updated 2/3/2006 12:10:19 PM ET 2006-02-03T17:10:19

A judge on Thursday denied a request by defense attorneys to seal records and prevent the Riverside County district attorney's office from releasing information about the recent arrests of 49 men accused of attempted child molestation.

Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz denied both motions filed by the county's public defender's office, saying there wasn't enough evidence to justify the request. The decision affected only nine defendants who remain in custody.

It was unknown whether defense attorneys will file a similar motion with the other 40 men who have posted bail. A message left for defense attorneys was not immediately returned Thursday.

Motions opposing the defense move were filed by the district attorney's office and lawyers representing The Associated Press, NBC Universal and The (Riverside) Press-Enterprise.

The men were arrested last month during a coordinated sting involving the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and members of perverted-justice.com, a Web site which used fictitious Internet profiles of 12- and 13-year-old boys and girls to chat with suspected child molesters on the Internet.

The men were arrested after they showed up at a house in Mira Loma expecting to meet the children but instead found a crew from "Dateline NBC." Authorities said the suspects used sexually explicit conversations, which ranged from talk of various sex acts to sending of pornographic pictures and videos.

All 49 men face attempted child molestation counts, and some face additional counts of distribution of child pornography and failure to register as a sex offender.

Defense attorneys argued in court that the exposure from the "Dateline NBC" segment, which is slated to air Friday, would prevent those who were arrested from receiving a fair trial. However, Schwartz noted that attempts to prevent the segment from airing weren't mentioned in court filings.

A media attorney was pleased with the judge's decision. Attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr., who represented the news organizations, said he was pleased with the judge's decision.

"It's a good day for access and First Amendment issues," he said.

"Dateline" has aired previous segments involving suspected Internet sex predators. Both segments -- one in New York and another in northern Virginia -- did not include law enforcement.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments