Crime

Viagra defense didn’t matter in child exploitation plea, high court rules

A man serving 10 years for child exploitation has been denied an appeal of his conviction, which includes a defense based on his Viagra use.

Robert Allen Worth, 60, asked the Mississippi Court of Appeals to overrule a Harrison County Circuit Court judge who had dismissed his appeal that lists four complaints about his guilty plea and sentencing.

Worth is serving time for exploitation of a child. He admitted he had made plans to have sex with a 13-year-old girl in Biloxi after talking to the child’s mother on the internet.

When Worth drove from Indianapolis, Indiana, to the Biloxi Lighthouse to meet the girl on April 20, 2012, he learned he’d been talking to a Biloxi police investigator instead, court records show. The investigator had a female persona in a chatroom to monitor sexual predators.

Police said they found condoms, a digital camera, lubricant and vibrators in Worth’s car.

Judge Chris Schmidt sentenced Worth on Nov. 17, 2014.

Worth filed a post-conviction relief petition claiming he had a medical defense the judge didn’t consider: that his sexually explicit emails were protected under the First Amendment; that the prosecutor and his attorney engaged in misconduct; and that his attorney didn’t give him adequate representation.

Worth’s petition said he has erectile dysfunction and he didn’t have his Viagra with him, so he lacked the “ability/intention to have sexual intercourse with anyone, much less a minor.” He argued the judge ignored that fact.

Worth claimed he shouldn’t be held responsible for trying to have sex with a child when he had been communicating with an undercover officer posing as a child. He also also claimed his attorney misinformed him on the length of sentence he faced.

Schmidt dismissed his petition Jan 21, 2016. The state’s high court upheld the dismissal on July 25.

“Put simply, there is no constitutional right to solicit sex with children via the internet,” said Judge Jack Wilson, writing for the court’s majority opinion.

Worth gave up the right to a defense when he pleaded guilty, so the state was not required to prove his medical condition and whether his lack of pills on hand mattered, Wilson wrote.

Worth’s written allegations of misconduct against his attorney and the prosecutor “are difficult to read and follow,” the ruling said, and lack “legal and evidentiary support.”

The First Amendment argument is frivolous and the other arguments are without merit, the ruling said.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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