Letter to the Editor


Florida Statutes allow a judge discretion in deciding to let an admitted child pornographer out on bond. The purpose of a bail determination in criminal proceedings is to ensure that the accused appears for trial but also “to protect the community against unreasonable danger from the criminal defendant.” An accused does not have an unbridled right to roam free until he is convicted.  

Neal Buckles admitted to the arresting officer post-Miranda that he had obtained and emailed out photos of boys aged 5-10 in sex acts. Further, he admitted to the arresting officer, post-Miranda, to several “indecent liberties” with a 4-year-old. He has not yet been charged for the 4-year-old activities even though he admitted to it almost a week ago. 

When determining whether to release a defendant on bail or other conditions, and what that bail or conditions may be, the court is required by law to consider a number of things. First, the nature and circumstances of the offense charged. The charge involves electronic images of boys engaged in sex acts – one being forcibly restrained. This is a strict liability statute, meaning there is no intent requirement. You have these photos, you are guilty. 

Other than murder, what is a less dire nature than sexual abuse of pre-pubescent boys? Each time an email containing abuse is sent to another viewer, the boys are victimized again. Second, the judge considers the weight of the evidence against the defendant. The IP address transmitting the abuse images was linked to his home. The photos were transmitted via his email addresses. One email address even contained his full name. And he admitted to the arresting officer, post-Miranda, to having and emailing these photographs. 

The weight of the evidence couldn’t be greater. Finally, the nature and probability of danger which the defendant’s release poses to the community must be considered. This man actively solicited babysitting situations in which he could be alone with children. He advertised a babysitting service and worked as a sitter in a church. He lives in a neighborhood surrounded by children, yards from a school bus stop. Neighborhood mothers sent the investigator photos of their sons to confirm that they were not the boys in the photo. The threat is obvious.

Ann Bittinger

Mother, attorney and neighbor of the accused