A judge sentenced an Edgewater man who was convicted of sexual solicitation of a minor in August to 18 months incarceration suspended to three years of supervised probation in Anne Arundel County.
In 2016, Tracey Neal Dove, who was 49 at the time, drove from his home in Edgewater to the Bob Evans restaurant on First Colony Boulevard in California to meet “Sarah,” a Maryland State Police officer who had been texting Dove and posing as a 13-year-old girl.
“Sarah,” who was later identified as Trooper Christopher Reid, had responded to a post Dove had made on Craigslist, where he said that he was “looking for a lady” in the men seeking women section of the website.
That site required for users to acknowledge that they were above the age of 18 and seeking adults, according to Dove’s defense.
“Sarah” had identified herself as a 13-year-old three times during the conversation with Dove, and said that she was suspended from school, according to a prosecutor.
Dove was found guilty of the charge after a one-day trial in August.
At Dove’s sentencing hearing on Monday, Assistant State’s Attorney Julie White said that the “text messages that were sent back and forth to what he thought was a 13-year-old girl are completely beyond the pale.”
“The state’s position is that he continued the conversation after the trooper identified himself as a 13-year-old,” White said.
Edie Fortuna, a public defender representing Dove for sentencing, said that Dove has had “a pretty lonely existence,” and that Reid had “basically tricked him” into the charge.
“I do think the jury has spoken and we do accept the verdict,” Fortuna said in court.
“I don’t think this is beyond the pale, I think this is the lowest-level offense” to be convicted of sexual solicitation of a minor, the lawyer said.
Dove said that he was “totally embarrassed” by the incident and said that he wanted to continue working.
St. Mary’s Circuit Judge David W. Densford noted that Dove was not actively seeking minors online. “In this particular case, if the evidence indicated that Mr. Dove was a predator,” he could be sentenced for more time, Densford said, adding “that’s not what we have here.
“He was not on a minor website, and does not have any involvement with a minor at all,” Densford said. “There is certainly no indication this man is a threat, other than this conviction.”
Densford sentenced Dove to 18 months in the county detention center, suspended to three years of supervised probation in Anne Arundel County. Dove is also not allowed to contact minors online for any reason, may not be alone with a minor and will be registered as a sex offender for the next 25 years, according to Densford.