Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 | 3:06 p.m.
CARSON CITY — A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of a Las Vegas man caught in an FBI sting in which he used the Internet to try to arrange sex with a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl but was actually a federal agent.
Paris Cherer was sentenced to 24 years and five months in prison for attempting to persuade, entice or coerce a minor to engage in a sexual act.
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected Cherer’s claim that he was mentally incompetent to stand trial.
The court ruled that records showed Cherer had a “rational as well as a factual understanding of the proceedings against him” and was able to consult with his lawyer “with a reasonable degree of rational understanding.”
In July 2005, FBI Agent Sue Flaherty was in an American Online chat room in an undercover capacity using the screen name of SusieBabyGirl.
Cherer started an online conservation with her about sex, according to court records. In several of the messages, the agent identified herself as bing 14 years old and in one instance, Cherer replied, “cool, fourteen is cool,” according to court records.
A meeting was eventually arranged, and Flaherty sent Cherer a photograph of her when she was about 14 years old.
When Cherer, then 35, showed up for the meeting, he was arrested, according to court records.
Even though Cherer was messaging with an adult, he could be convicted because he believed his would-be sex partner was a minor, according to federal law cited in court appeals.