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Man charged with sexting 15-year-old gets probation

By: Bridget Jones Journal staff writer
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A Placer County judge ordered a 36-year-old man to stay away from children after he pleaded guilty to sexting a teen. Michael Anthony Nielsen, 36, of Olivehurst, who had pleaded guilty to the felony of harmful matter exhibited to a minor, was given four years probation Wednesday by Judge Robert McElhany in Auburn’s Placer County Jail courtroom. Placer County Sheriff’s detectives arrested Nielsen in July after he allegedly tried to set up a meeting with a 15-year-old Auburn girl for sex in a Marysville area hotel. Nielsen arrived in the Wal-Mart parking lot next to the hotel at the arranged time and approached a female deputy he believed was the teenage girl. He was then taken into custody. Nielsen was charged with sending sexual text messages and an inappropriate photograph to the girl. It is still unknown how Nielsen got the teen’s phone number. Nielsen must serve the remainder of a total of 270 days in the Placer County Jail beginning June 22. He had previously served 57 days of that sentence. Several special conditions exist in Nielsen’s probation including he must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, he has to stay 100 yards away from an area where children congregate, he is prohibited from living within a quarter mile of any elementary school, he is subject to search and seizure at any time by law officials and he can’t possess materials related to children’s interests. John Spurling, Nielsen’s public defender, said he was concerned about the wording of some of the conditions. “I would submit that the word congregate … is unconstitutionally vague,” Spurling said in the courtroom. Spurling said it could be difficult for someone to follow the conditions. “I think I noted my objection to (the conditions),” Spurling said outside of the courtroom. “I’m not sure how people are expected to comply with probation terms when they are rather on the vague side.” Spurling said one example is the confusing nature of the condition about Nielsen not owning materials related to children’s interests. “So if you possess comic books, are you in violation of probation?” Nielsen asked. McElhany decided to change one of the conditions that stated Nielsen couldn’t live with anyone below the age of 18. The condition now states that Nielsen can’t live with anyone under the age of 18, unless the situation has been approved by the probation department, according to Todd Kuhnen, the prosecuting district attorney on the case. Nielsen said some of the special conditions of the probation do not take his individual situation into account. “Some of the probation, they don’t take into consideration how things are economically and hardships (I might have),” Nielsen said after his sentencing. “They overlook some of the simple things. They see it in one view.” McElhany said Nielsen had to comply with all conditions or he could be punished further. “If you disobey any of those conditions, state prison could be a possibility,” McElhany said. Kuhnen said he hopes this is the last crime Nielsen will commit. “It’s my sincere hope Mr. Nielsen will learn from this offense and never violate the law again,” he said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com