During an appearance on CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Wednesday, Florida state attorney of Palm Beach County Dave Aronberg laid out some of the criminal penalties, including prison time — that GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz could face if the Justice Department investigation confirms that he did, in fact, have sexual contact with a minor.
Aronberg said the possibility of DOJ bringing charges against Gaetz is very real, and if found guilty he could face life in prison.
“Matt Gaetz said someone is trying to, quote, ‘recategorize his generosity to ex-girlfriends,'” said anchor Wolf Blitzer. “If this was a 17-year-old, which he denies, how real is the risk of sex trafficking charges?”
“It is very real,” said Aronberg. “Sex trafficking, especially when it comes to minors, is treated very seriously at the state and federal levels, punishable up to life in prison. It requires a minor to be recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, maintained, provided for commercial sex acts. That’s a broad definition. As far as commercial sex acts, it is any sex act in exchange for anything of value. And that would include hotel rooms, flights, expenses, things Matt Gaetz has provided to his dates.”
“He is adamant he never dated an underage girl,” continued Aronberg. “Federal prosecutors would have to show that it is indeed an underage girl and knew or should have known about it, can’t just put blinders on and walk away, you have to tie hotel rooms, plane tickets, expenses to sex acts. If that is not done, prosecutors have other tools in the arsenal. They can charge what’s known as statutory rape if found he had sex with a 17-year-old. That’s punishable up to 15 years in state prison. Also the crime of solicitation of sex with a minor, punishable up to five years in state prison.
“All these crimes that come with it, registration as a sex offender,” he added.
Watch the interview below via CNN.