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Lawyer considers challenge to tougher penalty for soliciting sex with minor

Judge's Gavel By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Judge's Gavel By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - In Wisconsin, you get a tougher penalty for soliciting sex online with a minor, than for actually having that sex. 

A lawyer for a suburban Milwaukee defendant says that's unfair -- and he'll challenge the stronger penalty if he's convicted. 

55-year-old James Heidke worked as a contracted food service director at the Whitnall School District, when he allegedly texted and e-mailed whom he thought was a 15-year-old boy to arrange sex. 

When they met, the teen was actually a Milwaukee police officer who arrested Heidke for using a computer to facilitate a sex crime.  

State lawmakers said they were tired of seeing defendants get probation for those crimes -- so last year, they required a mandatory five-year prison term as a penalty enhancer for soliciting child sex online. 

Heidke's lawyer, Michael Hart, says that if his client actually had sex with the youngster, there was a good chance he'd stay out of prison. Therefore, Hart says the penalty for planning sex is higher than for actually doing it -- and he wants the penalty enhancer dropped. 

Prosecutors justify the higher penalty. They say that soliciting sex is a more calculated and predatory act -- while the actual sex could come from a moment of human weakness. 

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Borowski will decide the issue of the penalty enhancer next month.