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Advocates and police say it's common for sexual predators to build trust with children online before coercing them, sometimes through blackmail, to send them explicit photos or to meet in person for sex.Children who have been abused are at a greater risk for being drawn into sex trafficking.
They spoke in sexually explicit terms with children by Facebook, text message and email.
As is common nationwide, these adults were convicted under a state law that made such salacious conversations a felony.
While it was found to be overly broad, a provision that makes it illegal to ask a minor to meet for sex still stands, if a meeting takes place.
Because of the ruling, adults can legally talk in sexually explicit terms with minors on Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo! Sharing or requesting nude photos and videos can still bring a misdemeanor charge.
Most of the cases resulted from an undercover sting conducted by police, and only a fraction of those charged had prior convictions.
Those who had not sought to have their cases reversed were more likely to have been convicted of related crimes, such as sexual abuse of a minor or possession of child pornography.
"Any normal person, I think, would say it is totally wrong for an adult to talk to a 9-year-old in this language," said Houston police Sgt.
Richard Hahn, commander of the regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
"Children will be victimized and at an alarming rate," said Ruthanne Mefford, CEO of Child Advocates of Fort Bend. These grooming conversations are traumatic for children.