When Eric Norris found an ad on Craigslist about a sexual encounter with a minor, he promptly replied: “I am interested.”
For three days, Norris had non-stop graphic discussions about what he would do to the 12-year-old girl. He also sent explicit photos of himself.
On May 19, 2017, Norris drove from Jacksonville to a closed gas station in Davenport, where he thought he would be meeting a 12-year-old girl and her stepmother for sex. He was met by members of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office instead.
A jury convicted Norris Thursday of attempted lewd battery, traveling to meet the parent of a minor, and transmitting harmful material to a minor. He is facing 35 years in prison and will be sentenced June 15.
When Norris took the witness stand, he claimed that his graphic communications were simply a way to keep the conversation going. He also said he didn’t believe a minor was actually involved and that he thought he was fulfilling the other person’s fantasy.
But when Assistant State Attorney Jacob Orr questioned Norris, he pointed out parts of their conversations that were more reality than fantasy.
Norris discussed which sexual acts the stepmother – who was played by an undercover detective – would allow him to perform on the girl.
“Boundaries were placed as to what was and wasn’t OK. Wouldn’t that would be limiting the fantasy and turning it to reality?” Orr asked Norris, who agreed.
Orr also pinpointed a part of the conversation where Norris said he would be there for the girl if he accidentally got her pregnant.
“Teen pregnancy,” Orr said. “That’s a fantasy you wanted to have? That’s not real life?”
Norris also claimed there were red flags from the beginning and that he thought the Craigslist ad was a setup. But Norris said he continued the conversation anyway because he was lonely and wanted to talk to someone.
“He said he saw red flags and knew it was a lie, but he still drove two hours to meet them,” Orr said. “Is that reasonable?
The defense told jurors that this case was about nothing more than adults lying to each other and that there was no evidence to show what Norris was actually thinking.
Orr reminded the jury that Norris’ intentions were clear based on the nature of the chats he had with undercover detectives.
“There’s no doubt what this man was interested in doing. There’s no role play. No backing up. It’s all the time, every day. It is as graphic as it can be,” Orr said. “We are left with an inescapable reason why a man would travel to Davenport and park at that gas station – it’s because he’s guilty.”