April 10, 2008
The case against a Howard University soccer coach accused of soliciting a Louisa County teen online is moving forward. A judge certified the charges against Joseph Okoh Thursday.
At the heart of this case lies the wording of the statute Joseph Okoh is accused of violating
“There is no way the officer could have known what Mr. Okoh knew or believed,” said defense attorney Paul Taylor.
Okoh had to "know" or have "reason to believe" he was meeting with someone underage. Okoh's attorney's are not disputing an online chat took place but are arguing he may not have thought he was meeting a 13 year old girl.
“The internet is a fantasy land, no one believes anything there. It is a complete imagination. It is virtual reality,” said defense attorney Sherman Lambert.
At the preliminary hearing the commonwealth said Okoh used the handle African youth 23 and asked lacy, a 13-year-old ninth grader if she was a virgin. They say within an hour Okoh was getting a hotel room and was on his way to Louisa County to pick up the girl, asking what she would tell her mom and dad
“It was a trick and subterfuge by police, the police officer is not a 13 year old girl that wears dresses and make up,” said Lambert.
“You go on and your profile says you're a 31 year old deputy you can't make that case,” said Commonwealth’s attorney Tom Garrett.
The defense says Okoh was in an adult chat room and could have reasonably believed he was chatting with an adult. Prosecutors say that argument won't hold up at trial.
“The defense infactual possibility has been raised in other jurisdictions and repeatedly in Virginia, it doesn't work here,” said Garrett.