An Orange County jury today found a former California Highway Patrol (CHP) lieutenant guilty of attempting a 2006 lewd act on a child in Laguna Beach.
A solemn-faced Stephen Robert Deck, 64, showed no outward sign of emotion when the clerk read the verdict.
I can guess why.
It’s the second time a jury rejected his claim that he drove an hour to meet the 13-year-old girl he’d met in an internet chatroom only to talk and watch television when he believed her parents were not home.
The middle-school girl turned out to be a police decoy whom Deck had repeatedly discussed condom-free intercourse and oral copulation during a six-day period leading up to the Feb. 18, 2006, rendezvous where undercover cops were waiting.
Deck faked a heart attack at the scene and criticized arresting officers, claiming they wouldn’t be able to prove he had sexual intentions and that Orange County juries don’t convict cops accused of wrongdoing.
Jurors told the Weekly that sexually explicit chatlogs between “Amy,” the decoy working for Perverted Justice in league with the Laguna Beach Police Department, powerfully demonstrated Deck’s guilt.
During one chat, the cop ridiculed laws banning sex between adults and children. In another, he talked about going shopping with the girl and getting her pregnant. In yet another, Deck fretted he’d go to prison if caught.
Prosecutor Robert Mestman, who won a 2009 conviction in the case, was forced to re-try the charge because in 2014 the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit determined that he’d botched a line pertaining to the definition of criminal intent in his closing argument.
With defense lawyer John Barnett by his side, Deck—a CHP boss at the San Juan Capistrano office at the time of the crime—walked out of the county’s central courthouse in Santa Ana as if he’d just witnessed a boring movie.
He long ago served less than a year in county jail and was hoping that a victory in the re-trial would have ended the court requirement that he publicly register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Superior Court Judge John D. Conley advised the ex-cop that he has 60 days to appeal.
For an unknown reason, Deck currently is not listed in Megan’s Law Registry operated by the California Attorney General’s office.
Perverted Justice gained national attention because of its work with NBC’s To Catch a Predator series with Chris Hansen.
The group’s sting nabbed 12 other men from around Southern California.
Go HERE to see the Weekly‘s coverage of the opening of Deck’s retrial.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; earned six dozen other reporting awards; and been hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.