This seems a little... I don't know... wrongheaded. First though: people shouldn't fuck minors and men who trawl the internet for 14-year-old girls are 1. criminals and 2. fools. (Attention late-middle-aged creeps: there are no 14-year-old girls looking for 52-year-old men online. Any 14-year-old girl you meet online who expresses any interest in you whatsoever is a cop.)

The details: the mayor of Racine, Wisconsin, was busted after interwebs chatting with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl. (But—surprise!—the 14-year-old girl was actually "a state investigator"! No one could've predicted!) Gary Becker pleaded guilty to two charges—child enticement and attempted sexual assault of a child—and was supposed to get probation. But the judge told Becker at sentencing that while the judge had been "prepared to sentence Becker to probation," the court had learned out that two weeks before sentencing Becker had purchased a pair of girls' panties. So Becker got three years in prison instead.

Buying girls' panties—which are famously sold in vending machines in Japan (um, does anyone know if that's actually true?)—isn't a crime. I don't want to come off as soft on sex creeps trawling the internet for minors or anything, but... clearly Becker is attracted to teenage girls. Hitting on 14-year-old girls—or state investigators he believes to be 14-year-old girls—is a hugely stupid move and a crime. And Becker was quite rightly arrested and prosecuted (and, as a consequence, ruined politically and professionally and personally). But being prosecuted isn't going to magically relieve Becker of his attraction to 14-year-old girls. It should make him realize—if he didn't realize it already—that he can never act on his feelings, that he shouldn't approach 14-year-old girls online or anywhere else, that he was burdened with sexual interests and fantasies that he would never be able to act on with a partner.

So... um... why punish him for buying girls' panties? Becker shouldn't be praised for buying panties, and it's certainly a creepy detail, and I wouldn't want him buying panties in my panties shop, but isn't masturbation a harmless way for Becker to express himself sexually? Soliciting sex from 14-year-old girls—or state investigators—is a crime. But beating off with a brand new pair of panties could only be described as a dirty thought crime.

And, yes, he wasn't really sentenced to three years in prison for buying the panties. The purchase was taken into account at sentencing, and judges have a lot of leeway. But... still.