United States v. Parkhurst, No. 16-3102 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Parkhurst posted advertisements on Craigslist’s “casual encounters” section, looking for “a very young white boy … little to no body hair … 18 or slightly older (younger the better) … prefer … a virgin.” Decatur Detective Koester responded as 15-year-old “Kacy,” who stated: I am 15. Parkhurst responded, “You are only too young if you can’t keep a secret.” A sexually explicit exchange followed. Parkhurst planned to pick Kacy up after Kacy’s mother left for work, take Kacy to Parkhurst’s Springfield home for the night, and return to Decatur before his mother. Parkhurst arrived at the address Koester had provided and was arrested. Koester asked how old Parkhurst had believed Kacy was. Parkhurst answered, “I assumed I was talking to a fifteen or sixteen year old” and acknowledged that he had implicitly referenced oral sex in his conversation with Kacy. Parkhurst was convicted of attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, 18 U.S.C. 2422(b) and sentenced to 132 months’ imprisonment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, upholding the admission of Koester’s testimony about the meaning of an online conversation about eating candy and about the meaning of phrases in the Craigslist ad. Koester’s dual role as a fact-expert witness did not confuse the jury. Parkhurst opened the door to questions about his emails with other individuals and did not show prejudice as a result of allegedly improper prosecutorial remarks about communications with another minor.