in Mansfield. But the communications at issue occurred after her family moved away in August.

Against Paetzold's advice, Seligman stood up at an early court hearing in his case and apologized for his conduct, even as he maintained that he never intended to meet the girl.

The latter claim could represent a legal defense to the criminal charge he is facing. But Seligman said he "will likely be a convicted felon and sex offender."

He subsequently resigned from the East Windsor police force.
Seligman can appeal Smith's decision to a U.S. district judge, who is appointed for life rather than serving an eight-year term as Smith does.

If convicted of the charge he is facing, trying to entice a minor into illegal sexual activity via an "interstate facility," Seligman could face a minimum of 10 years in prison. The charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, but actual sentences for first-time offenders like Seligman tend to be at or near the minimum when it is as severe as 10 years.


©Journal Inquirer 2007

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