It took a jury less than one hour to convict a Richmond man of one count of using a communication system to solicit a child under 15 for sex.
In Louisa County Circuit Court on Nov. 26, the eight women and four-man jury sentenced Adam Derrick Toghill, 32, to the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years.
Toghill was one of eight people arrested in April 2011 during the “Operation Guardian Online” sting conducted by the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the Albermarle and Charlottesville Police Departments.
Detective Patrick Siewert, who has worked in the Internet Crimes Again Children (ICAC) task force in the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office for five years, testified during the trial.
Siewert and Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire guided the jury through the sting operation and presented the emails received from Toghill in March 2011.
Siewert, posing as a 13-year-old girl from Gum Spring who was suspended from school and home alone, had placed an ad on craigslist under the heading of miscellaneous romance on March 10, 2011.
McGuire said even though all the indicators showed that the ad was from a child, Toghill replied to the ad anyway.
According to McGuire, witheach subsequent email received, Toghill gradually became more graphic in his replies and sent a picture of himself while requesting more than once for pictures of the girl.
McGuire presented the jury the emails which were sent in the span of one hour from Toghill’s cell phone to help show intent.
When asked by the defense attorney, Todd Stone, why Siewert used Gum Springs instead of Louisa in the ad, Siewert responded that such predators know the reputation of Louisa County in regards to policing the Internet for online solicitors of children and often avoid the area.
Stone motioned the court to strike the language in the emails written by Toghill, stating that the language was expressing a desire and not a solicitation or intent.
McGuire argued that Toghill was the one who initiated the conversation knowing full well he was conversing with a minor and that he not only sent a picture of himself while requesting pictures of the child, but also became extremely graphic in communicating his desires.
To read the entire story, see the Nov. 29 edition of The Central Virginian.