A sheriff’s deputy in Lake County has been charged with obstruction of justice and soliciting a sex act despite attempting to cover up his tracks by deleting over 50 messages between himself and the woman in question.
Eric Francke, the deputy at the center of the case, was in court Thursday as opening arguments began. The woman in question failed to appear in court, which later resulted in the suspension of the trial, but prosecutors still laid out their argument that Francke was attempting to solicit sex. According to the prosecution, some of the deleted texts mentioned a price of $300 an hour, and Francke’s home address.
Francke’s attorney, Chris Lombardo, said much of the evidence against his client was circumstantial, and no money ever exchanged hands. According to Lombardo:
- None of the text messages mentioned a sex act.
- Francke never gave money to the woman.
- The woman was never charged with a crime.
- Prosecutors couldn’t prove that Francke deleted the texts to hide them.
- When first questioned about the incident, Francke told investigators he had been trying to hire a masseuse to help relieve pain caused by leg cramps.
Authorities were tipped to Francke’s actions by a routine traffic stop. According to the police report, an officer stopped a vehicle that was driving without its lights on. Two men and a woman were inside the vehicle, and the two men told the officer they had arranged for the female passenger to have sex with clients for money. They informed the officer that they had just finished up at one house, and they were on the way to the next stop, which turned out to be Francke’s address.
The woman was scheduled to appear in court Thursday, but she did not show. Court was adjourned until authorities could learn more about her whereabouts.
Attorney Sean Sullivan comments
What this goes to show is that time and again, innovations in technology are having major implications in criminal law. Again we have a case where text messages create an electronic trail of evidence that is used to help prove someone’s guilt. The advances in technology are great – they improve our quality of life in many areas. But people need to be mindful of what they are putting out there into the world. More and more these days as a defense attorney I see text messages and social media posts being used as evidence against them in criminal proceedings.
Related source: Chicago Tribune