Internet luring charge a mistake: accused

A Mount Pearl man charged with internet luring says he thought he was chatting online with a woman in her 40s who was only pretending to be 14.

Paul Parsons, who was charged in Sept. 2009 with trying to lure children over the internet for sexual purposes, told provincial court in St. John's Thursday that he met a woman online at the web site Adult Friend Finder.

She would perform sexual acts over her web cam for him, the 59-year-old said. The online relationship lasted months before fizzling out, but the woman said she would get in touch, Parsons told the court.

Parsons said that when he later received a chat message saying "Hi," he thought it was his online playmate. He testified that when the girl said she was 14, he thought it was just the playmate roleplaying.

The supposed 14-year-old was actually Cst. Ed Billard of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, which had been investigating Parsons after receiving a complaint in 2008 that Parsons was trying to lure a child.

Parsons told the court his 40-something site partner had previously dressed up like Little Bo Peep and in witches' costumes during their chats.

He also said she changed her online identity five times.

'I'm not going out with children'

He said he never thought he was talking to a 14-year-old and that he would have stopped if he had believed it.

"I'm not going out with children," he said.

Parsons said he received a photo that shows a much younger woman in a soccer outfit. The court was shown a large eight-by-ten glossy of the photo, but Parsons said online it was only a one-inch square photo and he thought it was the woman.

The picture had been posted by police as part of the investigation into Parsons.

During cross examination, the Crown referred to the woman Parsons mentioned as the "mystery woman."

A Crown lawyer said Parsons never mentioned her before, not even during an hour-long statement he gave to the police.

The trial is continuing with summations expected on Friday.