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Child sex defense: It was all part of sexual roleplay, man claims

The prosecution and the defense rested their rested their cases on Tuesday in the trial of a Coral Springs man charged with computer pornography and child exploitation and with traveling to meet a minor to commit an unlawful sex act, both felonies, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

Steven Berkman, 28, was also charged with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, which he intended to smoke with the female he expected to meet for "casual sex," Berkman testified on Tuesday.

When Berkman arrived on Aug. 1, 2011, for the sexual rendezvous he'd arranged, he was greeted by a Boca Raton Police Department detective who promptly arrested him. The "female" with whom Berkman had been communicating online since July 26 was actually undercover detective Charles Ramos of the Boynton Beach Police Department.

Their communications included discussion of what Ramos and defense attorneys called Berkman's "school girl fetish." This sexual fantasy was also discussed by Ramos and Berkman when they took the witness stand on Tuesday, the second day of trial.

Berkman testified, however, that he defines the fantasy as an adult dressing as a schoolgirl in a short-skirt uniform, rather than a fantasy about an actual underage schoolgirl. Berkman said he thought he was communicating with a woman in her early 20s who was pretending to be a 15-year-old girl in the name of sexual role play.

"It's a fantasy world," Berkman said of the Internet and particularly Craigslist. "Everyone lies about everything. No one tells the truth about their age or their height or their appearance, and so you never really know who you're talking to, and that was the case here."

Posted by Times Editor at 4:42:58 pm on June 20, 2012

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