CRIME
06/20/2012 11:45 am ET

Charles Berkman, Charged With Child Exploitation, Unlawful Sex Act Says He Was Roleplaying

A Florida man accused of trying to lure a 15-year-old girl into having sex told a court on Tuesday that he was simply roleplaying.

Charles Berkman, 28, was allegedly caught in a sting operation in which an officer posed as a teenage girl on Craigslist. Berkman was on the site looking for casual sex in August 2011 when he first sent the officer messages, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Berkman and the undercover agent exchanged e-mails, texts and instant messages, eventually agreeing to meet. When the Coral Springs man arrived at a predetermined location for sex, he was arrested and charged with child exploitation and traveling to meet a minor to commit an unlawful sex act.

On Tuesday, the prosecution and defense rested their case following Berkman's testimony. The defendant claimed that he thought the girl on Craigslist was really in her 20s, but acting 15 for the sexual role play.

"It's a fantasy world," Berkman said of the website. "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."

His fantasy, in this case, was a "school girl fetish," the undercover officer testified.

Berkman also said that he thought he was being arrested for a marijuana-related charge. When he was arrested, he had pot-laced candy ready for the "girl" he was about to meet, the Florida Statesman reported.

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