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Mistrial after jury deadlock in Alan T. Panda case

Your rating: None Average: 2 (2 votes)

The trial of Alan Berlin, known in the furry fandom as Alan T. Panda, has begun. Berlin, a resident of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was arrested on May 28, 2009, on accusations that he had propositioned a fifteen-year-old boy over the internet. His arrest came after the boy's parents found sexually explicit messages on his computer and they contacted the Attorney General's Child Predator Unit.

Amongst furries, Berlin presented himself as a "daddyfur and caretaker" who was "looking for a babyfur to be (his) mate and companion in a long-term committed relationship." When Berlin's home was searched, wolf and cat-like costumes were found, and it was alleged that Berlin discussed dressing up in animal costumes and engaging in sex.

Update (14 Apr): The jury failed to reach a verdict. A new trial is set for May.

Berlin was released from jail on June 2, 2009, after posting bail, and on July 27 he waived his preliminary hearing in Dauphin County district court. His trial was initially scheduled for September 13, 2010, though was delayed until October. On October 27, just prior to the start of his trial, it was reported that Berlin had pleaded guilty to three felony counts in return for the attorney general’s office agreeing to drop several other charges against him.

On February 17, 2011, Berlin withdrew the pleas prior to sentencing, and a new trial date was set, with the Deputy Attorney General intending to reinstate the dropped charges.

On Tuesday April 12, the trial opened and prosecutors walked the jury through ten Yahoo Instant Messaging exchanges between Berlin and the teen that involved conversations about sex acts. In some of the messages, the two spoke of meeting to have sex in a backyard shed at the boy's home, and Berlin asked the teen to send him nude photos. Berlin responded by stating that the texts were "only role playing", and he had never intended to actually meet the boy in real life. He further said that he had not realized he was chatting with a teenage boy until authorities raided his home.

Deputy Attorney General Michael Sprow said Berlin was not just role-playing, but was trying to "groom" the boy for real-life sex. In his closing arguments, defense attorney William Tully countered this by saying that authorities had misinterpreted Berlin's online acts, and that his client never broke the law.

After deliberating for about five hours over two days, the jurors declared they were hopelessly deadlocked and unable to reach a verdict. Dauphin County President Judge Todd A. Hoover declared a mistrial, and set a new trial date for May. Alan Panda and his lawyer declined to comment.

Comments

Your rating: None

This will have interesting turn outs. No doubt followed by lots of drama. I wonder if the fact that he was a furry and a daddyfur came up in court?

Your rating: None

Well, this link indicates that Alan Panda described "his lifestyle as a 'furry'" to the jury, so yes to the first part. I don't know if babyfurs/daddyfurs came up.

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

from your link "Such role playing is a part of his lifestyle as a "furry," a member of a community of people who take on the roles of animals to engage in fantasy". Goddamnit! can not even one of our own get it right? I know that the definition of furry differs from person to person, but people assume so much when they give definitions. Furry is, at its base, the anthropomorphic fandom. If you are a fan of the anthropomorphic genre, then you can be considered a furry. Thats it. nothing else.

Your rating: None

Not surprised, a lot of Americans think being an American means eating apple pie and watching baseball too.

But typically only the ones watching baseball and eating apple pie...

So I don't see why furry would be any different.

Your rating: None

But...

I like apple pie. :( But I see your point. XD

Your rating: None

"Thats it"? I think you're leaving out a lot there. After all, isn't "fantasy" an inherent part of furry? I don't do any sort of "roleplay," but I've noticed quite a bit of that among our kind, as well.

Of course, illegal acts are illegal acts; there's truly "nothing else" to that.

Your rating: None Average: 3.2 (6 votes)

If he really wants to crash and burn fully, and get the most out of his fifteen minutes of fame, he should show up to court in fursuit.

Oh gawd, can anyone imagine the outcome of that? Talk Shows will be reaching out to furs across the country, every tv show currently on the air that can as farfetched as possible fit it into the overall plot will now have their very own 'furry' episode, documentaries will spring up everywhere with some even being well-financed, the made for tv movie of his trial will be finished before the real trial ends... and holy cow, cats and dogs LIVING TOGETHER! *LOL*

But it would also guarantee him a book deal at the end with all the sordid details... a pop up book?

Sorry, as poorly as this trial may end up reflecting on furry in the short run sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

That is an interesting look at it.

Your rating: None

I wonder if not realising he is under-age will work. If that wasn't easily available on-line or revealed in the messages then it could be true. And if it is true then he really shouldn't face punishment because he didn't knowingly commit a crime.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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If I remember correctly, it came out that he did know for a fact that the person he was communicating with was a minor.

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

I hope Alan goes away for a while. His actions were uncalled for, and he needs to be held responsible.
It sucks that he had to bring the furry community into this, but this should hopefully blow over pretty soon, and he will just be a small smudge on the fandom history.

No, not to 'blame the victim', but I wonder what ever happened to the kid in this? I mean, yeah, he was a minor, which puts Alan in the hot seat, but at the same time, this kid must have known what he was doing, and that it was wrong. Hopefully his parents took actions against him as well.

Your rating: None

It would be really interesting if the 15-year old was a babyfur, and did know what he was getting into...

Actually, no, I hope it's just an innocent kid we're talking about.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

Its also possible that Alan had mistaken the boys age as his fursonas/characters age (if he had one), not the minors real age. Its pretty common in RPs to act younger. I dont think it would help much if the teen really did say explicitly state his age though. Speaking of which, Id like to see a source where Alan states he knew the guy on the other line is/was underage. Judging from his ad I saw on Pounced (which has long since been pulled) he didnt seem like the type that would go for teens, especially when I recalled he stated he preferred guys in the 20-30 range.

Either way, You can tell Alan is desperate at trying to get out of this with whatever excuse comes first to mind; Asking someone to send you nude photos doesnt like RPing to me...

Your rating: None

If he's guilty then I hope he's sent away for a long time, I'm sure there's more to the case then what we're privy to. But whatever the outcome... I hope it's as drama-free and as far from referencing furry as possible, that I think we can all agree on and hope for.

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I'd really appreciate it if you posted an article about the result of the case (mistrial).

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Higgs was kind enough to post an update, which I've merged with this story.

Your rating: None Average: 2.6 (5 votes)

Save money on lawyers' fees: A quick trawl through FurAffinity will throw up any number of comments defending sexual predation on the non-consenting; simply arrange and edit these to form your opening and closing arguments.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

Exactly, like since someone uses YouTube they immediately tied with everything any user has ever said there.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

To me, it's very telling that the jury was deadlocked. To be honest, if Berlin himself responded, it means he took the stand, and typically in sex offense cases the defendant taking the stand is a suicide note. If enough members of the jury were swayed by his defense, it's possible he is innocent or at least VERY convincing. Having seen pictures of him? Doesn't seem jury friendly, so maybe his side of the story is very very plausible in the average person's mind.

Your rating: None

I have had an experience where an individual did not tell me their actual age until after role playing with them, and I was not happy with them.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (3 votes)

Well, I haven't seen anything about this on anything other than furry related sites, so hopefully this will just get swept under the rug like most 'sex' crimes.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

I say shoot him in the back of the head. Get rid of all pedophile filth.

Your rating: None

Of course the justice system doesn't do that, does it? Instead they make people feel all warm and cuddly and give them the needle.

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a (No longer a Flayrah contributor)