“The opportunity was provided, and the opportunity was grabbed.” If anything, the judge said, Dobbs should feel lucky that he was caught in a sting, where he had only thought he was about to meet a 15-year-old.
“If there had been a real 15-year-old there,” the boy “may not recover from this for the rest of his life,” Jordan said. Thursday, Dobbs entered the courtroom with his attorney, David Felsen.
A longtime Maryland defense lawyer was sentenced to six months in jail Thursday for soliciting a minor for sex, concluding a case that turned on an online police sting and stunned the local legal community. Dobbs, 57, stood solemnly as the judgment was announced in a courthouse in Montgomery County, just north of Washington, where he had practiced for three decades. The case against Dobbs — who before doing defense work was a prosecutor — began on a Thursday afternoon seven months ago after he looked through personal ads on Craigslist.
He was given three weeks to report to jail so he can continue closing his law practice. Dobbs, as you well know — maybe more than anybody else in this room — this is a serious case, serious impact,” Circuit Judge Richard Jordan said, speaking before Dobbs and about 75 of his friends and family members, including two adult daughters, his wife, and his 85-year-old mother. He spotted one he liked and began trading emails with someone he thought was a young man interested in sex.
[Attorney expected in courthouse where he practices — to plead guilty in sex sting] The hearing began with Felsen saying that Dobbs should not be jailed and that he needed continued counseling and treatment for sex addiction, alcohol abuse and depression that led him into “out of control” behavior. “Some of our demons are things that we can control. I need him.” She spoke about her son having to tell his family members and friends what happened, and his being direct about it, saying: “He’s been upfront with everybody, and I think that ought to be taken into consideration.
Some of our demons are things that we have significant difficulty controlling.” Adding to the portrait of Dobbs’s life beyond the charge, his mother, Josephine Dobbs, stood, walking slowly with a cane to the well of the courtroom. “I am Michael’s mother,” she said, her voice shaky in the otherwise silent courtroom. Thank you.” Dobbs’s wife, Barbara Dobbs, addressed the judge as the couple’s two adult daughters bolstered her with their arms on her back and shoulder.
“Are you cool,” the Craigslist poster asked, “with me being 15?
” In imposing the sentence, Jordan said he would recommend that Dobbs be allowed to serve part of his time at the Montgomery County Pre-Release Center, a halfway house that allows leaving during the day for work and treatment programs.
At that time, he admitted that he engaged in anal sex with a boy under 14.
In exchange for his plea, he was promised a sentence of no more than 1 1⁄3 to four years in state prison.
He ultimately agreed to meet “Brandon” in a parking lot outside a rock-climbing business near his law office, with a plan to drive to the boy’s home, where he lived with his mother, who was said to be working a double shift, and they could be alone.