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The pairs then chatted with each other for 30 minutes.

Later, he switched to using a webcam, according to a profile by Matt Bai in the New York Times Magazine.

Then came that fateful day in February 2009 on which, in a Yahoo chat room for adults, he conversed with “Emily.” Although she told him she was 15, Emily was actually a small-town police officer, trolling for sexual predators online.

The Internet just happens to provide many of the things sex addicts seek, all in one place: isolation, secrecy, fantasy material, endless variety, around-the-clock availability, instant accessibility and a rapid means of returning, low or no cost.

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After doing his usual thing of masturbating in front of the webcam, Ritter announced he was signing off to take a shower.

Not so fast, retorted the officer: Ritter turned himself in.Just like Ritter, Plumridge engaged in online chat with an undercover police officer posing as a teenage girl, in this case a 13-year-old with the screen name of “Erin Princess Baby.” His defense was simple, according to a forthcoming article in Psychiatry, Psychology and Law: “He claimed that he knew the person with whom he was communicating was an older male and he was simply role playing.” At trial, he testified that the covert police operative inadvertently supplied various content cues as to his true age and gender.For example, he signed off by saying "see ya later alligator," something no self-respecting 21st-century girl would say.Even more tellingly, he accidentally said he ("she") was at the office when "she" was supposed to be home from school, a glaring error that "she" immediately corrected. Criminologist Robyn Lincoln of Bond University and forensic psychologist Ian R.Coyle, a Gold Coast practitioner and associate professor of law who testified in the case, decided to conduct a study to test the plausibility of Plumridge’s defense. Lincoln and Coyle randomly assigned 46 students as either "deceivers" or "receivers." Each volunteer participant was met off-site and individually led to one of several private study locations, to preclude chance encounters with other participants.None of the receivers believed they were talking to someone under the age of 16.