Appeal denied for man who lured teenager for sex

CONCORD – A federal judge has denied an appeal by a Florida man who was convicted two years ago of using a Web-based video game to lure a Windham teen across state lines to have sex.

Daniel Lenz, 28, formerly of Jacksonville, Fla., petitioned the court for a new trial, arguing new evidence has since come to light and that his lawyers, who he has since fired, were ineffective because they failed to interview the girl before the trial.

The U.S. Court of Appeals denied the motion this week.

Lenz was convicted Aug. 30, 2007 of transporting a minor over state lines with the intention of engaging in sex.

The 15-year-old’s parents reported her missing March 26, 2007. A day later, police found her, safe, in South Carolina.

Lenz met the girl, who suffers from bipolar disorder, playing “World of Warcraft,” an online, multiplayer role-playing game, according to FBI Special Agent Laura Hanlon, one of the case’s investigators.

Lenz claimed he arranged to have a friend, Jason Dowling, 23, of Florida, pick the girl up in New Hampshire and drive her to Florida after she threatened to kill herself, according to the most recent ruling.

The girl made comments to her mother and during a child advocacy interview that she and Lenz planned to have sex when she arrived in Florida. Police also obtained chat logs between the pair that were of a sexual nature from “World of Warcraft” creator Blizzard Entertainment, according to the ruling.

Lenz maintained he planned to wait to have sex until the girl turned 16, according to the ruling.

Later the girl clarified to her mother that the two planned to “eventually” have sex.

The girl’s parents, following letters from Lenz apologizing for his actions, allowed her to visit him in jail, according to the ruling.

The girl’s parents told police she was home-schooled, and her only friends are people she has met online, Hanlon said. A psychiatrist testified at Lenz’s trial that the girl had created another personality through “World of Warcraft,” according to the ruling.

Lenz initially appealed for a new trial after the girl clarified to her mother she was not going to Florida to have sex. A U.S. District Court denied that motion on Jan. 17, 2008. That court also denied a second motion after Lenz hired a new attorney.

The most recent decision from the appeals court upholds those rulings.