Man faces perjury charges after sexting trial
Jan. 12, 2018 at 9:06 p.m.
Updated Jan. 13, 2018 at 6 a.m.
A Victoria man who was convicted of sexting a minor now faces accusations that he lied on the stand during his October trial.
Mark Edward Lemke, 38, is charged with nine counts of aggravated perjury, a third-degree felony, which carries a possible sentence of two to 10 years in prison and as much as a $10,000 fine.
"The false statements Lemke told were made to try to convince the jury that he knew he was speaking with an adult the entire time," said Jacquelyn Johnson, the assistant district attorney who is prosecuting Lemke's case. According to court records, Lemke's perjury trial is scheduled for May 2.
Lemke's attorney, Tali Villafranca, did not respond to requests for comment.
In early October, jurors sentenced Lemke to 10 years probation for two counts of online solicitation of a minor, which are second-degree felonies, and one count of online solicitation of a minor for sexual conduct, a second-degree felony.
Johnson, who also prosecuted Lemke's solicitation case, said authorities arrested the man after a 2016 undercover Attorney General's investigation in which an investigator pretended to be an underage girl.
Johnson said Lemke asked the undercover officer for nude pictures, gave advice on how to obtain sexual gratification and arranged to meet for sex.
According to the Attorney Generals' office, that investigation netted nine men, including Lemke and three others from Victoria.
"It's a lot like the former show 'To Catch a Predator,'" Johnson said.
Lemke's six-page indictment for aggravated perjury contends he lied nine times during trial.
Lemke claimed a woman romantically signaled him with red fingernail polish, enjoyed sexually role-playing as a minor, sometimes used a false name and communicated using a mobile app called "Whisper."
"She was into that type of role-play ... where she would act like a little girl, and I would be ... I hesitate to use the word 'predator,' but she was into that," testified Lemke, according to his indictment.
During his trial, prosecutors were required to prove Lemke thought he was communicating with a minor when he sent sexually explicit messages to the undercover officer, making the statements important in convincing a jury of his innocence, Johnson said.
And because those details could have affected the outcome of the trial, prosecutors were able to obtain aggravated perjury charges rather than simply perjury, Johnson said.
"In my experience, when defendants lie, they do so in an attempt to get acquitted," she said.
But after the trial, investigators determined that statement and others in Lemke's testimony were lies after interviewing the woman, said District Attorney Stephen Tyler.
"We are limited in our ability to attack the credibility of witnesses or defendants pretrial," he said.